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Barca signed the Danish striker after being granted permission by La Liga to sign him outside of the transfer window to cover their injury crisis after injuries to Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_cat) February 20, 2020
But Braithwaite playing at Camp Nou isn’t something Middlesbrough fans saw coming during his two years in the Championship.
Weirdly, though, the 28-year-old becomes the third player in six years (after Adama Traore and Victor Valdes) to have represented both Barca and Boro since 2014.
In fact, it’s a grand lineage that goes way back, with Gaizka Mendieta, Michael Reiziger and Fabio Rochemback also playing for both clubs in the more distant past.
Still, it’s a big shock, and we pay homage to other transfers that have surprised us over the years with this top 10.
1. Julien Faubert to Real Madrid
Largely deployed as cover at full-back, Julien Faubert was a fringe player at West Ham yet still managed to wangle himself a loan switch to Real Madrid in 2009, which confused everybody — including the great Alfredo Di Stefano, who was left to do the grand unveiling.
The Frenchman went on to make just two appearances (totalling 54 minutes) in six months at Real. He managed to miss a training session because he mistakenly thought he had the day off, while he also fell asleep on the bench during a game against Villarreal.
2. Ronnie O’Brien to Juventus
It’s not a name that lingers long in the memory, but Ronnie O’Brien can still tell everybody he played for Juventus, however fleetingly.
The Ireland youth international was released by Middlesbrough in 1998 and soon found himself training with hometown club Bray Wanderers — right up until the moment Juve offered him a five-year contract for reasons still unknown. He made one appearance for the Bianconeri before moving to MLS with Dallas Burn.
3. Dale Jennings to Bayern Munich
Tranmere Rovers to Bayern Munich is hardly a well-worn career path but that’s exactly the big move Jennings made in 2011. Winger Dale Jennings spent two years plugging away in Bayern’s reserve side but failed to break into the first team before returning to England with Barnsley.
4. Bebe to Man United
Bebe was signed by Manchester United for almost £8m, having played just six times for Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes, all of which were preseason friendlies. As the story goes, then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson had never seen the winger play before taking the plunge. Bebe made two league appearances in four years at United before being sold on at a massive loss.
5. Odion Ighalo to Man United
Most Premier League fans assumed they’d seen the back of Odion Ighalo after the goals dried up at Watford and he disappeared to the Chinese Super League to see out his playing days. However, just when the memory of the Nigerian striker had begun to fade, Manchester United swooped to bring him back to England last month as emergency cover for their injured forward line.
6. Thomas Gravesen to Real Madrid
Having gained a reputation as a midfield enforcer/liability over five years at Everton, it was only natural that Thomas Gravesen made the logical progression to join the rest of the Galacticos at Real Madrid in 2005. He lasted one year at the Bernabeu before leaving for Celtic.
7. Kevin-Prince Boateng to Barcelona
A decent playmaker in his pomp, Kevin-Prince Boateng‘s influence soon began to dwindle as he entered his 30s. Still, that didn’t stop Barcelona from taking a punt on the Ghanaian last January. Signed as a backup option on loan from Sassuolo, he made three goalless appearances before moving on to Fiorentina at the end of the season.
8. Tyrone Mears to Marseille
Tyrone Mears forced through a move to Marseille in 2008 after somehow catching the French club’s eye with his unremarkable defending for Derby County. The centre-back also conducted his talks with l’OM behind Derby’s back, even sneaking through windows to avoid contact with manager Paul Jewell, before finally leaving under a rather significant cloud.
9. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to PSG
At the end of the 2017-18 season, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting went from consistently underperforming and getting relegated with Stoke City to playing alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain in the space of a few bemusing weeks — and we still can’t fathom why. And neither can they.
10. Sol Campbell to Notts County
No stranger to controversial transfers, having moved from Tottenham to bitter local rivals Arsenal in 2001, former England defender Campbell came out of semi-retirement to sign for League One side Notts County in 2010 as a marquee attraction in what was purported to be a lavish takeover.
Campbell signed a five-year deal with County, which was all going swimmingly until he walked out on the club just a few days after making his one and only appearance for them.