Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez began the season with five solid midfield options contesting for three spots in the starting lineup.
Just over a month into the campaign, he has already lost the services of Pedri and Frenkie de Jong and has only Ilkay Gundogan, Oriol Romeu, and Gavi as top-quality options.
The series of injuries, however, has opened the doors for some of the fringe players to enter the equation. Sergi Roberto and Fermin Lopez would appear to be the two primary beneficiaries of the same.
Xavi has his order of preference
According to Toni Juanmarti, Fermin Lopez is ahead of Sergi Roberto in the pecking order in the rotation and is seen as the fifth-choice interior midfielder after Pedri, de Jong, Gavi, and Gundogan.
The Barcelona manager has high hopes for the La Masia starlet who has made the most of his minutes so far this season.
The 20-year-old travelled with the Blaugrana on the tour to the United States and made a strong impact under Xavi. His stocks reached an all-time high during El Clasico when he scored one goal and provided one assist in his blistering cameo.
The La Masia prodigy did not have much prominence in La Liga until last night when he came on for the final 30 minutes against Mallorca.
His contribution was important for the team, as he netted the all-important equaliser on the night.
Lopez has impressed the manager with his level and has a good chance of starting Barcelona’s game against Sevilla later this week, the journalist adds.
Roberto is off the radar
Despite being the first captain of the first team, Sergi Roberto has had no significant role under Xavi Hernandez this season.
The Spaniard is indeed a versatile option, but faces competition with technically superior players both at right-back and in midfield.
Joao Cancelo’s arrival and integration leaves little scope for Roberto at right-back. He could see minutes in midfield given the injuries, but it is now clear that he is behind Fermin Lopez in the pecking order.