When Javier Mascherano was stretchered off the pitch during Barcelona’s 2-2 draw with PSG, not many realized just how serious the injury was. On came 22-year-old Marc Bartra, and now it appears as though fans will be seeing more of the defender in the coming weeks.
Ever since the club announced that Mascherano would miss six weeks of action, all eyes have been focused on young Bartra. The time has finally come for the La Masia graduate to determine his future at the Catalan club.
For the next few weeks, Bartra will be the sole choice to line up beside Gerard Pique, and rightly so.
Carles Puyol just recently underwent knee surgery and it is not known just how long he will be out (via Daily Mail). Eric Abidal is also not ready to assume such a role after just returning after nearly a year off the pitch.
There are other options such as Alex Song. But after a failed attempt to convert to defense in the beginning of the season, it is confirmed that Song will only play a backup role to Sergio Busquets.
Busquets is the only remaining player that could step into the defense. However, with Busquets severely needed in the Blaugrana midfield it is highly unlikely that he will slot into the backline for such a long period.
That being said, the duty of filling in for the injured defenders will surely fall to young Marc Bartra.
Despite the sudden injury crisis at Barcelona being a very dark time, it will prove to be Bartra’s career defining time.
It is no secret that the club is in the market for a center-back and no doubt a high-profile target will be brought in this summer. With so many players in front of him and having not seen the pitch for quite some time, it is unlikely that Bartra will fight for a place in the Barcelona squad.
If Bartra is able to star in the coming weeks, he may be able to save his career at Barcelona. As every La Masia graduate dreams of playing for Barcelona, Bartra is no doubt hoping to showcase his best form.
The young defender has showed moments of brilliance this season.
Though he has only played in eight matches this season, Bartra has been fairly promising. For instance, against Celtic the 22-year-old showed signs of truly being able to succeed Puyol by performing extraordinarily and looking quite calm.
In fact, his statistics are pretty impressive thus far as well (via Squawka).
Marc Bartra has won 83 percent of challenges this season and has used his height advantage to help defend set pieces. He has also showed the ability to play with the ball at his feet by successfully completing 90 percent of his passes.
But the defender has also showed that he is still very young and inexperienced.
Bartra plays a very similar style as Gerard Pique and it has appeared that the two cannot perform well together. But fans are hoping that gaining experience will allow for Bartra to realize his true potential.
The next few weeks will be very difficult for everyone at the Catalan club. But for Marc Bartra, they will be the most important weeks of his entire career.
If Bartra shows he is truly able to perform, he may earn the permanent spot that fans know he is capable of. But if the young defender does not step up in Barcelona’s time of need, his chances of becoming a true Barcelona player will surely be over.
There is no doubting the immeasurable potential of the young defender. But it is finally time for Bartra to make his name known and state his case. Fans will be hoping that he not only realizes his potential, but that he can fix the problems in the Blaugrana backline.
Will Marc Bartra step up in Barcelona’s time of need? Will the young defender ever break into the first team? Don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.
Tre’ Atkinson. Follow me on Twitter for more discussions on Marc Bartra, Barcelona and La Liga.