The last couple of seasons have been quite the rollercoaster ride for fans of Montpellier, with the incredible achievement of being crowned Ligue 1 champions for the first time in 2011-12 a distant memory last term as they toiled against relegation.
With the new French campaign underway there are high hopes that the Stade de la Mosson outfit will return to the right end of the table this term, with Rolland Courbis’ side winning two of their first three games.
After the summer departure of key attacking threat Rémy Cabella to Newcastle, it was clear that Montpellier needed to bolster their offensive ranks.
The south coast side’s most eye-catching bit of business so far has been the loan addition of Lucas Barrios from Spartak Moscow, with the Paraguayan set to lead the line for the team this season.
Since the departure of Olivier Giroud to Arsenal in the summer of 2012, MHSC have struggled to find a centre forward to get the goals to fire them into continued contention.
With gifted French youngster M’Baye Niang returning to AC Milan after a six-month temporary deal with the Ligue 1 side last term, Barrios has been signed to fill the void.
The South American’s career to date has been an almost equal mix of clinical marksmanship and all-encompassing disappointment.
Nicknamed La Pantera, or the panther, in his homeland after a ruthless streak in front of goal for Colo Colo, Barrios earned a move to Borussia Dortmund in July 2009.
Barrios was a key figure for Dortmund in their transition from an unpredictable mid-table outfit to the side that continually impresses in the Bundesliga and Champions League today.
The Paraguayan netted 19 goals in his debut campaign to fire Klopp’s men back into European qualification with a fifth placed finish. The following season 16 strikes were critical in ensuring Dortmund were crowned 2010-11 national champions, ending a nine-year wait to be Germany’s top team.
In total, for Colo Colo and Dortmund, Barrios netted 84 goals in four seasons and at the time was adjudged as one of the most accomplished forwards in European football.
However, since the summer of 2011 it has all went decidedly sideways for the Paraguayan.
Participation and injury at the 2011 Copa America meant Barrios returned to Germany unfit and unavailable, allowing Robert Lewandowski to capitalise and claim Dortmund’s main striker role; a position he would not relinquish.
As a result Barrios spent the 2011-12 campaign on the Signal Iduna Park sidelines, starting only three Bundesliga games.
Since then the South American has played the role of journeyman and failed to get anywhere near the heights of his early Dortmund days.
A peculiar move to Guangzhou Evergrande in China was followed by a botched period in Russia with Spartak; both spells have seen Barrios continue the role of fringe man from his final days in Germany.
As such, the loan move to Montpellier certainly makes sense for the player.
It is clear that his confidence is lacking, while the absence of regular first-team football has robbed the poacher of his sharpness.
At the Stade de la Mosson Barrios will be first choice number nine and get the chance to prove himself once more in the European game.
He has started two domestic games for Montpellier so far this term, without scoring, but signs are there that Barrios may well not be a spent force just yet.