Predicting a Possible Barcelona Starting XI for 2015
Looking through the Barcelona squad, it is frightening how much life could be left in this current generation.
Just five players are currently the wrong side of 30: Victor Valdes, Jose Pinto, Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez and David Villa.
Delving deeper into the club, the array of talent in the B team—Gerard Deulofeu, Rafinha, Sergi Roberto, Jean Marie Dongou—is likely to press for first-team places in the next few years.
So forget 2013—let's jump to 2015 instead and take a look at what may be the starting Barcelona XI...
GK: Victor Valdes
The only member of the 30-plus club who will feature in this XI, Valdes will only turn 33 in January 2015—hardly old for a goalkeeper.
Often cited as unreliable, he does maintain a number of desirable qualities to keep his spot as Barca's No.1.
A home-grown player who is comfortable to play the ball from the back, it is likely he'll be sticking around despite any rumoured interest in other 'keepers.
DEF: Martin Montoya
Martin Montoya's introduction for Dani Alves against Levante produced a much talked about home-grown XI for Barcelona.
Already featuring for Barca on a regular basis and named in recent Spain squads, expect the right-back to displace Dani Alves before 2015.
The only exception to this is the possibility of Montoya moving inside to partner Gerard Pique.
DEF: Jordi Alba
Released when he was 16, Alba returned this summer on the back of an outstanding season for Valencia.
He's also made himself Spain's first-choice left-back, and was one of the revelations of the tournament at the European Championships this year.
The 23-year-old will do well to keep an eye on another young left-back, though. Alejandro Grimaldo, 17, also joined from Valencia, and is held in high esteem at Barcelona.
DEF: Gerard Pique
Pique has recovered from last season's troubles to help Spain win Euro 2012 and regain his place in the Barca XI.
At 6'4", it seems surprising to note that Pique always lacked a physical presence—something rectified during his spell with Manchester United.
While Carles Puyol will be turning 37 in 2015, Pique will turn 28, and will be expected to still be the same rock in the Barcelona defence.
DEF: Nevan Subotic
While Javier Mascherano and Alex Song provide reliable cover as central defenders, it is widely expected that one day La Blaugrana will sign an actual centre-half.
Nevan Subotic would be a great fit should he be that signing. Previously they have missed out on Thiago Silva, while Subotic's colleague Mats Hummels could also be an option (via TalkSport).
Of the youngsters Andreu Fontas, on loan at Mallorca, Marc Barta, Marc Muniesa and Sergi Gomez may one day make the step-up, but it is doubtful they will ever establish themselves.
MID: Sergio Busquets
Slowly but surely, people seem to be coming round to the idea of Sergio Busquets.
He has had no shortage of detractors in the past, but as he sits in midfield wearing a pair of slippers, it is becoming increasingly obvious of his importance to the Barca side.
Now just 24, he will turn 27 during the summer of 2015. Can anyone honestly say he won't still be a mainstay in La Blaugrana's XI?
MID: Cesc Fabregas
Xavi's recent contract extension means he will still be around in 2015, but it is likely he won't have as much say—Andrea Pirlo and Paul Scholes may suggest otherwise.
So who is his heir? Mascherano and Song are different kind of alternatives, while Thiago has long been cited as a future regular.
Going off of recent performances, it seems likely that Fabregas could be the man to drop into that role.
MID: Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta lit up the European Championships in the summer, scored the winning goal at the last World Cup and is still just 28.
When the clock ticks into 2015, the little midfielder will be 30.
There's very few players who can offer what Iniesta does—outside or inside Barcelona—so expect him to be doing it for a few more years yet.
FWD: Gerard Deulofeu
Of all the players to hone their skills in the B side, hopes in Barcelona are highest for Gerard Deulofeu.
If his development continues, it's likely he'll have jumped ahead of Pedro, Alexis Sanchez, Cristian Tello and Isaac Cuenca in the queue to start by 2015.
A quick forward who can play on either side, his directness has been his main criticism in the past. Barcelona are the perfect side to nurture his passing game.
Will he? Won't he? People have been speculating whether Neymar will leave Santos for Barcelona ever since Bill Clinton was president.
As other clubs also begin to circle around him, Barca seem to remain the Brazilian's preferred destination.
With the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, he may like to stay at Santos till then. The plan would then see him leave for the Camp Nou as a World Champion in readiness for 2014/15.
FWD: Lionel Messi
If you had a player like Lionel Messi in your side, would you get rid of him?
Ronaldinho, Eto'o, Ibrahimovic and soon David Villa will all have left due to failing to get out of the little Argentinean's huge shadow.
Hopefully we will get the chance to see if he and Neymar will flourish together.
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