A terrific Dallas display saw Barcelona dispatch their eternal rivals Real Madrid 3-0 in their second pre-season friendly of the USA tour.
While a very positive step forward after the tour’s opening loss to Arsenal, the Catalans cannot put too much stock in the win against Madrid, impressive as the result might be, given that it is still pre-season and there are still many details to finetune.
However, the major takeaway from their performance last night has to be the emergence of what seems to be another explosive talent from La Masia in Fermin Lopez.
Barcelona’s youth setup has always been an incredible pillar of the club’s success and when all else fails, the fundamentals laid down by Johan Cruyff and those that followed, have always managed to bring the club back on track.
And now, in times of dire financial trouble, the academy and its knack for producing top talents have once again shone a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
A Clasico debut for the ages
Replacing Pedri in the 66th minute against Real Madrid, in a crowd of over 82,000 people is no easy feat despite the fact that it was a friendly.
As a 19-year-old, the occasion could have very easily fazed Lopez, given how important any game time with the senior squad is for him at the moment.
Any opportunity he gets is vital, as he must impress to try and break into the first team dynamics of a very competitive squad for the 2023/24 season.
However, the youngster rose to the occasion with aplomb.
Picking up the ball after Sergi Roberto pressured Toni Kroos into a loss of possession, Fermin did not hesitate even for a second: lashing a left-footed shot into the top corner past Thibaut Courtois.
Running to the corner flag, kissing the crest on the shirt, the youngster immediately warmed himself to the hearts of every Barcelona fan around the world, watching intently as La Masia has seemingly produced yet another fearless talent to savor for the years to come.
So much so, that his Instagram following has rocketed from 82k, to over 330k after the game ended.
And the goal wasn’t all. A sensational assist to Ferran Torres to set up the third goal put the cherry on top of a wonderful cameo that will surely earn the 19-year-old some game time in the coming season.
The latest in a long line of La Masia talents
Almost every season, the youth academy tends to uncover a diamond in the rough who rapidly earns a soft spot in every fan’s heart.
In 2019, Ansu Fati broke through the ranks before Pedri set the world alight in 2020; and then came Gavi and Alejandro Balde in the next couple of years.
“My goal? Well, I saw the ball, I saw the target and I hit it with my soul. My family has had a hard time. I want to dedicate this goal to them.”Fermin Lopez after the 3-0 El Clasio win
“I’ve been a Culer since I was a child,” he said after the game, receiving congratulations from Xavi and the rest of the squad.
Freshening things up
Fermin will have to keep up his upward trajectory if he is to break into the first team this season.
In a midfield that consists of Gavi, Pedri, Ilkay Gundogan, and Frenkie de Jong, among others, Fermin could be the attacking-minded spark that the club have been on the hunt for.
Xavi even stated after the game: “We don’t have exceptions for players. He [Fermin Lopez] trained really well for this day. We think he can help us throughout this season.”
Following this, Xavi made a concrete statement saying Fermin will not leave on loan and will stay to help the first team out this season.
A huge win for Barcelona’s finances
Given that Barcelona have been looking for midfield reinforcements this summer but are majorly bound by their financial constraints – there is no better place to look than home.
In order to make any new signings, the club will have to offload at least two players to make space in their salary cap and fall back in line with the financial viability plan they presented to La Liga.
Fermin, on the other hand, would slot into the team seamlessly, would not command a hefty wage and would add some much-needed depth – and quality – to the Blaugrana midfield.
Now, the Catalans can look forward to enjoying a versatile midfielder with immense technical quality, wonderful weight of pass, and what seems to be a mean left foot.
“I am living a dream,” said the youngster after his superb cameo. And it’s only just getting started…