Why Paco Alcácer needs to be starting every match for Barcelona
Paco Alcácer has spent several months out of favour this season. In fact, his playing time totalled just seven minutes in September and October combined. Just last month, rumours were circling that Alcácer was set for a January transfer out of Barcelona. But, now he has shown he deserves to be starting every match.
Ernesto Valverde has a growing list of injured top team players and Barcelona cannot afford to transfer players like Alcácer who can still have an impact. Luis Suárez may have scored a double this weekend against Leganés, but his form has also been questionable this season. In fairness, both of his goals this week came from opportunities that Alcácer created and which fell invitingly to the Uruguayan.
If we consider the five La Liga games that Alcácer has played for Barcelona this season, out of five games he has two goals and eight shots. It might not be comparable with the almost other-worldly statistics of Lionel Messi who is 12 goals in 12 games. But, considering the sporadic nature of Alcácer’s playing time, these statistics are respectable.
One of Alcácer’s strengths is short key passes. This ability suits Barcelona’s style of play, and is part of the reason that the Catalan club signed Alcácer only just last year for €30 million. Alcácer is good at link-up play as we saw again during the game against Leganés as he worked well together with Messi to get Barcelona in the box.
The Spanish striker also has a good burst of pace, he’s not the fastest striker out there, but he has more pace than some other Barcelona teammates. This pace, combined with his short passes, make him a potent striker who can haunt defenders.
Alcácer is clearly a dedicated player. It is difficult to be transferred to one of the big clubs like Barcelona and find yourself unable to get into the first team. When he first joined it was unclear exactly how he would integrate into the team, as the club seemed to have a plethora of strikers with Neymar, Messi and Suárez making a great trio up front. Alcácer seemed destined to be working as a permanent substitute.
But, with the departure of Neymar and subsequent acquisition and injury suffered by Dembélé, Alcácer has found a window of opportunity. The first few months of the season he was unable to capitalise, but it seems he has finally found a good run of form that should keep him in the starting team.
It requires commitment and focus to not play for two months and get oneself back into the starting 11. When Alcácer played against Sevilla earlier this month, he had to be substituted in the 66th minute because he ran himself ragged. The heat map shows his presence all over the pitch trying to prove his worth. As a result, he ensured that Valverde would pick him for this week’s match against Leganés.
If Alcácer keeps this hunger to get picked, he will soon gain back his consistency and confidence in front of goal. It’s up to Alcácer to keep working hard so Valverde has no choice but to pick him because more goals will come naturally with match-time.