Not too long ago, Barcelona fielded a starting lineup that consisted of Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Arturo Vidal, Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, Lionel Messi, and Ivan Rakitic. The only thing common between these seven — apart from having exceptional careers, of course —, is that they all were on the wrong side of 30.
The lack of proactivity in this unit haunted Barça time and again as they tried to weave their way out of a stubborn middle block or a high-press, such as that of Bayern Munich.
Skip to several months later, the only remaining members of the initial seven are Busquets and Pique. Under the administration of Joan Laporta and the management of Xavi, these two are often surrounded by players nearly half their age.
While one can argue it is/was out of necessity, it has yielded amazing results. The team seems a lot hungrier, with players coming off the bench putting in tremendous shifts as well.
Yesterday, Barcelona completed the signing of yet another youngster — Ferran Torres. The Spaniard, who the club referred to as a ‘teen’, even though he’s 21, signed on a five-year deal from Manchester City.
With that, Barcelona can now field an incredible starting XI of only under 23 players. Hypothetically, this would see Torres (21) at striker, while Ansu Fati (19) and Ez Abde (20) cover the wings.
The likes of Alex Collado (22) and Ferran Jutgla (22) are superb reinforcements as well, while Ousmane Dembele (24) is not exactly an old man. And for what it’s worth, the club still holds Yusuf Demir (18), even though he’s probably on his way out in the coming days.
In midfield, the club is blessed with the likes of Nico Gonzalez (19) and Gavi (17), who have broken through the team this season. And of course, golden boy Pedri (19) seamlessly slots there as well.
This is not to forget Riqui Puig (22), but the Spaniard has not exactly been a regularly under any Barcelona manager so far. A consistent run of games, though, could change things for him.
The defence is a little make-shift but pretty impressive nonetheless. Oscar Mingueza (22) sits at right-back while Sergino Dest (21) fills in on the left. Ronald Araujo (22) and Eric Garcia (20) slot in at the heart of the defence. Inaki Pena (22) dons the glove for this side.