After signing for Barcelona as 19-year-old, Ronald Araujo was initially deployed with the Barcelona B team, but did not take much time before he got his break with the seniors under Ernesto Valverde.
The Uruguayan was evidently a special defender, and fans could see it when he made his debut vs Celta Vigo. At 6’4″, Araujo is built like a machine, and his defensive iq has always been beyond his years, especially in 1v1 situations.
However, the one thing that has held him back on a few occasions is his ball-playing ability. He was often dropped to the bench in favour of other players, even as recently as last season, because he was not as comfortable in possession.
His improvement, especially this season, is for all to see, though. Araujo opened up about this, as quoted by Veronica Brunati, saying:
“When I arrived at Barcelona, I touched the ball three times, and lost it all three times. It frustrated me a lot. I thought that I could become better with hard work.”
“I would stay back to train, in a square, I would control and pass, control and pass, and if we trained in the morning, I would come in the afternoon to train again alone,” Araujo further explained about he worked on his ‘weakness’.
The 23-year-old is evidently a lot more confident in himself now, too, which is evident with him attempting more courageous passes and carrying the ball into midfield every now and then.
For context, Araujo completes 3.4 long passes at a 55% success rate this season, and 2.5 chipped passes at a 50% success rate. These numbers were at 2.8 (52%) and 1.2 (43%) up until the end of last season.
While he is no Andreas Christensen and Eric Garcia, it is clear that Araujo’s training his paying off. He has cemented his spot in Barcelona’s defence alongside Jules Kounde, and boasts of a brilliant six clean sheets in eight appearances this season.