Create
Notifications
New User posted their first comment
Advertisement

3 fringe players who could be key for Barcelona this season

AC Milan v FC Barcelona - International Champions Cup 2018
Munir in action for Barcelona during pre-season
Elvis Ume O
ANALYST
Modified 19 Aug 2018, 13:08 IST
Top 5 / Top 10
Advertisement

Barcelona is one of the biggest clubs in world football, and is the third biggest club in the world in terms of revenue generated at the end of the last financial year.

Some of the greatest players in football's history have worn the colours of Barcelona, and with 90 major trophies won, the club is the most successful by the number of trophies won in the history of European club football.

Barcelona's famed La Masia academy is widely regarded as one of the best football development centers in the world, and some of the greatest players over the last two decades including Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez and Sergio Busquets honed their football skills in the walls of La Masia.

The club's substantial football might means it also has the resources to attract world-class players, and the lure of playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world adds an extra advantage.

These factors enable Barcelona to boast one of the most fearsome squads in world football, and competition for starting places is extremely stiff, as almost all the players in the Blaugrana are among the best in their respective positions.

So many players who would have been guaranteed starters elsewhere find playing time hard to come by at Barca, and a lot have expressed desires to leave the club in search of regular playing time.

However, departures of some key players and change in plans by the manager mean that some of these hitherto fringe players could find themselves playing major roles this season. Here are three fringe players who could feature heavily for Barcelona this season.

#3 Munir El Haddadi

Back in 2014, the stage looked set for 22-year-old Munir El Haddadi to become the next La Masia product to take the footballing world by storm.

He joined the youth ranks of Barcelona from Atletico Madrid in 2011, and with 11 goals in 10 matches, he finished as the top scorer at the first ever edition of the UEFA Youth League of 2014, which was won by Barcelona, with El Haddadi scoring a brace in the 3-0 win over Benfica in the final.

Advertisement

He was promptly promoted to the senior team at the start of the 2014/2015 season, and scored on his official debut for the club in a La Liga match against Elche at Camp Nou, becoming the third youngest player to score a senior goal for Barcelona (behind Bojan Krkic and Lionel Messi). He finished the 2014/2015 as one of the joint top scorers in the Copa Del Rey (which was won by Barcelona).

He was also handed his Spain senior team debut that year, replacing Koke for 13 minutes in a Euro 2016 qualifier against Macedonia (this would cost him in his appeal to switch allegiances to Morocco prior to the 2018 World Cup, as he had featured in a competitive match, which was against FIFA's rules of eligibility).

The arrival of Suarez at Barcelona in the summer of 2014, however, derailed El Haddadi's progress, and he increasingly found himself out of the first-team picture, making a combined total of just 25 La Liga appearances (most of them from the bench) over the next two seasons, scoring five goals, while he has also failed to add to his solitary international cap won four years ago.

He impressed at loan spells to Valencia in 2016/2017 and particularly last season at Alaves where he made 32 appearances in the league, scoring 10 goals.

Advertisement

The Spanish-Moroccan enjoyed a new lease of life at Alaves last season and would seek playing time to continue his upward trajectory. Latest reports emanating from Italy indicate that Serie A side Udinese are interested in his services, but Barcelona are keen on him staying.

With the relative underperformance by Luis Suarez last season, and the expression of confidence in his abilities by Ernesto Valverde, this might finally be the true breakout season for Munir El Haddadi at Barcelona.

1 / 3 NEXT
Published 19 Aug 2018, 13:08 IST
Advertisement
Fetching more content...
App download animated image Get the free App now
❤ī¸ Favorites Edit