Since the days of Johan Cruyff’s implementations into Barcelona’s footballing set-up, Catalonian inhabitants have seen a new aurora of players pass through their perpetual cycle dedicated to producing new, home-grown talent. This is economical, and it also owes Barcelona a great deal of respect in itself, as they tend only to sign players from elsewhere to fill out the squad’s weak points, something seldom seen in the world of football today. The association sport is now described as being a ‘business’ by many old-fashioned fans, suffice to say that most would be in agreement with this statement. But the ‘La Masia’ crowd have almost revolutionized the beautiful game with their aptitude for spotting top-notch talent, without over indulging in their seemingly endless array of finances. Thanks to the foundations laid by Cruyff, Barcelona have gone on to become infamous for producing an incessant pool of world beaters all through their globally-renowned academy, La Masia.
La Masia (Pictured), Barcelona’s stomping ground for youngsters
Messi and co. have come through the Catalan club’s academy with more than just flying colours, and the nucleus of current Barcelona home-grown players actively participating are now considered to be part of one of the greatest football teams to have ever graced the green turf. As Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol et al begin to approach that dreaded wrong-side-of-30 stage in their careers, it is nearing the time for a new line of recruits to take to the battlefield. The new battalion look to be quite a menacing force, led by arguably Barcelona’s finest ever export since Lionel Messi. The Spanish starlet, Gerard Deulofeu.
Adept at leading the frontline from the flanks or through the middle, he holds qualities unrivalled by any other 18-year old winger in world football. The teenager comes with the usual bag of tricks for a player of his calibre. Dexterous footwork coinciding with pace in abundance. A penetrating pass is then topped off with decisive finishing. Deulofeu is certainly La Liga’s most prevalent emerging star, and he has already had a little taste of what’s on offer at Camp Nou thanks to 2 short-lived appearances for Vilanova’s men. If Deulofeu were to have one evident fault, it would be his attitude towards his game and his peers.
Arrogance is regularly a part of a hyped-up younger player’s game. As the media are rife with speculation regarding a player’s future or ability, in Deulofeu’s case, it would be difficult to not get slightly big-headed. There is nothing wrong with a minute quantity of arrogance in a player, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar typify this. As long as it doesn’t stand in the way of the player’s actual ability, Quaresma and Nani per se, it should not be too big an issue. Reports suggest Deulofeu is an arrogant individual, but the people inside Barcelona don’t see this as being too much of a conundrum for the boy-wonder, as he has the ability and desire to back it up.
Up until his senior debut for Barca, Deulofeu had dominated domestically and internationally, for Barca and Spain’s youth sides respectively, with aplomb. He came to international prominence after playing a vital role in Spain U-19’s road to winning the European Championships in the summer of 2012, scoring twice in a tense semi-final clash with France, before assisting Real Madrid Castilla star Jese in a rather sumptuous style for the only goal of the final. He was awarded ‘Golden Player’ of the U-19 Championships after a stellar 5 outings for his country. 12 goals in 17 appearances is the Spanish Segunda have made the tricky winger’s seniors well-aware of his prowess in front of goal, and he is due another call-up in the not-so-distant-future.
Earlier in the 2012/2013 campaign, Deulofeu managed a sublime assist for Barcelona B team mate Cristian Lobato, which shot him to online fame for a couple of days after the event took place. You can watch it here. The opposing players must have been left red-faced.
Deulofeu is being tipped for global stardom by many of Barcelona’s staff and other admirers, some even going as far to call him the next Lionel Messi. It will be quite a feat may he emulate the majestic Argentine in any way, shape or form over the course of his promising career. He has not become anywhere near a household name as of yet, but if he keeps on keeping on, the next decade of his career should be a particularly fructiferous one for the diminutive, pace-laden Spaniard.