Barcelona Transfers: 5 Teenagers Barcelona Should Sign ASAP
Preseason has begun at FC Barcelona, and with Tito Vilanova's first official game in charge just around the corner, the hunt for fresh young talent is well underway.
Jordi Alba was the first big-name signing to grace the Nou Camp, and could well make his debut in the friendly with Hamburg next week.
But the Catalans are far from finished in the transfer market, and are determined to acquire at least two more quality signings before the La Liga season begins.
Hundreds of names have been talked about, but Vilanova is an astute man and will only bring in someone he thinks can improve and adapt to the Barcelona regime.
The best way to do that is to buy young, and that's exactly what the 42-year-old intends to do.
Here are five teenagers who should be on their radar (if they're not already).
5) Thibaut Courtois: Chelsea
Although Courtois is a Chelsea player, Barcelona fans should be very familiar with the talents of the young shot-stopper.
The 19-year-old spent the year on loan at Atletico Madrid, and made a huge impression with some outstanding displays.
In 37 La Liga games, Courois conceded just 46 goals and was a big reason why they qualified for next year's Europa Cup after finishing a highly impressive fifth with 56 points.
And Madrid will be a big draw for any team in this season's competition, as they are defending champions.
Courtois was a constant presence en route to the Europa final, where he kept a clean sheet in a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao.
Of course it will not be easy to sign the youngster; however, I think his immediate impact will have surprised Chelsea, who obviously see Courtious as a future No. 1.
That is not going to happen anytime soon—Petr Cech just signed a new four-year deal to remain at Stamford Bridge.
Will he be happy to be continually loaned out for the next three or four years? I doubt it.
And a constant spell sitting on the bench is even less attractive.
He is already proven in La Liga, and Barcelona would be wise to make some initial inquiries into his availability—even if they have to pay big money.
The EPL is a completely different beast as David de Gea found out very quickly.
With the future of Victor Valdes less than certain after a below-par season, Courtois could be a huge sleeper signing.
4) Juanmi: Malaga
Another familiar face to Barcelona fans, Malaga's Juanmi is set for a breakout season in La Liga.
The striker has had to wait patiently for his chance to shine after constantly being demoted following a succession of unsuccessful high-profile signings—the latest being Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Linked with a move to Liverpool, Juanmi could be available for the right price before his career gets white-hot.
He made his La Liga debut at the tender age of 16, but has had to be content with learning his trade with Malaga B before his promotion last season.
As a striker he is still raw, but knows how to find the back of the net when needed.
Juanmi represented Spain at U-17,-18 and -19 level while scoring 15 goals in a combined 27 games.
It may be one of the riskier signings Vilanova would make, but the rewards could be spectacular.
3) Iker Muniain: Athletic Bilbao
I know what you're going to say—why does Barcelona need another left-sided player when they have just signed Jordi Alba?
The answer is in my intro—the likes of Muniain at 19 years old have the ability to adapt, and that's exactly what this superstar already is: versatile.
Muniain can play as a winger, on the left-hand side of a midfield three or as a second striker. A youth product of Bilbao, Muniain has emerged as one of the hottest teenagers in world football.
He has represented Spain at every youth level before getting his first senior cap when replacing Cesc Fabregas during a 5-0 win over Venezuela.
He would be very unlikely to make the starting line up but would flourish coming off the bench while giving a break to the the likes of Pedro, Villa and even Alba himself.
94 appearances in two-and-a-half seasons show Muniain's durability—something that will most certainly be needed with the extra competitions FC Barcelona are constantly involved in.
2) Ryan Bertrand: Chelsea
Ryan Bertrand is destined to be a superstar.
After coming through the Chelsea Academy, the defender got his big-league experience through a variety of lower-league loans, including Norwich, Reading and Nottingham Forrest.
But it's with the Blues where his very best appearances have been understandably noticed.
Chelsea's injury and suspension list forced Roberto Di Matteo to start Bertrand in the Champions League final on the left side of midfield.
His performance was beyond his years, and only a knock forced the youngster off the pitch in the 70th minute.
He represented England at all youth levels, and is set to feature heavily in the first team squad this season.
Bertrand will also be representing Team GB in this summer's Olympics.
Comfortable in defence or midfield, Barca would probably use the youngster at the back, and a bid of £6 million could be enough to get him on a plane to Catalonia.
Would provide cover for Alba to push forward—the perfect replacement for Eric Abidal
1) Ryo Miyaichi: Arsenal
With all the talk focusing on the sensation that is Jack Wilshire, the talents of Ryo Miyaichi have flown slightly under the radar.
That's not to say he isn't highly regarded—in fact that couldn't be further from the truth—but he will be significantly easier to prise away from the Emirates than Wilshire.
An attacking winger who can play on both flanks, Miyaichi's delivery is nothing short of astonishing for one so young.
Owen Coyle could not have praised the 19-year-old any more during last season's loan spell at Bolton. He was one of the few good things to come out of their season.
Made his senior Japan debut last month coming on as a substitute in a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan—it will be the first of many.
Barcelona may well send Miyaichi on loan for a season before bringing him into the first team fold, but I personally think he would be ready for at least a spot on the bench.
Arsenal cannot hold on to their players at the moment, and a big bid for the starlet could be successful.
It might take upwards of £10m to acquire the midfielder's services, but the image rights and merchandise sales from the Far East will more than pay for the acquisition.