10 Barcelona Youngsters to Excite the Club's Fans
Barcelona supporters can relax. The talent coming up through the youth ranks at La Masia is simply mind-blowing and will be the envy of football clubs worldwide.
One or two are already knocking in the door of the first-team picture with a handful of others not far behind.
Importantly, there is excellence in all areas, not just in the attacking positions.
Suggestions of impropriety in procuring youngsters is what led to the FIFA transfer ban, currently suspended.
Should any ban be reinstated, it shouldn't hurt the Blaugrana half as much as many expect, given the plentiful array of talent at their disposal.
Let's take a look at 10 youngsters who will excite the Barca faithful.
Just shy of his 19th birthday, Elohor Godswill is the type of defender that Barcelona could do with right now.
Although there is still work to be done before we will see the Juvenil A (U19) captain in the first-team picture, it would be a surprise if the Nigerian doesn't make it to the very top.
Tall, strong, good in the air and quick across the ground, Godswill can play in either central defence or at right-back.
Per talkSPORT, comparisons have been made with Eric Abidal. If the youngster comes anywhere close to matching the Frenchman's impact, Barca fans are in for a treat.
Lee Seung Woo
Lee Seung Woo is one of the young players who is at the centre of the transfer row between Barcelona and FIFA.
Dermot Corrigan of ESPN noted Sepp Blatter's agreement of FIFA's regulations which saw the Korean banned from competitive action for the Blaugrana, having to content himself instead with playing in various friendly cup competitions Europe-wide.
Looking at the video above, it's completely understandable as to why Barca did everything in their power to sign a very young Lee.
Super-quick with two good feet and great balance, Lee is calm in possession, and despite his stature, he is extremely hard to shake off the ball.
As long as Barcelona can get through the legal wrangle, then they have an absolute gem of a player on their hands.
Alen Halilovic has been the unfortunate recipient of the moniker "The Croatian Messi." Hardly fair for a player who isn't 18 until June.
Halilovic, signed from Dinamo Zagreb, really is a special talent mind you. The Guardian noted:
As almost anyone who has seen him play will testify, Halilovic really has that something special about him and could become one of the best players in the world in the coming years. [...] it was always clear that he would leave Dinamo before making his true mark on the pitch for the club.
Dinamo's director of football Zoran Mamic stoked up the pressure on his young shoulders when he said, per that Guardian report:
I'm fully aware of how pretentious this may sound, but he's a Messi-type player if there ever was one.
High praise indeed but not something that appears to faze the youngster. When playing, it's like he's still in the street with friends, playing for the hell of it without a care in the world. It just so happens he's better than everyone else.
Predominantly left-footed, like Messi he prefers to play wide right and cut inside before unleashing a ferocious shot, often leading to a goal.
And like all of the best players, he seems to glide across the pitch, with a real ease and grace to his play.
Intelligent beyond his years, his rise has seen him become the second-youngest player to play in the Champions League, and he has already fulfilled a dream of full international honours.
Signed to Barca B initially, it's unlikely to be too long before we see him at senior level.
Livewire Denis Suarez was signed from the Manchester City academy where he had plied his trade since 2011, coincidentally since City had beaten Barca to his signature.
Despite being one of the standout players in the Elite Development Squad, Manuel Pellegrini was happy to authorise Suarez's sale, a decision that B/R's Sam Tighe noted was his first big mistake as City manager:
Suarez is one hell of a reserve option, and while City fans will be delighted they recouped a fair chunk of cash in a forward-thinking transfer, this has to be seen as a bitter blow.
City's relentless pursuit of two world-class players per position—in order to ensure they do not fail on the European stage once again—has pushed their very best youngster out of the door.
it is Suarez who is seen as the natural heir to Xavi Hernandez's throne, not Sergi Roberto. With a wonderful passing range and dynamic style of play, Suarez could run Barca's midfield for years to come.
Alejandro "Alex" Grimaldo holds the record for the youngest player ever to appear for Barca B at 15 years and 349 days.
