Barcelona, Real Madrid's dreaded keep-ups test: Aubameyang passes where many other signings have failed

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was officially unveiled as a Barcelona player this week after completing his free transfer from Arsenal, stepping on to the Camp Nou pitch for the first time wearing the famous Blaugrana jersey.

As is usually the case with new arrivals at Camp Nou, the 32-year-old striker was tasked with showcasing his ball juggling skills in front of the cameras -- an audition he passed with flying colours.

Aubaemyang could be showing his skills on the filed as soon as Sunday, when Barca host LaLiga champions Atletico Madrid (stream LIVE at 10:05 a.m. ET on ESPN+ in the U.S.).

Plenty of players have been through similar initiations on their first day at Spain's biggest clubs, with some flourishing and some floundering with the eyes of the world fixed upon them.

Desperate to prove their capabilities to a new set of expectant fans, it should be a simple enough task to keep a football in the air for just a few minutes and, like Aubameyang, many manage just fine.

However, for every player that comes through unscathed there is a cautionary tale of those who fluff their opening lines, whether through nerves or misplaced confidence.

Here is a look at some of the best and worst examples of players attempting to wow both the Barcelona and Real Madrid crowds at their presentation ceremonies.

- ESPN+ guide: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, FA Cup, more (U.S.)
- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
- Don't have ESPN? Get instant access


Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona)

A fine example that should be followed more often, Coutinho kept things nice and simple during his unveiling at Barca in 2018 by rattling off a string of well-executed keep-ups without succumbing to any unforced errors.

Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)

Having signed from Chelsea in a huge transfer that could cost Madrid up to €150m, Hazard delighted the Bernabeu at his presentation in 2019 with a seamless array of flicks and tricks before belting a hail of golden footballs into the stands for fans to keep as mementos of the day. Sadly, his injury-blighted playing career at the club has not lived up to this opening.

Neymar (Barcelona)

With Brazilian football's most exhilarating young talent arriving in a €57m transfer in 2013, Barcelona fans were not sold short when a 21-year-old Neymar introduced himself by reeling though a plethora of freestyle flourishes without missing a beat.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

With over 80,000 excited fans gathered to witness his arrival at the Bernabeu in 2009, Ronaldo lived up to his superstar billing. The world-record signing confidently led the crowd in a chant of club motto "Hala Madrid!" before demonstrating his quick reflexes and brilliant ball skills. The Portugal forward did actually momentarily bungle a keep-up routine at one point, but we'll forgive him because keeping the ball in the air while wearing studs on a wooden stage is no mean feat.

Ronaldinho (Barcelona)

Ever the showman, Ronaldinho's lively welcome at Camp Nou in 2003 was chock full of flair as the Brazil great spectacularly entertained his new fans by juggling the ball hither and thither, balancing it on various parts of his body, and even kissing it.


Luka Jovic (Real Madrid)

Perhaps all too aware of the disproportionate level of analysis that player presentations at the Bernabeu can be subjected to, Jovic went for the safety-first approach at his unveiling in 2019. However, if any of the Madrid fans who turned up to see the €60m signing from Eintracht Frankfurt blinked at the wrong moment then they would have missed his brief, uninspired effort. Sometimes it pays to be bold.

Martin Braithwaite (Barcelona)

Things were going fairly well for Braithwaite as he went through the motions with some fairly basic drills out on the Camp Nou pitch in 2020. However, as confidence began to build the Denmark international stepped things up a notch -- a decision he quickly came to regret as his skill repertoire ran dry in front of the watching world.

Danilo (Real Madrid)

Danilo mustered a total of five keep-ups at his Real Madrid introduction in 2015 before things went hopelessly awry for the Brazilian full-back. He also suffered the double indignity of having his big unveiling overshadowed by fans inside the Bernabeu loudly chanting not for him, but for goalkeeper David de Gea who had recently been linked with a transfer to the club.

Sergino Dest (Barcelona)

At his presentation in 2020, Dest took the unconventional stance of starting with the ball sandwiched between his knees, and spent the first 10 excruciating seconds in disarray while he singularly failed to bring it under his spell.

Theo Hernandez (Real Madrid)

Signed directly from rivals Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2017, Hernandez was obviously under immediately scrutiny from the very first time he pulled on that famous white jersey. After giving a big thumbs-up to the cameras, the French left-back managed six increasingly wayward kicks before having to pull the plug entirely as the ball began to get away from him.