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The story of Douglas, Barcelona’s meme player

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He played eight games and won six trophies

International Champions Cup 2015 - FC Barcelona v Los Angeles Galaxy Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images

So, the Douglas era has ended. The Brazilian somehow spent six seasons at Barcelona, albeit three on loan. In that time, he played only eight official games, but he somehow can claim he won six trophies.

His 2014 signing from São Paulo never made any sense, and it probably makes less sense now. He was signed directly from the Brazilian league, which is quite a jump for any player, yet he was not really a star there. Even for a megastar like Neymar or even a superstar-not-quite-megastar like Arthur, the jump from the Brasileirao to La Liga is huge. Why would Douglas make it?

He was touted as a prospect, but even that did not make much sense. At 24, you are approaching your prime years as a player. You are no longer a promise, you should already be showing close to your finished quality. And that quality was nowhere near the level required for a team as big as Barcelona.

The explanations for this strange signing on social media were quite strange, but they existed because logical ones failed.

When Douglas played that first season under Luis Enrique, we saw a mess. He couldn’t defend, he couldn’t pass, he couldn’t attack. Even playing against lower league opposition in the cup, he seemed out of his depth.

To be fair to him, he wasn’t quite as bad as some wanted to joke. He was not Ali Dia, the infamous Senegalese amateur player who somehow bluffed his way into playing in the English top division. Douglas was a starting quality player for one of Brazil’s most famous teams. But he just was nowhere near Barça standard.

In two seasons, he played only three league matches and an additional five cup matches. But strangely enough, Barça won the treble in his first season there. In his second season, the Catalans secured a domestic double and a FIFA Club World Cup.

Sporting Gijón took him on loan the next season, and while they were relegated, Douglas was considered good enough to play 21 league matches for them. Benfica took him next, but he wasn’t as active for them. Sivasspor in the Turkish Süper Lig was the third team to take him on loan in as many years, ensuring Douglas would end his contract with Barcelona on three successive loan spells. He became a key player for Sivasspor last season. That’s probably his level.

Looking back to 2014, one key moment stands as a time where Barcelona took a path that looks like a large-scale disaster, and unfortunately, Douglas is at the center.

Barcelona could have signed Marco Asensio for cheap, and the agreement was almost signed. Barça and Mallorca had settled on a fee, the player himself was ready to go. But at the last minute, disagreements arose over the timing of payments and Barcelona canceled the deal. Instead, Asensio ended up leaving for Real Madrid. That money ended up being used for Douglas, while Madrid got a very good young forward.

None of that is Douglas’s fault of course, but that is unfortunately what he’ll be known for. But ask your average culé and they won’t be likely to disparage him.

They’ll have a somewhat ironic reverence for Douglas, considering him a lucky charm of sorts. He somehow won the lottery to play alongside Lionel Messi, Xavi, Neymar, Luis Suárez, Gerard Piqué, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Marc-André ter Stegen... the list goes on. And he somehow, kind of, won a treble.

Ask Barcelona fans, and they’ll be quick to point out that that is one more treble than Real Madrid have ever won, and just as many La Liga titles as Cristiano Ronaldo ever did, in fewer tries.

There have been pretenders like Kevin-Prince Boateng, but there will only be one Douglas. Douglas was the meme player for Barça.