Nelson Semedo: The man Barcelona had been looking for
Dani Alves was a key player in the Barcelona squad for many seasons. He was one of the top assist providers to Lionel Messi and was always an extra man in attacks created by Barcelona. His work down the right flank could not be matched by any other fullback. Arguably one the best right backs in the world, the Brazilian left Barcelona in 2016 after an 8-year long spell winning 21 trophies.
Barcelona become unstable after the departure of Alves right away as his absence could be felt in both the aspects of the game i.e. defending and attacking. After the Spanish club failed to find a world-class replacement for the Brazilian, Sergi Roberto, a La Masia graduate, was shifted to the right-back role. Aleix Vidal, who was brought from Sevilla, was also an option at that position but Vidal was more of a wing-back and lacked the quality to replace him.
Luis Enrique started many games with Sergi Roberto at the back and was criticised regularly for his decision to play him out of his natural position. Lately, Roberto has been very impressive, especially after his performance in the magnificent comeback achieved by Barcelona against PSG. He provided 6 assists for his team in the league and was happy to play in 32 games in the league but everyone knew he couldn't be the permanent solution.
Then Barcelona signed the Portuguese starlet, Nelson Semedo from SL Benfica for €30.5 million. He had played just 1 season for Benfica before arriving at the Camp Nou. He was surely instrumental in Benfica's historic 4th league title in a row.
The 23-year-old is known for his speed and confidence on the ball. His first touch on the ball is marvellous and often mesmerises the fans with the little tricks under his hat. He has played 3 games for the Spanish giants in the league so far, in which he has a decent 91% pass completion.
His connection with other players is also spectacular, especially with Pique and Messi. The newcomer has been keeping his game simple and has been playing safe but that's natural. He has certainly impressed the fans and the Boss. Semedo is also a loved figure in the dressing room.
Semedo surely looks to have solved some of Barcelona's problems at the right back spot. His arrival has also helped Sergi Roberto get back to the part of the ground he prefers to play in. On one hand, so far this season, we have seen Roberto coming on as a substitute in the midfield role and even starting the game in the midfield.
On the other hand, we have seen Aleix Vidal playing different positions on the right flank. Valverde has also shuffled Roberto, Aleix and Semedo in the full-back spot.
So, Semedo's transfer has been of great advantage to the Spanish club. He has helped other fellow teammates play their preferred position as well as fill in the right-back role beautifully. There is also a lot of comparison going on between Semedo and Dani Alves.
Semedo certainly has the attitude and technique to be world class. He also has the pace and vision to be able to float in crosses and create chances for the team. Maybe it's too early to compare him to Dani Alves and who knows what the future of Semedo could turn out to be. But as football fans, we can hope that he delivers well for Barcelona and Portugal.