By Michael Hincks
Kevin-Prince Boateng to Barcelona: How former Spurs and Portsmouth player sealed 'dream' move
Boateng joins Barcelona on loan from Sassuolo with option to buy in the summer
Last Updated: 23/01/19 6:08am
Kevin-Prince Boateng's loan move to Barcelona from Sassuolo is arguably the most surprising deal of the January transfer window. Here's how the former Tottenham and Portsmouth player ended up at the Nou Camp.
Few will have foreseen that '#EnjoyPrince' would be trending on Monday, but it was that hashtag which revealed Barcelona's shock move for Kevin-Prince Boateng.
The 31-year-old has arrived in Spain on loan from Sassuolo for the remainder of the season, while Barca have the option to make it permanent for £7.1m in the summer.
Boateng's 10th move in 12 years
Since leaving Hertha Berlin in 2007: Tottenham, Borussia Dortmund (loan), Portsmouth, AC Milan, Schalke, back to Milan, Las Palmas, Eintracht Frankfurt, Sassuolo, Barcelona (loan)
In becoming the first Ghanaian to play for Barca, the transfer marks another extraordinary chapter in the player's career, which started at Hertha Berlin before spells at Spurs and Portsmouth.
Here, we chart Boateng's nine years since leaving England, and consider what role he will play at Barcelona.
The continental journeyman
Portsmouth in fact sold Boateng to Genoa in 2010, but he was immediately loaned to Milan, who eventually made the deal permanent the following summer.
During his time at Milan, Boateng scored 17 times in 100 appearances - including twice in two games against Barcelona - while he notably led his team-mates off in a 2013 mid-season friendly against Pro Patria after being subjected to racist chants, resulting in the match being abandoned.
The Ghana international moved to Schalke that summer, and though he started brightly with five goals in his opening eight Bundesliga games, a tumultuous period followed.
Along with Sulley Muntari, Boateng was suspended indefinitely and sent home from the 2014 World Cup for disciplinary reasons, while he was then suspended indefinitely less than 12 months later by Schalke and told to find a new club with manager Roberto Di Matteo citing a "lack of mutual trust".
Boateng eventually re-signed for Milan in January 2016, but a bit-part role saw him leave for Spanish side Las Palmas, where the started 25 La Liga games in the 2016-17 campaign, scoring 10 times.
A desire to be closer to his family saw Boateng return to the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt for the 2017-18 campaign, but after helping the club beat Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal final, he was on the move once more, securing a switch to Sassuolo last summer.
At the time, Frankfurt's sporting director Fredi Bobic said: "He expressed that wish [to leave] now because he would like to be playing where he sees himself settling to live."
But just six months, 15 games and five goals into his time at Sassuolo, Barcelona came knocking, and Boateng sealed a surprise move to the Catalan club on Monday, January 21.
"It's a very sad day. Because I'm saying goodbye to an amazing group and club like Sassuolo that gave me a lot," Boateng told Sky in Italy on Monday night, before boarding a plane to Barcelona.
"Going to Barcelona is a huge opportunity and an incredible feeling. I was very stressed today but I wanted to say goodbye to everyone, I respect Sassuolo."
He faced backlash from Barcelona fans on social media as an old video resurfaced where he said he would have liked to play with Real Madrid rather than the Catalans, if he had the choice.
"My pro-Real Madrid video from the past? It's old stuff, I'm very focused on Barca. I'll be hoping to score in the Clasico at the Bernabeu," he said.
On Tuesday, a modest crowd attended Boateng's presentation at the Nou Camp, which included the now seemingly traditional keepy-uppies photo-op on Barca's hallowed turf.
According to Spanish paper Sport, Ernesto Valverde's first choice was Los Angeles FC forward Carlos Vela, but Boateng was deemed a more affordable short-term solution.
Sport claims Valverde called Boateng's former coach at Las Palmas, Quique Setien, to discuss the player's quality and suitability, and following a positive response from the now Real Betis head coach, Valverde gave the move the green light.
Boateng ultimately arrives at Barcelona as the club's back-up No 9 option to Luis Suarez following Munir El Haddadi's departure to Sevilla earlier this month.
Munir started twice and came off the bench seven times this season before leaving Barca, and Boateng can expect the play with similar frequency.
However, with Ousmane Dembele ruled out for two weeks with an ankle injury, Boateng's versatility means he will compete with Malcom for a starting place on the right wing in Wednesday's cup match at Sevilla and Sunday's league encounter at Girona.
'A dream come true'
Boateng will undoubtedly be aware of his role within the squad, but the chance to play and win titles for Barcelona at the age of 31 was an opportunity he could not turn down.
For every football player and especially for me, it's a big dream come true. I will try to give everything for this club.
He said: "I am very happy. It's a big honour for me to be here and have the possibility to play for this great club. For every kid who starts to play football it's a big dream to play for a club like Barcelona, for every football player and especially for me, it's a big dream come true.
"I will try to give everything for this club. Everybody knows the way I play, they know my strengths, but I just want to put everything on and try to help the club."