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Sports Features of Thursday, 24 January 2019


Full package: What KP Boateng brings to Barcelona

Kevin has joined Barca on loan Kevin has joined Barca on loan

Few footballers come with the baggage Kevin-Prince Boateng possesses, and although he’s already been at FC Barcelona a couple of days (following his shocking transfer from Sassuolo to Catalonia earlier this week), even featuring in Wednesday night’s Copa del Rey defeat at Sevilla, fans of his new club are yet to discover all that the eccentric but undoubtedly gifted star brought along from Emilia-Romagna. There’d be ample time for Boateng to unpack and put it all on display in the next few months, though, but here’s a preview:


Boateng isn’t a great goalscorer, but he certainly is a scorer of great goals (if you don’t get the difference, kindly reach for the next slide). For a forward yet to hit the 100-goal mark, Boateng sure knows how to garnish his rare finishes with a generous amount of sparkle — and Barça do know a thing or two about that. It was against the Blaugrana in 2011, after all, that Boateng (then with AC Milan) blitzed past Eric Abidal (now Barça’s director of football) with a deft piece of skill to score one of the best goals of his career thus far. Especially in Spain, with Las Palmas, did Boateng switch the style on, netting a Fifa Puskas Award contender versus Villareal in La Liga. The former Borussia Dortmund man may not guarantee an awful lot of goals — Barça would look to Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez for those — but he’d likely have even those geniuses awestruck with the few he gets in.


Boateng is as passionate a footballer as you’d ever find. He oozes intensity — a special brand distilled and refined in all the places he’s ever played — through each pore, and Barça would feel that fiery spirit and character as the club homes in on targets in all competitions. Not that the La Liga leaders don’t have enough fire in their bones — supplied by the likes of Arturo Vidal, an early candidate for Boateng’s best-mate — already, but the new guy would surely turn it up a notch. The kitchen is about to get hotter, people!


For a side that plays with such flair and flow, one would imagine Barça’s players have just as much fun in the dressing room and out at the Sant Joan Despi training grounds (see footage of Boateng’s ‘initiation’). And while there is no shortage of hilarious moments — between Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez, there are usually enough jokes and pranks to go around — light-hearted, life-of-the-party Boateng could jump right to the front of the club’s queue of clowns with his unique circus.


These days, Boateng is no more the wild tabloid-magnet he once was in his youthful years. Though relatively sober, his ‘bad boy’ reputation precedes him and he still struggles to stay out of the spotlight. In fact, just before his transfer to Barça popped up, there had been speculation that Boateng and his current partner, Melissa Satta, were working on a split, according to A second divorce — as well as any fresh controversies Boateng may brew in his new environs — would surely make headlines and get tongues wagging.


Of the three global icons Boateng confesses he’d always wanted to meet, only Nelson Mandela (who he did have an encounter with before the revered statesman’s demise) was the most reserved; the others, pop star Michael Jackson and boxing legend Muhammad Ali, were both thrilling showmen in their time. Unsurprisingly, Boateng turns heads too when he decides to play the part of an entertainer. Remember that memorable night in May 2011 when the only league title of his career was secured at AC Milan? Boateng made the San Siro pitch his stage during the celebrations and treated Rossoneri — and the wider world — to an ‘MJ’ impression that would have made the late ‘King of Pop’ proud. With Barça on their way to a second consecutive La Liga crown, as well as retaining prospects of winning other silverware the club remains in contention for, Boateng wouldn’t lack opportunities to serve another dose of his showmanship at the Camp Nou, Europe’s biggest arena, if in the mood.