Kevin-Prince Boateng could hardly believe his luck after Barcelona signed him on loan from Sassuolo in the January transfer window - and, the truth is, neither could the rest of us.
The midfielder, who turned 32 in March, wasn’t pulling up any trees in Serie A but that didn’t deter Ernesto Valverde from adding him to his ranks for the second half of the 2018-19 campaign.
Boateng’s last spell with one of European football’s so-called giants was with AC Milan in 2016, when he scored one goal in 14 appearances, and nobody expected another top club to take a gamble on him - let alone Barça.
“I would like to thank everyone for the opportunity to come to this great club,” a humbled Boateng was quoted as saying by his new club’s official website.
“I am really happy. It’s an honour to be here and I want to enjoy it and win everything.”
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Boateng was immediately thrown into the deep end by Valverde, handed a debut against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey, playing as the team’s centre-forward alongside Malcom and Carles Alena.
And during the 63 minutes he played, the former Ghana international managed to make a positive impression, with his excellent hold-up play in particular catching the eye.
While it was obviously extremely early days, it initially appeared that Valverde’s gamble of signing Boateng as a plan B had the potential to prove a surprising masterstroke.
But, alas, two months later and many of you must be wondering why the former Tottenham and Portsmouth playmaker has only made one appearance for the Catalan giants since.
Boateng started a couple of weeks later against Real Valladolid at the Camp Nou - pretty much a home banker for Barcelona - but failed to impress during the hour he was on the pitch and was subsequently hooked for Luis Suarez.
That was on February 16 and we haven’t seen him in a Barcelona shirt since.
Now, almost two months later, it’s emerged that coaches at the Camp Nou have been left disappointed by his attitude towards training.
Journalist Javi Miguel told Club de la Mitjanit on Catalunya Radio this week that Boateng doesn’t like to train very much - which may, or may not, come as a surprise.
Barça’s coaches were recently further disappointed by his attitude when he failed to attend two optional training sessions after the international break.
Although the sessions were optional, it was basically a test of whether or not Boateng could be bothered to turn up and potentially improve his chances of getting a game.
He didn’t - and now it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he’s already played his final match for the club.
One thing’s for sure: Barça will not be signing him on a permanent contract this summer.
Valverde’s gamble, it seems, has backfired.News Now - Sport News