Barcelona completed what is surely the most surprising deal of the January transfer window so far earlier this week with the loan signing of Kevin-Prince Boateng from Sassuolo.
The 31-year-old falls into the ‘journeyman’ category after playing for 10 different clubs – excluding Barça – since 2007.
His last spell at one of Europe’s powerhouses was in 2016 with AC Milan, but his career appeared to be winding down before the unexpected call from Ernesto Valverde.
“I would like to thank everyone for the opportunity to come to this great club,” a stunned Boateng was quoted as saying by his new club’s official website.
“I am really happy and they have been two incredible days so far. It’s an honor to be here and I want to enjoy it and win everything.”
It was a case of straight into the deep end for the Ghanaian international, who started up front for Barça against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday night.
Boateng led the line at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, flanked by Malcom and Carles Alena, and played 63 minutes before being subbed off for Luis Suarez.
Barça, who were without the rested Lionel Messi, were already 1-0 down by this point and went on to lose the match 2-0.
But how did Boateng fare on his first performance for the Catalan giants?Not too bad, actually. He managed to make a largely positive impression with one aspect of his game, in particular, catching the eye of football fans.
Boateng made the most of his 6ft 1in powerful physique by holding the ball up time and time again.Valverde clearly wanted him to play a target man role in the center-forward position, bringing his teammates into play, and he did an impressive job.
Many football fans who watched the action unfold live made same observation on Twitter…https://twitter.com/__Abyyy__/status/1088175953593946112
KPB's started well for Barcelona. His hold-up play is putting Giroud's to shame
— Amatriain (@_C_hacha) January 23, 2019
— FCB News (@fcbnewsofficial) January 23, 2019
Hasn't really had too many looks at goal by KPB been quite good so far in linking with teammates and holding up the ball.
— Robbie Dunne (@robbiejdunne) January 23, 2019
Really liking KPB's game so far. When he actually has folks to link up with he's going to be very effective.
— total Barça (@totalBarca) January 23, 2019
A video of Boateng’s individual highlights has emerged and it backs up their point.
Watch it here…
Not such a bad signing after all? https://t.co/swrVURhZfq
— Best of Football (@BestofFootball8) January 23, 2019
Each time the ball was played up to the experienced forward, he’d make it stick.
This will no doubt encourage Valverde, who will presumably be even more excited over the idea of Boateng working in tandem with Messi.Even Madrid-based newspaper Marca acknowledged Boateng’s contribution, adding: “Despite being in Barcelona less than 48 hours, Boateng early on was displaying his skills as a target forward by holding up play and linking nicely with teammates.”
Perhaps bringing him to the Camp Nou wasn’t such a bad idea after all.