La Masia Spotlight: Sergi Roberto, Perhaps the Next Iniesta

Tre' Atkinson@@TreAtkinsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2013

MALAGA, SPAIN - MAY 21:  Sergi Roberto of Barcelona runs with the ball during the La Liga match between Malaga and Barcelona at La Rosaleda Stadium on May 21, 2011 in Malaga, Spain. Barcelona won 3-1.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Sergi Roberto joined La Masia when he was 14 years old. The Catalan born midfielder has been a staple of every age group he has been a part of since.

Roberto shows much promise and Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova sees him as a very important player for the future (via Goal).

The young midfielder currently hones his abilities with the Barcelona B team but receives regular call-ups for the first team. He is an important player for the B team and his role will only grow more important with age.

Currently, Roberto is recovering from a hamstring injury that he picked up early this month (via Goal). The injury has ruled him out for a few weeks, but is not expected to stunt his progression.

Style of Play

Accurately describing the playing style of Roberto is difficult. The 20-year-old is certainly a Tiki-Taka product as he fits beautifully into the Barcelona system.

But in reference to current players, Roberto can be best compared to Andres Iniesta.

Just like Barcelona’s veteran star, Roberto keeps possession very well and is accustomed to dribbling out of danger. He links up the midfield well and is a leader in distributing the ball.

However, there are some major differences in the two players.

Roberto is more of a facilitator than Iniesta, which has drawn mild comparisons to that of Xavi. Roberto is also not as attack-minded as Andres Iniesta as he normally opts to help teammates score.

It is the movement and dribbling ability of Roberto that brings the most comparisons to Iniesta. His ability to keep the ball in tight spaces is phenomenal, and when running at goal, Roberto often takes several defenders with him.

The comparison is certainly an honor to give to Roberto. He has a long way to go and a unique way of playing his position.

Future at Barcelona

Many fans are wondering what type of future Roberto has with the Catalan giants. The simple answer is that his future looks very bright.

While Thiago is seen as Barelona’s next Xavi, Roberto will more than likely be called on to eventually replace Iniesta in the midfield.

Vilanova recently stated, "It's good to know that Barca have a player [Sergi Roberto] for the long term."

It is apparent that those in charge at Barcelona are planning on Roberto playing a major role in years to come. At 20 years of age, fans could possibly even see the youngster promoted at the start of next season.

Roberto still has a very long way to go in his progression.

He still tends to give the ball away and sometimes loses track of defenders that are around him. His maturity and calmness will both need to improve, but fans should plan on Roberto making an impact in the seasons to come.

Young Roberto will most likely become a backup for the next few seasons, but a starting role looks destined to happen for the Catalan.

How do you see the future of Sergi Roberto playing out? Could he be the next Iniesta? Don't forget to leave your thoughts and comments below.

Tre' Atkinson, The Catalan Blood of Bleacher Report. 

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