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Paco Alcacer: The next number 9 of Barcelona

Rhetojit Guha
7.99K   //    08 Oct 2018, 14:35 IST

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Gone are the days Romário, Ronaldo Nazário or Rivaldo where banging in the goals for the Blaugranas. Gone are the days when Ronaldinho Gaúcho was enthralling the Camp Nou crowd with his magical trickery or Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o were cleaning up defences. Even gone are the days of Barcelona boasting arguably the best-attacking triplet upfront consisting of Messi, Suárez and Neymar ( MSN ). Currently the attacking onus of the Camp Nou faithful's lies on the shoulders of ever magical Lionel Messi, supported by Luis Suárez, Philippe Coutinho and the Ousmane Dembélé.

Though on paper the names are heavyweights, the actual situation is a bit different. If the trend of last season and this season up-till this date is anything to go by, Luis Suárez is on a downhill journey and at almost 32 years of age, it must not be that huge of a surprise. Ousmane Dembélé (21) is still the bright young boy in class, brimming with potential and on occasions stunning the world with his masterstroke movement and stunning goals. Yet, he is still to harness his full capabilities and master the art of consistency. More matches and training alongside the G.O.A.T, Suárez and other established teammates are sure to help his development. While Philippe Coutinho seems more of a player envisioned for the midfield than the attack, he is looked at as the solution to the gaping hole left by Andrés Iniesta.

A close evaluation would reveal that the situation is much better than what the last paragraph has portrayed it to be, and maybe it can hold Barcelona's quality stable, even without any new transfers in the recent future, especially when you consider the man who is leading Barcelona's front-line, Lionel Messi. On the other hand Luis Suárez though is on the wan. He still has a huge lot to contribute on the pitch and off the pitch, with his sackful of experience and magical understanding of the game and mythic coordination with Messi , this may, in fact, serve as a boon to young talents like Ousmane Dembélé and Munir El Haddadi.

Among all these world-renowned big money names a name that often has got lost, especially since the last 2 seasons, is that of Paco Alcácer. He joined Barcelona during the tutelage of Luis Enrique during the 2016-17 season, as a young backup to the dangerous MSN, for a not so cheap price of €30 million from Valencia

At Valencia, he was given the captain's armband at the young age of 20. He had even managed to rack up 13 international call-ups for the Spanish National Team and even found the net 6 times by his 22nd birthday. But, what followed was far from ideal, the already established, gruesome MSN, could barely be budged from their starting roles. And after Neymar's departure, Alcácer was bogged down with a couple of bad niggling injuries and the big money / branded arrivals in the transfer market. Though he did more than a decent job when called upon or afforded an opportunity,7 goals from 23 appearances out of which 9 were starts and 14 where from the bench, is very respectable. He deputized wherever the coach needed him to, be it as Central Striker or Left Winger or even his unfamiliar position in the right side of attack and banged in some important goals.

Even the manager's seem to have a lot of confidence in Alcácer. Ernesto Valverde handed him the captains armband last season during the Copa Catalunya final against Espanyol when certain first-choice players were rested. It is also evident that Valverde still has plans for Alcácer, by the fact that he was loaned out this season, instead of being sold straight away.

His loan to Borussia Dortmund has been nothing short of sensational for his career. He has already scored 7 goals in just 4 appearances, which seems like a Messi-esque statistic. This short-term move will ensure he gets a load of playing time and is able to fight his confidence back, which he had lost sitting on the bench the last 2 years. And bides time for Suárez grow old enough to accept more of a supporting role on the bench when Alcácer returns to Barcelona. And the fact that at Dortmund he would be privy to a variety of passing philosophy gameplay, just adds to Alcácer case. It will enable him to impress the crowd and the bosses of Barcelona, to earn his spot back in the squad, when he dons Spanish jersey, as his displays for Dortmund had warranted a place in Luis Enriques La Furia Roja, for the upcoming international break.

In conclusion, the point stressed on in this article is that , maybe Valverde and Bartomeu are better of focusing their energy on enriching Barcelona's attack, for the future by keeping their wallets in their pockets , and not going on mad chases after players like Griezmann and Dybala, and providing opportunities to already existing talents in the club like Alcácer and maybe even Munir. This would enable Barcelona re-establish its strong Spanish base, and identify which it has lost.