Barcelona has seen some awesome players play for the team, and there were Muslim players in the mix. In this guide, we’ll take a stroll down memory lane and talk about some of the Muslim footballers who have graced the Camp Nou turf. In no time, let’s dive right In.
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1. Eric Abidal
Eric Abidal is one of the top Muslim footballers to ever play for Barcelona, and he was a key player in FC Barcelona’s journey.
He joined the team in 2007, signing a four-year deal for €9 million. Wearing the number 22 jersey, he showed how best he can be In the Back four, and became a defensive force.
He made his La Liga debut in August 2007. Abidal played a crucial role in Barcelona’s 2008-2009 treble-winning season, even though he missed the Champions League final due to suspension.
In 2011, a life-changing moment struck when Barcelona revealed Abidal’s diagnosis of a liver tumor. Fans worldwide rallied behind him, and during matches, supporters dedicated the 22nd minute to him.
Remarkably, Abidal not only recovered but also played the full 90 minutes in the 2011 Champions League Final, lifting the trophy.
However, the battle wasn’t over. In 2012, Abidal underwent a liver transplant, while showing incredible strength. His comeback to football in 2013 was a true triumph, with fans applauding his every move.
Despite the challenges, Abidal prioritized his health over his football career. His post-playing career took him back to Barcelona in 2018 as the director of football.
Yet, following a tough defeat in 2020, Abidal parted ways with the club. Eric Abidal’s story goes beyond the pitch, It is the enduring spirit of a true football warrior.
2. Seydou Keita
Seydou Keita is another Muslim player to grace Camp Nou, emerging as an Important player during his time with the Club.
Keita made history as the first Malian to don the famed Catalan colors. His journey began in 2008 when Barcelona shelled out €14 million to secure his talents, setting a release clause at a whopping €90 million.
Keita’s official debut came in a Champions League qualifier against Wisła Kraków, a match that ended in a 4-0 victory for Barcelona.
Although his league debut didn’t go as planned with a 0-1 loss to CD Numancia, Keita quickly gained his ground, scoring his first goal in November 2008 and finishing the season with 46 appearances as Barcelona clinched the treble.
Notable moments in his Barcelona tenure include a hat-trick in a 6-1 win against Real Zaragoza and a contract extension in 2010, tying him to the club until 2014.
However, in 2012, Keita bid farewell to Barcelona, invoking a clause in his contract. He made a surprising move to the Chinese Super League’s Dalian Aerbin FC, where he reportedly earned €14 million per year.
Keita’s football journey took another turn in 2014 when he returned to Spain, joining Valencia CF. His time there included both good and bad, like scoring Valencia’s fastest-ever goal in March 2014 and receiving a red card in a UEFA Europa League match.
He embarked on a new adventure in Serie A as Keita signed with A.S. Roma in 2014. His tenure was extended with a one-year contract renewal in 2015 before he retired at the age of 37 after a season in the Qatar Stars League with El Jaish SC.
3. Yaya Toure
In the summer of 2007, Yaya Touré’s career with Barcelona began, marking a significant time in the club’s history. His €10 million move showcased the club’s commitment to assembling a powerhouse team.
Touré’s official debut in August 2007 made fans feel they had secured a player who would be at the top of his game for many seasons.
Early on, Touré showed his prowess, scoring his first La Liga goal against Athletic Bilbao in September 2007. His versatility came to the fore during the 2007–08 Champions League quarter-final against Schalke 04, where he was instrumental in securing a spot in the semi-final.
Under the management of Pep Guardiola in the 2008–09 season, Touré faced competition in the midfield but proved his adaptability by playing as a center-back in the Champions League final due to team injuries.
His departure from Barcelona in 2010 marked the end of an era, but his impact on the field stayed. When Touré began playing before a pro contract, he was originally a striker, but evolved into a complete midfielder, often seamlessly transitioning between offensive and defensive roles.
His strengths were many: a wide passing range, exceptional vision, and physical prowess. His dynamic playing style earned him nicknames like “human train” and “colossus” for his powerful runs and physical presence.
One memorable moment came in the 2011–12 season with Manchester City when Touré’s late goals against Newcastle United moved his team to the top of the league.
His goal-scoring abilities were diverse, from powerful strikes from a distance to headers, free kicks, and penalties. He was described as a “carrier” or “surger,” Touré’s playing style involved late runs and ball-carrying skills.
His unique method of striking the ball, known as the “Yaya,” baffled goalkeepers, which made his shots hard to predict.
4. Ousmane Dembele
In 2017, FC Barcelona secured the services of Ousmane Dembélé, and he is one of the top Muslim players to play for Barcelona.
This signing made headlines with a whopping €105 million deal plus €40 million in add-ons. This move, following Neymar’s departure, marked him as one of the joint-second most expensive players in euros at that time.
Dembélé’s debut season in 2017-18 started with a bang, showcasing his skills with assists and goals. Despite an early hamstring injury sidelining him, he bounced back, scoring his first goal against Chelsea in the Champions League.
His contributions helped Barcelona clinch both La Liga and the Copa del Rey. The following season, Dembélé kept on to impress.
He sealed Barcelona’s 13th Supercopa de España title with a winning goal against Sevilla. His memorable solo goal against Tottenham Hotspur left fans and critics with a feeling I can’t explain, earning him the UEFA Champions League Goal of the Week.
