Updated: 2 days ago
Both the clubs have played out some very memorable encounters over the years
Two prominent clubs with illustrious histories, sharing 11 UEFA Champions League titles between them. FC Barcelona & Bayern Munich have had some of football’s finest talent represent them over the years.
Only a handful of them have had the fortune to represent both clubs. Let’s take a look at some of the best players to play for the sporting giants.
5. Arturo Vidal (2015–2018: Bayern Munich, 2018–2020: Barcelona)
Vidal started his footballing journey at Chilean club Colo-Colo. In 2007, he was tracked by Bayer Leverkusen who signed him for a record €11 million. Vidal made over 100 appearances for Bayer, helping them finish second in the league in his last season with the club. That very season, he accumulated 11 assists – joint second in the league. He left for Juventus in 2011. He played for the Old Lady from 2011 to 2015, winning the Serie A four times in a row (2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015).
Bayern added steel and versatility to their midfield as Vidal made his way to Allianz Arena in a four-year deal worth €40million. He spent three seasons with Bayern, scoring 22 goals in 124 appearances. Winning the league every season, he was twice named in the league’s Team of the Season.
Vidal moved to Spain in search of a new challenge, having won almost everything with Bayern Munich. In 2018, Barcelona signed him for around €20 million. At 31, he wasn’t the youngest midfielder, but his tireless work rate, stamina, and leadership had a positive impact on the pitch. He was there for two seasons, during which time he won a league title and a Spanish Super Cup. Vidal scored 11 goals and provided 10 assists in 95 games. He then returned to Italy, but this time, he signed for Inter Milan.
This year in July, Vidal signed an 18-month deal with Flamengo on a free transfer. Arturo Vidal has won nine league titles across spells in Italy, Germany, and Spain.
4. Philippe Coutinho (2018–2022: Barcelona, 2019–2020: Bayern Munich (loan))
The Brazilian magician started playing in Vasco da Gama’s youth system. In 2008, at the age of 16, he was signed by Serie A giants Inter Milan for a deal worth €4 million which came into effect in 2010. After two decent loans, he was signed by Liverpool for £8.5 million transfer fee.
Coutinho had established himself as one of the Premier League’s leading players with Liverpool. Spending five seasons there, he scored 41 goals in 152 appearances. Coutinho mostly played in central midfield and earned praise for his vision and accurate passing, dribbling, and creative play.
Coutinho moved to Barca for a staggering bid £142 million in 2017–18. He is the most expensive signing in Barcelona’s 120-year history.
Coutinho’s dream move to Catalonia was largely nightmarish, as he struggled to find his role at the Camp Nou. In his one-and-a-half season at Barca, he made 76 appearances, mustering 21 goals and 11 assists.
In Aug 2019, he joined Bayern Munich on a season-long loan, with whom he won the Bundesliga and the German Cup. That season in UCL, Philippe Coutinho rubbed salt with a late brace against Barcelona in Bayern Munich’s 8-2 Champions League quarter-final victory. Even after his improved performances, Bayern refused to make the deal permanent. He returned to Barcelona the following season and subsequently signed for Aston Villa, currently managed by Steven Gerrard.
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3. Mark Hughes (1986–1988: Barcelona, 1987–1988: Bayern Munich (loan))
The Welshman was one of the best during his playing days, operating as a forward or attacking midfielder. Mark Hughes played for Manchester United from 1980 to 1986. He signed for Barcelona in 1986 for £2 million to join fellow Englishman Gary Lineker. However, Hughes struggled to make any impact, scoring just four times in 28 appearances.
Failing to find his spot in Catalonia, Hughes was loaned out to Bayern for the 1987/88 campaign. Even after having limited chances, Hughes managed to score six goals in 18 appearances for Bayern.
The following year, Hughes returned to Manchester United for a club-record fee of £1.8 million in 1988. Hughes went on to have an excellent career as a player as well as a manager.
2. Thiago Alcántara (2008–2013: Barcelona, 2013–2020: Bayern Munich)
Thiago, at just 14, arrived in Barcelona’s La Masia academy from Brazilian club Flamengo in 2005. At 18, Thiago made his debut for the first team, when he came on as a substitute. In six seasons at Camp Nou, he only managed 104 appearances. With the presence of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Cesc Fabregas, he could only find limited game time.
Thiago Alcantara won four LaLiga titles and a Champions League with Barcelona before moving to Bayern Munich in 2013 for £25million. Pep Guardiola was Bayern’s manager at that time and persuaded him to sign for them. Thiago went on to make 232 appearances for the club. He was part of brilliant domestic dominance for Bayern, winning seven consecutive Bundesliga titles and four German Cups during his time with the club.
Establishing himself as one of the best midfielders of his generation with vision and pinpoint accuracy, Thiago left Bayern for Liverpool for just £20m.
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1. Robert Lewandowski (2014–2022: Bayern Munich, 2022–Present: Barcelona)
It was at Borussia Dortmund where Robert Lewandowski took giant strides towards becoming one of the best strikers of his generation. Playing in Dortmund for four seasons, Lewandowski won two league titles and one German Super Cup, racking up 74 goals in 131 apps.
Lewandowski signed for Dortmund‘s rivals Bayern Munich at the beginning of the 2014–15 season. Lewandowski scored 344 goals in 374 appearances for the German giants. While 238 of those came in the Bundesliga, 69 were scored in the Champions League.
Moreover, he has won the Bundesliga Top Scorer Award seven times, most prominently in 2020–21. He scored 41 goals in a single campaign, breaking Gerd Müller’s previous Bundesliga record of 40 goals, set in 1971–72. Lewandowski spent eight seasons with Bayern Munich and won eight league titles, three DFP Pokal trophies, five DFL-Supercups, one Champions League, one Super Cup, and one Club World Cup.
Finally at the age of 34, Lewandowski has signed for Barcelona on a four-year contract for a fee worth €45 million.
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