Meet the future of Barcelona

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There is plenty of gloom and doom at Barcelona following their abject 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich, with the approaching end of Lionel Messi’s contract and the big pandemic-induced hole in the club’s finances.

But president Josep Bartomeu believes the club has an array of young talents ready to take LaLiga by storm. He might not be around to see them fire the club to a new era of glory, however, as calls for his and the current board’s removal grow. And they most certainly will not be playing under Quique Setien after that Bayern humiliation.

Still there are glimmers of hope inside their famed La Masia academy, and NobleSports looks at the youngsters who could be shining for the Catalans in the next campaign….

Pedri

Age: 17

Position: Attacking midfielder

Barcelona bought the then 16-year-old from Las Palmas last summer before loaning him back to the club for a year. And they saw enough of him last year under Pepe Mel to want to take him back after just one campaign.

His starting position is left wing but he drifts in to take up intelligent positions more centrally. He has the close control and balance to get him out of tight spots and into space.

Mel has likened him to a young Andres Iniesta so that suggests he could play in a middle three too. Asked if he expected to have him on loan for another year Mel added: ‘If I was the Barca coach I would take him back.’

Francisco Trincao

Age: 20

Position: Forward

Signed from Braga in January and then loaned back to them. Barcelona say they are already knocking back suitors for Trincao.

They paid £28million (€31m) and he is on a deal until 2025 with a £500m buy-out clause.

He won the Under 19 Euros with Portugal and tends to play off the right wing drifting infield to use his left foot.

He is excellent at winning the ball back quickly high up the pitch, something that Barcelona having long since stopped doing effectively.

He is more an assist provider than a goal-getter and the problem might be fitting him in if Messi starts on the right where Trincao has so far performed best in his career.

Matheus Fernandes

Age: 22

Position: Midfielder

Another January deal, this time arriving from Palmeiras, Fernandes was sent out on loan to Valladolid at the start of the year. We didn’t see much of him. A hamstring problem limited his starts to two.

He played well enough against Atletico Madrid despite being picked as an attacking midfielder.

His position is the Sergio Busquets holding-midfield position but his loan spell at Valladolid and his six starts prior to that at Palmeiras suggest he will need time to fill those boots.

Another loan perhaps beckons. He will train with Barcelona and Setien’s replacement will have to decide.

When asked about him towards the end of the season Setien confused him with B-team forward Matheus Pereyra, so Fernandes clearly has some work to do to make his name.

Ansu Fati

Age: 17

Position: Striker/Winger

He won’t be 18 until October and he has already convinced everyone by scoring in the league and Champions League for Barcelona.

The big plan was to make Neymar the successor to Messi but it now looks far more likely to be Ansu.

His second season might be tougher than his first but he looks so at ease on the big stage.

Riqui Puig

Age: 20

Position: Midfielder

So much was expected of Puig in the second half of last season after Setien put his trust in him, and towards the end of the campaign he really began to live up to the hype. He was sensational against Alaves in the final game.

He gets around the field with purpose and moves the ball so quickly that Barcelona find another gear when he is on the pitch.

Ronald Araujo

Age: 21

Position: Centre-back

Played the last game of last season for the first team and then rejoined the B-team in their failed attempt to win promotion back to the second tier.

The Uruguayan has huge potential although whether he is really ready for the first team only a run in the side alongside Gerard Pique will tell us.

Replace Pique? No, that looks far too much of an ask at the moment.

Jorge Cuenca

Age: 20

Position: Centre-back

Key at the heart of Barca B’s defence last season he may be sold before he gets the chance to prove himself in the first team.

A former UEFA Youth League winner with the club it would be a shame if he never got his chance with the first team movement among Barca’s other centre-backs will be key in deciding his future.

Sergio Akieme

Age: 22

Position: Left-back

Barcelona need someone to compete with Jordi Alba and Akieme looks as good a bet as Junior Firpo. Like Cuenca he might be sold to raise funds rather than be given his head in the first-team squad.

Unless Barcelona’s coach calls on him. Has impressed with his powerful running and crossing.

Granada are in Europa League next season and might take him on loan if Barcelona don’t use him.

Monchu

Age: 20

Position: Midfielder

The third of the kids who so nearly won promotion last season with the B-team and who is now at a crossroads.

A real midfielder leader who got 10 goals last season in 29 games if he is farmed out or auctioned this summer the teams vying to take him will be top LaLiga clubs.

He has certainly outgrown the lower reaches of Spanish football. Brighton and Bournemouth have also been linked.

laix Moriba

Age: 17

Position: Midfielder

This one will not be sold or loaned. He will be the leader of the B-team’s midfield instead but there might be the occasional chance to impress in first-team training and get some minutes in the Spanish cup.

When he was just 16 Barcelona slapped a £90m (€100m) buy-out clause on him and his performance against Valladolid B in the play-offs recently was 90 minutes of reasons why they see him as the future.

He never gave the ball away and created two of Barcelona’s three goals.

Alex Collado

Age: 20

Position: Winger

Loves to cut inside from the right wing and shoot with his left. He scored five times last season with the B-team and the injury that ruled him out of the play-offs badly hit the team’s chances of promotion. He is another who won the UEFA Youth League two years ago.

Ought to get his chance eventually but being chased by a host of clubs who want to sign him for next season.

Oriol Busquets

Age: 21

Position: Midfielder

He did well out on loan at Twente last season playing in midfield and as a centre-back.

He will do pre-season with Barcelona this year and then either compete with his namesake for a place in the team next season or take another loan this time in Spain.

Celta Vigo could be his destination with Barcelona weighing up – as with almost all their young players – if they are worth more to them out on loan, sold with buy-back clauses, or vying for a place in the team.

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