When you consider the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta have all passed through the reserve ranks, that is some accolade.
And it is one that was very well deserved.
A serious knee ligament injury, detailed by totalBarca, kept the young left-back out for a year and curtailed his astronomical rise.
It's easy to see why Barcelona rate him so highly. Very comfortable in possession of the football, his distribution is immaculate.
A typical Barca-type defender, he loves to get forward and supplement the attack, but his first duty is to defend and it's something he does with great aplomb.
A genuine prospect.
If you haven't heard of Munir El-Haddadi before, you soon will.
The youngster has been on fire throughout this season and was the top scorer in the UEFA Youth League—the U19 version of the Champions League—in which Barca were successful.
His second goal in the final from his own half (shown above) was the mark of genius.
Blessed with raw pace, power and technically brilliant, should he continue to develop at the same pace, we could well be seeing his introduction at senior level in the next 18 months or so.
A real talent.
Barca fans have known about Jean-Marie Dongou for some while now.
In his book on Barca, Sky Sports' Graham Hunter noted the Cameroonian as the best 16-year-old he had ever seen. Per Total Barca, Hunter said:
Dongou, small and Mike Tyson-powerful, is without question the most awe-inspiring player I have ever seen at his age. When I witnessed Messi at the same stage of his development, it later transpired that he was a little bit sulky at being forced to play on the wing in the game I went to watch and, consequently, I came away unimpressed.
But having watched Dongou for several months – aged both 15 and 16 – I have to warn the next couple of generations of defenders that they should start having nightmares now just to get in practice.
The youngster, still only 19, has only made three fleeting appearances for the first team whilst tearing it up for the B side.
An assassin's eye for goal, strong, quick and almost impossible to shake off the ball, Dongou is the full package.
Now is the time for him to be placed into the first-team picture on a full-time basis because he is the "nine" that Barca have been crying out for, and only experience will make him a better player.
Adama Traore is another La Masia graduate destined to be a superstar.
His blistering pace is from another level altogether and is often the catalyst for goals. Munir El-Haddadi is one who has benefited from the searing intensity that Adama provides down the right side.
As the official Barcelona website notes, he is always in amongst the goals himself.
Still just 18 years of age, Adama has already appeared briefly for the first team but continues to make a name for himself at Barca B level, where he has certainly not disgraced himself.
A strong work ethic is what sets him apart from his contemporaries, and his technical ability is quite phenomenal for one so young.
Another season in the reserve side will set him up nicely for the senior side in 12-18 months' time.
Rafinha Alcantara's immediate future could by dictated by what happens to Celta Vigo manager Luis Enrique.
"Lucho" is a being considered for the hotseat at Barca per Mundo Deportivo via Tom Conn at Inside Spanish Football:
According to the report, Enrique has informed Celta of his intention to leave the club should Barcelona come calling.
Lucho is unwilling to make any kind announcement so as not to end his season on a sour note.
Alcantara has been an integral part of the success that Celta have enjoyed, his dynamic box-to-box style winning many plaudits.
Hard but fair and a real workhorse, he will give Barca's central midfield the edge that they've been lacking. A supplementary presence in attack will also be welcomed.
One thing's for sure. Barca certainly don't want to allow him to leave in the same way as his elder brother Thiago did.
Gerard Deulofeu has been knocking on the door of Barca's first team for at least the last two years. However, there was also something missing in his game, hence very sporadic appearances.
He could beat players for fun and score goals, but not every score had to be a "golazo," and the simple ball to a team-mate would often be a far more effective outlet than a dribble into no mans land.
Loaning him to Everton has been a masterstroke. His game has developed 10-fold under Roberto Martinez, and after a year in the Premier League, we now have a player ready to challenge the likes of Pedro Rodriguez and Alexis Sanchez for a starting berth.
Per Greg O'Keefe of the Liverpool Echo, Martinez wants the youngster for another season before sending him home. It remains to be seen whether Barca will accede to that request or finally unleash Deulofeu on La Liga.