Pep Guardiola is one of the best managers that football has ever seen. Although he has often been criticised for managing only the top European sides, he has brought a lot of success to the clubs he has coached in previous seasons.
His tenure at Barcelona was a revelation in club football. He led them to three La Liga titles, as well as two UEFA Champions League trophies along the way. His spell in Germany with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich was not as successful in comparison, but that is based on the high expectations he sets for himself – losing in the Champions League semi-finals in three successive seasons is always hard to take.
Another move, this time to England, saw critics relish the opportunity to critique and slam Guardiola’s perceived arrogance for trying to change too much too quickly – Manchester City were trophyless during his maiden campaign in the top-flight.
This past season though, they secured a Premier League and cup double, while breaking numerous records while doing so.
Throughout his managerial career, Pep has made some great acquisitions including the likes of Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sané to name but a few. Although most have proven to be a huge success, some of them have failed miserably.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the five worst signings made by Pep Guardiola during his managerial career to date.
Nolito was signed by Pep Guardiola during the summer of 2016, when he first took charge of the reigns at the Ethiad Stadium. Manchester City parted with £13.8million for the Celta Vigo forward, who previously had an excellent 2015/16 campaign in La Liga.
However, he struggled to adapt quickly to the demands of high-intensity English football and returned to Spain the following year, for a fee of around €9million. He initially started well in Manchester but as the season progressed, he faded away. Bernardo Silva’s expensive arrival from Monaco the following summer was essentially the writing on the wall as far as his City tenure went.
The 31-year-old only made nine starts for City in the top-flight, scoring four goals and creating two assists during that spell. With 774 Premier League minutes under his belt, he was regularly used as a substitute and found himself frustrated by the lack of regular minutes.
Back when Guardiola took charge two seasons ago, he replaced previous first-choice goalkeeper Joe Hart with Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo – in a move that would either pay off and earn plaudits, or draw criticism and questions over the Spaniard’s decision-making.
Bravo made 22 Premier League appearances that season, conceding 28 goals. Averaging 1.04 saves per goal conceded, it did not make for good viewing and he was regularly criticised for his inability to command the box – whilst making needless mistakes when under pressure, something he was specifically brought into the side to avoid.
It comes with the territory, but Bravo has made quite a few glaring errors during his spell in Eastlands – which ultimately cost City in their attempts to mount a genuine title challenge that year.
His inconsistent form meant that Guardiola needed to find an adequate replacement and Bravo’s disappointing shot-stopping abilities saw his manager enter the market for a new number one goalkeeper – Benfica’s Ederson – ahead of their title-winning campaign this past season.
The deal to sign Keirrison will ultimately go down as one of the worst signings in the history of the Catalan club. Barcelona spent a transfer fee of around £12million for the highly-rated Brazil forward back in 2009.
It was always going to be interesting to track his progress, not least after netting 21 league goals for Coritiba in Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A the season beforehand.
Immediately loaned out to Portuguese giants Benfica for the 2009/10 campaign, they wanted to see how he would react to playing European football at a good level – without having the pressure and expectations that come with playing for a side of Barcelona’s stature and prestige.
Unsuccessful loan spells there, as well as elsewhere such as Serie A side Fiorentina, Santos and Cruzeiro meant that his development stalled dramatically as he struggled for regular minutes and a consistent run of form which would have propelled him to earn a first-team place in Spain.
He returned to Brazil in 2014, when his Barcelona contract was terminated by mutual consent. Coritiba welcomed him back with open arms on a permanent deal, all without him managing to make one single appearance for the Catalan giants.
Alexander Hleb’s stunning 2007/08 campaign at Arsenal turned Pep Guardiola’s head towards the midfielder. Exceptional for the Gunners, not least during his final season in north London, he finished as the club’s second-highest assist provider behind Cesc Fabregas – while his versatility was believed to be one of the attributes which attracted Pep most.
Hleb had occupied many attacking positions for Arsenal and excelled wherever he played, without much recognition either.
Hleb joined Barcelona during the summer of 2008 and despite making 36 appearances – winning the treble in his first season at the Camp Nou, his contributions to the success was very limited.
A series of loan spells – VfB Stuttgart, Birmingham City and VfL Wolfsburg – followed, before his contract was terminated in 2012 by mutual consent, after which he moved to the Russian Premier League.
Pep Guardiola bought Dmytro Chygrynskiy from Shakhtar Donetsk for a huge €25million during the summer of 2009. Following his arrival, he became the first Ukrainian to represent Barcelona after winning five championships in his native Ukraine’s top-flight.
However, his stint in Spain only lasted a season. He made 12 La Liga appearances, playing 851 minutes – whilst two Copa del Rey appearances was all he was afforded too.
Unsurprisingly given his struggles, he was shipped back to Shakhtar the following campaign for a reported €15million. Pep’s decision to buy Chygrynskiy despite having Rafael Marquez, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol and Gabriel Milito as part of his central defence was a perplexing decision – not least for someone who was relatively inexperienced too.