Meet Danish forward Martin Braithwaite, the man with a €300m buy-out clause that Barcelona have just signed as emergency cover.
Martin Braithwaite’s arrival couldn’t be more welcome for a desperate Barcelona following Ousmane Dembele’s injury.
While working on his recovery from a hamstring issue, the Frenchman suffered a fresh injury blow in a recent training session. Before long, Barcelona confirmed the player suffered a tear in his right hamstring and could be out for the rest of this season. It left them in a real tight spot.
Especially considering Luis Suarez’s injury problems and Carles Perez’s loan move to AS Roma. But La Liga rules permitted Barcelona to make a transfer on two conditions:
- Dembele must be out for over five months.
- The new player is already in Spain or a free agent.
Angel Rodriguez (Getafe), Willian Jose (Real Sociedad), Lucas Perez (Alaves) and Loren Moron (Real Betis) were all in contention.
But potential moves for these four players failed to materialise, with Barcelona instead signing Braithwaite. They activated his buy-out clause of €18m at Leganes this week and agreed on a four-and-a-half-year contract.
Perhaps the most shocking part of the deal was Barcelona slapping a €300m release clause on his contract.
Previous spells in Europe
Martin Braithwaite spent time in two different youth academies in Denmark at Midtjylland and Esbjerg fB. The latter, which is his hometown club, gave him his big break in senior football in 2009.
While a trial at Newcastle United didn’t work out, Braithwaite enjoyed a decent stint playing for Esbjerg. He managed 19 goals and 10 assists in 97 appearances on route to a Danish 1st Division title and a Danish Cup.
These performances caught the interest of clubs from England and France before he joined Toulouse in 2013 for €2m. This move unleashed the best of Braithwaite, with 40 goals scored in 149 games.
Despite starring in Ligue 1, however, the Dane opted to take his talents to England in Middlesbrough. The task was to lead the relegated team back into the Premier League at the first time of asking in the Championship.
But Braithwaite never lived up to his €11.30m price tag in a disappointing spell in England. He tried to re-live his glory days in France by sealing a loan move to Bordeaux in January 2018. A measly return of four goals in 14 games, however, saw him end up back at Middlesbrough.
Another loan spell with Leganes last season, though, ended on a more successful note. Braithwaite’s four goals and seven assists in 19 outings played a big role in helping them avoid relegation in La Liga.
The Madrid-based club promptly signed him permanently last summer for €5m on a four-year contract.
What made Barcelona sign Braithwaite?
Aside from the previously mentioned injury problems, Martin Braithwaite’s versatility is an attractive option for Barcelona. He can operate in three different forward positions from the right, centre and left.
The 39-time Denmark international is definitely no big-name player and wasn’t Quique Setien’s first choice either. Simply put, he was the best choice in a bad situation.
But while the 28-year-old won’t have many minutes on the pitch, he’s strong work-rate will please Barcelona.
Braithwaite’s is known for not being a glory-seeker, which could be a useful aid for Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann. Out on the pitch, Setien could use him to create space for the duo.
Moreover, Braithwaite is an experienced footballer with years of top-flight experience under his belt. The forward also competed in the 2018 World Cup, where he started two of Denmark’s four games. No goals came in Russia, but the Danes weren’t exactly pushing for them either.
Overall, Barcelona will likely make a loss on Braithwaite in the future. He’s no saviour, but a necessary addition nevertheless.
The former Middlesbrough man could make his Blaugrana debut against SD Eibar on Saturday at Camp Nou.