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Amidst Uncertainty Over Lionel Messi’s Future And Financial Crisis, Barcelona’s Next-Gen Give a Lifeline to Drowning Ship
In spite of so much drama in the camp, the only thing which is working well in Barcelona's favour is the sparkling performances from the young players in the ongoing season.
Once considered amongst one of the most dominating clubs in world football, Barcelona are going through a rough period both on and off the field. A club with rich histories of winning big trophies failed to win a single one last season and the financial condition of the club is making things more difficult for the club to bounce back. Barcelona have one of the largest fan bases in the world and it’s purely because of their domination in world football in the last decade. The Catalan giants have arguably the greatest player to ever play the game in Lionel Messi but yet they failed to win the UEFA Champions League since 2015. The club has made some disastrous decisions in the past couple of seasons in terms of selling and buying players in the transfer window. Former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu turned into a villain in the eyes of the players and fans after Messi openly criticized him ahead of the season.
Things went ugly for the club when Messi sent a fax to the club stating that he went to leave. The transfer saga had some twists and turns with Messi finally deciding to stay at the club till his contract expires in 2021. The reports of Messi leaving the club after season grabbed the limelight every other day with European giants like Manchester City and Paris-Saint German trying to get his signature.
Messi was playing on his own in the past couple of seasons with some assistance from Luis Suarez but Barcelona made another blunder ahead of the season to sell the Uruguayan to rivals Atletico Madrid for around 5.5 million Euros. The transfer put several questions on Barcelona as they didn’t even sign a replacement for Suarez.
In spite of so much drama in the camp, the only thing which is working well in Barcelona’s favour is the sparkling performances from the young players in the ongoing season. The humiliating 2-8 defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League last season put a lot of toll on Messi and it reflected in his performance in the initial stage of the ongoing season but the Argentine has been back to his best and it’s the young guns who are motivating him to win some more trophies for the club which made him the G.O.A.T.
Here are the young guns of Barcelona who have managed to give a lifeline to the club.
Frenkie de Jong
The player who impressed the most this season under new manager Ronald Koeman is Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong. Barcelona signed Frenkie last season for a hefty amount of €75 million from Ajax. Despite all hype, the Dutch star failed to make a big impact in his first season and he made 42 appearances for Barcelona and managed to score just two goals and provided 4 assists. However, Frenkie was never hired to score big goals as he is known for his precise play in the midfield to connect the game with forwards but he struggled to do that last season.
In the ongoing season, Frenkie rejuvenates himself and brought his A-game to the table. The 23-year-old has been one of the most influential players on the pitch for Barcelona this season as he has been doing everything for the team for which he was signed. Frenkie has impressed everyone with his working rate in the midfield with his rock-solid performances. He has also netted five goals along with four assists in the season so far in 27 appearances. With Frenkie at his best, Barcelona have found a player who can take this team forward.
The 18-year-old has been a breath of fresh air for Barcelona with his magical performances this season. Pedri chose the game against Juventus in the UCL group stage that made his presence felt as the young Spaniard made Juan Cuadrado’s life difficult with his power-packed performance in the game. He completed 5 take-ons during his stay on the pitch.
Pedri didn’t look back after the game as he shines game after game for Barcelona and his link-up with Messi has been hailed by both fans and critics. The Messi and Pedri duo made things magical for Barcelona in the 3-2 win at Athletic Bilbao and in a 3-0 win at Valladolid this season.
The partnership has made the fans hoping for Messi to stay after his contract expires.
Pedri's got game. pic.twitter.com/I5RDCaCJ7D
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) January 7, 2021
Barcelona suffered a massive setback when Gerard Pique suffered an injury during the Atletico Madrid clash. The injury led the Spaniard to rule out of football for several months, at that moment, which was a topic of concern for Barcelona who didn’t have many experienced center backs in their teams.
21-year-old Ronald Araujo’s emergence turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Barcelona in the absence of Pique. The lanky defender shared a formidable partnership with Clement Lenglet. Arajuao has impressed many with his working rate in defense as he has been excellent in the interceptions and ball recoveries in the crucial stages of the game. He has made 14 appearances for Barcelona this season and has a passing rate success of 89 percent with a 56 percent tackle won rate.
Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati
The other two players who have made their name this season are Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati. Puig has been phenomenal for Barcelona in the limited time he has spent on pitch this season, the La Masia boy has displayed glimpses of his brilliance on a couple of occasions and it’s just a matter of time for him to settle his place in starting line-up. On the other Ansu Fati has been touted as the next big thing in world football but unfortunately, he suffered an injury to the internal meniscus of his left knee in the initial stage of the season and has been sidelined for the pitch for approximately four months. There have been reports that he will recover near the UCL clash against PSG. At just 18 years old, Ansu has already played a total of 43 games with the FC Barcelona first team, in which he has scored 13 goals and has provided three assists.
Barcelona are currently at the third spot on the La Liga points table behind arch-rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. While they will face Granada in the quarterfinals of Copa del Rey and PSG in the round of 16 of the Champions League.