There have been some iconic figures over the years, that have donned the colors of both the English and the Spanish giants.
The upcoming UEFA Champions League quarter-final fixture between these two sides will be a clash of two traditionally valiant teams who have always had world class players playing for them in the Premier League or the La Liga. Whether its players like Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, or David Beckham for the Red Devils or Andres Iniesta, Xavi or Carles Puyol for the Blaugrana, there has been no shortage of legendary players representing either club.
However, there are a few handful but iconic individuals that have had the privilege to represent both these heavyweights at some point in their careers. This gives us a perfect opportunity to go through the archives and put our lens on those individuals who have played for both Manchester United and FC Barcelona. Here are the top-five:
5. Jordi Cruyff
Not many current generation fans of Manchester United are aware of the fact that a Cruyff played for their club in the Premier League. Jordi Cruyff, son of the legendary Dutch football player, Johan Cruyff, had started his professional career with Barcelona B in second tier of Spanish Football. Thanks to some impressive performances as a central attacking midfielder cum striker, he was soon promoted to the senior squad where he made 41 appearances over two years from 1994-1996, scoring 11 goals despite being a fringe player.
Jordi Cyuff has played for both FC Barcelona and Manchester United
He secured a move to Manchester United in August 1996 for a fee of £1.4 million. He played under Sir Alex Ferguson for four years, in which he accumulated 57 appearances and scored eight goals. He did win three titles with MUFC, the Premier League in 1996-97 and the F.A. Charity Shield in 1996 and 1997. His career at the English club was marked by injuries and was later loaned to Celta Vigo in 1999, and his contract ran out in 2000 after which he secured a move to Alaves on a free transfer.
4. Henrik Larsson
Regarded as one of the best Swedish footballers of all time, Henrik Larsson reached the peak of his career at Scottish club, Celtic FC, where he was nicknamed as the King of Kings by the fans due to his 242 goals in 315 matches. The Swedish striker joined FC Barcelona in 2004 on a free transfer where he proceeded to win two league titles (2004-05 and 2005-06) and one Supercopa de Espana (2005) and most importantly the UEFA Champions League (2005-06) in which he assisted both goals in a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the final.
Henrik Larsson featured for both clubs at the later stages of his career
His spell at Manchester United came in 2007 where he was signed on a short-term loan from Helsingborg. He featured for United in 13 games and scored 3 goals in all competitions. Larsson had announced he would return to Helsingborg despite United’s willingness to extend his contract duration. He later retired from professional football in 2009.
3. Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes is still pegged as one of the best Welsh players to ever grace a football field. He made his professional debut for Manchester United in 1980 after three years playing in the reserves. He spent six years at United, playing mainly as a squad player, accumulating 89 appearances and scoring 37 goals in the process.
Mark Hughes spent one season at FC Barcelona between his two long spells at Manchester United
He moved to FC Barcelona in the summer of 1986 for a sum of £2 million and formed a striking partnership with Gary Lineker at the Nou Camp. However, he failed to deliver for FCB, featuring in 28 games and scoring only 4 goals. After having been loaned out to Bayern Munich in the next season, Mark Hughes made a return to Manchester United in May 1988 for a then club record fee of £1.8 million. He spent seven more years there, scoring 83 times in 256 appearances, winning 11 trophies in the process.
2. Gerard Pique
Gerard Pique is now in his 11th year with FC Barcelona and will go down as a club legend in all respects. The center-back has made 486 appearances for FC Barcelona and has scored 46 goals. In his tenure playing for the Catalan giants, the Spaniard has won a total of 27 trophies, the highlight of the collection being three Champions League winning medals. However, Pique had featured for Manchester United in the budding years of his career before joining Barcelona.
Gerard Pique spent early part of his career at Manchester United before attaining legendary status at FC Barcelona
The 32-year-old began his career in Barcelona’s youth system playing as a defensive midfielder, but later on joined Manchester United where he spent four years from 2004 to 2008, making odd appearances here and there, but it was at United where his foundations as a top-class defender were laid down. Pique also spent a season out on loan to Real Zaragoza in 2006-07 season. He won three titles with United in a single season of 2007-08 that included the F.A. Community Shield, Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The Swedish striker is one of those players who has not only represented multiple clubs in different leagues but has also excelled at each side he has taken the field for. FC Barcelona and Manchester United are among the many top clubs Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played for. Zlatan moved to FC Barcelona in the summer of 2009 from Inter Milan for a fee in the region of €69.5 million. The forward made 29 appearances in total, scoring 16 goals. He was later loaned out to A.C. Milan after altercations had surfaced with then manager, Pep Guardiola. He won a total of five trophies in two seasons with Barca.
Zlatan has shone for both FC Barcelona and Manchester United
Zlatan joined Manchester United on July 1, 2016 as a free agent after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain had expired. The 37-year-old signed a one-year contract at United where he made a total of 33 appearances and scored 17 goals, thus proving his mettle in arguably the toughest league competition in Europe. He also won his first major European trophy when Manchester United won the UEFA Europa League, defeating AFC Ajax in the final. In addition to that, the Swede also helped MUFC win the F.A. Community Shield and the EFL Cup.