However, injuries became a recurring theme for Dembélé. The 2019-20 season saw setbacks due to hamstring issues, with a serious tear requiring surgery and ruling him out for the rest of the season.
Regardless of the hurdles, he made a comeback in October 2020, when he scored in the Champions League against Juventus.
In 2021-22, Dembélé showcased his playmaking prowess, finishing as the top playmaker in La Liga with thirteen assists.
Barcelona rewarded him with a contract extension until June 2024. However, his journey with Barcelona came to an end in August 2023 when he joined Paris Saint-Germain for €50.4 million.
The transfer was a new experience for Dembélé, donning the number 23 jersey initially and later switching to number 10.
His PSG debut in August and subsequent contributions, including his first goal for the club, hinted at a promising future with the Ligue 1 giants.
5. Ibrahim Afellay
Ibrahim Afellay, the Dutch maestro, made waves when he joined FC Barcelona after a €3 million transfer. Signing up for four and a half years, he became a familiar face on the pitch, debuting in January 2011 against Athletic Bilbao.
Afellay displayed his skills, playing 28 matches in his first season, contributing crucially to Barcelona’s triumph in the 2010–11 season.
However, trouble hit in the 2011–12 pre-season when a hamstring injury sidelined Afellay for the Supercopa de España matches.
Regardless of returning to play in April 2012, a subsequent anterior cruciate ligament injury brought a seven-month recovery.
His resilience was evident when he returned to the field in 2013, even though manager Pep Guardiola didn’t include him in major matches against Chelsea and Real Madrid.
In a surprising move, Afellay joined FC Schalke 04 on loan for the 2012–13 season, contributing with goals against Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal.
Unfortunately, muscle injuries hampered his time in Germany, which led to a return to Spain and a critical evaluation of his issues with Barcelona’s medical staff.
Following a tough period, Afellay embarked on a loan spell with Olympiacos in 2014. The move proved successful, with Afellay winning the league and cup double in Greece.
Despite his achievements, Barcelona released him at the end of the 2014–15 season. The Premier League made a gesture, and Afellay answered, joining Stoke City in 2015.
He played a significant role, he scored goals and made a mark until a knee injury in 2016 interrupted his stellar performances.
Despite his return in 2017, injuries kept plaguing Afellay, leading to his eventual contract termination in January 2019.
A surprising turn of events occurred in 2019 when Afellay made a comeback with PSV, marking a return after nine years. However, in January 2021, he announced his retirement, expressing contentment with his football career.
6. Arda Turan
In July 2015, the football world witnessed the €34 million move of Arda Turan from Atlético to Barcelona. However, due to Barcelona’s transfer ban, Turan had to wait until January 2016 to make his debut.
Choosing the number 7 jersey, he made his debut with a notable performance in a Derbi barceloní clash against Espanyol.
Turan’s impact grew as he assisted Lionel Messi’s goal in his first Liga match against Granada. The midfielder’s prowess was excellent in the 2016 Supercopa de España when he scored twice in a 3–0 victory over Sevilla.
December 2016 saw him make his name in Barcelona’s history with a hat-trick in a Champions League match against Borussia Mönchengladbach.
However, seasons change, and so did Turan’s journey. A loan move to İstanbul Başakşehir followed, where he found the net in his debut.
Yet, a clash with an assistant referee brought a 16-match ban, later reduced to 10 games. Despite the setbacks, Turan’s loan was terminated in January 2020.
The homecoming arrived in August 2020 when Galatasaray signed Turan for a two-year deal. His captaincy, a result of Fernando Muslera’s injury, was a new life In his career.
However, the seasons rolled on, and injuries limited his on-field appearances. On September 12, 2022, Turan made a significant announcement via social media, that he decided to “hang up” his football boots.
The retirement marked the end of an era, celebrated with a formal video by the Libre Channel, giving a summary of Turan’s journey from Barcelona to the heartfelt decision to retire.
7. Rustu Recber
Rüştü Reçber kicked off his football career in a way that reads like a script. Initially a forward, he shifted gears to become a goalkeeper, which began an extraordinary career.
Early on, Rüştü faced two near misses with the Istanbul giants. Galatasaray’s offer was turned down at 17 because they wanted him in the youth team.
A potential move to Beşiktaş in 1993 derailed due to a serious car crash. His talent caught the eye of national manager Fatih Terim, who predicted Rüştü would become Turkey’s greatest goalkeeper.
In 1993, Fenerbahçe got him, and after a season on loan, he seized the spotlight, making 240 appearances, winning the Süper Lig twice, and wearing the captain’s armband.
In 2003, a twist of fate led Rüştü to Barcelona. A near deal with Arsenal soured due to a dispute with Arsène Wenger. Rijkaard’s preference for Valdés over Rüştü sparked disappointment, but his debut in the UEFA Cup showcased his skill.
The footballing journey continued with returns to Fenerbahçe and a stint with Beşiktaş. Rüştü’s impact at Fenerbahçe extended, which made him the second-most-featured goalkeeper in the club’s history.
A shift to Beşiktaş brought more success, including a league title in 2008–09 and a memorable Turkish Cup win in 2010–11. His time in Barcelona, though brief, was great.
Pataka is a consistent and avid follower of the round leather game. He communicates his passion by editing soccer posts for various soccer platforms.