The La Masia academy is known to be one of the best in the world, churning out top quality players for FC Barcelona.
Even the ones who cannot make the grade at the Catalan club are considered to be a grade above the other players, as they look to try their fortunes elsewhere.
Every season a few young talents from the academy are waiting in the wings for their chance to show that they can play for the Catalan club. However, the Blaugrana already have one of the best teams in the world, with many top class players having to serve their time on the bench.
While it may be difficult to crack the Barca starting XI, manager Luis Enrique might be more inclined to use his squad players next season after an exhausting run of fixtures saw the club throw away a nine point lead in the La Liga, and being knocked out of the Champions League. Here are a few players who could do well for the Catalans next season.
Position: Defensive midfield
The young midfielder has been one of the best players in the Barcelona B team for quite some time now. Samper plays the unique role of a holding midfielder, who acts as a protective cover for defense. While this is one of the most underrated jobs in football, Samper’s role is crucial to the Barcelona setup. With all the midfielders and fullbacks bombing on up field, the team needs someone to stay back and man the backline.
Sergio Busquets has made the role his own for quite a few years now, and it seems difficult that anyone can replace him. However, with Barcelona expected to do well in three long competitions, we could well see manager Luis Enrique using more of his squad than before, which means that Samper could more first team appearances.
Another thing that Samper brings to the plate is his good leadership skills. The 21 year old has captained the Barcelona B side on many occasions and will start dictating things more, as he gets more appearances under his belt. Being a boy form the city of Barcelona itself, Samper has all it takes to become a local hero at the Camp Nou.
Munir El Haddadi
Munir is one of the best young talents from the Barcelona academy right now and will definitely make an impact in the first team in the future. However, the biggest problem for him right now is that Barcelona have three of the best forwards in the world. With Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez spearheading Barcelona’s attack, it seems very difficult for Munir to break into the first team right now.
However, the Moroccan born Spain international can be used as a squad player by Enrique. He can come in handy when any one of these three strikers feel the fatigue.
Barcelona have marked Munir out as one of their future stars by slapping a €35 million release clause on him. A loan move could give him a lot of exposure, but if the Catalans want to keep him in the future, they need to help him inculcate the Barcelona ideology at the club itself. Munir has a tendency to take shots on his own, instead of passing the ball. Staying at Barcelona, and training with great players like Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Iniesta can help him a lot with this regard.
Position: Attacking midfield
He might have been termed as the next Lionel Messi due to his ability to move forward with the ball and shoot from long range, but Halilovic’s main strength lies in conducting the play from midfield. The season-long loan spell at Sporting Gijon has helped the Croat settle into life in La Liga, and this might be the perfect time for Halilovic to take Camp Nou by storm.
Halilovic has been an immense influence in the Sporting Gijon side, scoring three goals and providing five assists in the La Liga so far. Although Gijon do not play the same level of passing as Barcelona, they do rely on an attacking game, and the fact the teenager has adapted to Spanish football so fast speaks a lot about his abilities.
With the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas, and Thiago Alcantara gone, and Andres Iniesta ageing, this is the best time for Halilovic to prove that he can take over from the old guard and dictate play at the Camp Nou. His technical abilities and vision makes the 19 year old a great option for Barcelona’s midfield. Also, he would have the great Iniesta to mentor him for a few seasons.