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La Masia

La Masía Talents: Ángel Alarcón – Episode 24

David Bravo

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A thorough analysis of La Masía attacker Ángel Alarcón. A review of his profile, playing style and expectations for the future.


It’s not the first time, nor the last, that the golden 2004 generation from the Barcelona academy is mentioned in this series. The current Cadete A, coached by the also excellent Sergi Milà, has some delightful gems with a scary ceiling and promising future ahead. After having covered centre-back Diego Almeida, midfield maestros Pablo Páez Gavi and Aleix Garrido, and electric and skilful winger Ilias Akhomach, it’s time to discuss in the latest episode of La Masía Talents another sensational forward from the U16s: Ángel Alarcón

Profile

Born on 15 May 2004, Ángel Alarcón started playing for Vista Alegre de Castelldefels. There he already showcased glimpses of his quality, and often competed with players older than him. He even made a trial to enter the FCB Escola at a young age, but it was RCD Espanyol who recruited him in the end. At Espanyol he grew in leaps and bounds, acting as an attacker and mostly as a striker. With the Periquitos, Ángel became one of the brightest prospects in their academy, apart from their best Infantil.

Ángel Alarcón La Masía

Ángel Alarcón, an all-round forward

But Barça, who had been tracking Alarcón for some time, did not hesitate to sign him in 2018. So that summer, aged 14, the youngster switched clubs in Barcelona as he joined La Masía. He was added to arguably the most special generation from the azulgranas, the 2004 class. He began with the Cadete B, scoring his first goal as a culé in September 2018 in a 2–1 win over Sant Andreu at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. His adaptation was very smooth and, with the rest of his teammates, he was promoted to the Cadete A this season. That said, the 15-year-old has already made his debut with the Juvenil B, and also with Spain’s U–16. Journalist Albert Rogé has stated that Ángel will renew with Barcelona soon, as he will be turning 16 in May and will be able to sign his first professional contract. Furthermore, this would see him, alongside Diego Almeida, Gavi and Ilias, be promoted to the Juvenil A, without going through the Juvenil B. Four unbelievable prospects.

Playing style

Ángel Alarcón combines the power and explosiveness of a winger, with the positioning and instinct of a centre-forward. This allows him to be capable of playing anywhere in the frontline. While with Espanyol he was more of a striker, at La Masía, as well as with his national team, he has been deployed mainly as a winger.

In particular, from the left, cutting inside and always facing the opposing goal. In spite of not being the quickest nor a natural dribbler, he does have an excellent physical constitution and outstanding technique. He is thorough and very direct when carrying the ball.

Despite his versatility and not being the main reference, Ángel Alarcón has been his side’s top goalscorer for each of the past two campaigns with the blaugranas. Last term he recorded 22 goals in 26 league matches with the Cadete B, and in the present season he has 15 goals in 18 games. If we add up the other tournaments and his figures with the national team, that’s a total of 49 strikes in 60 matches in two seasons, per @ViscaBarca1233.

Ángel is a complete and very smart attacker with determination, acceleration, energy, creativity on the ball, and brilliant finishing from short and long range. With his powerful shots and the eye for goal of a number 9, he manages to find the net frequently. Off the ball he’s hard working and wise too. All in all, a flexible forward that reunites on-ball quality, intelligence, instinct and physical conditions.

What does the future hold for Ángel Alarcón?

Ángel Alarcón has all the qualities to develop into an excellent attacker in the longer term. Perhaps he may need to define himself better in order not to fall short both as a winger and as a striker when he makes the leap to professional football. Nonetheless, that is not expected to be the case, as the teenager has excelled in both roles so far. The step to the Juvenil A will be a big one for him, and he will need some adaptation as the difference from the Cadete category is not small at all. However, he is bound to adjust to it and, while he is only 15, he certainly has the talent to be an exciting footballer in the future.

As someone once said, football is the most important of the least important things in life. Football, though, is a passion lived 24 hours, 7 days a week. My life could not be understood without Barça. Having always lived in Barcelona, the deep love for this club was transmitted to me from before I can remember. With an affection that can be found in my most profound roots, my goal now is to share this admiration with other football enthusiasts.

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Analysis

Barcelona B: Changes which we can expect this season

Anurag Agate

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Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

For Barcelona, its youth setup – Barcelona B, and the famed La Masia – has often served as one of its core components, and not a subsidiary, like a lot of clubs around Europe. It has often been the first step for players before they join the first team, learning the ways and about the heritage of the club.

Currently, a part of the Segunda B, Barcelona B were in the Segunda not more than two years ago and failed to gain promotion last season after coming oh-so-close. As another season starts, Barcelona B must balance their success on the pitch and the development of youth players simultaneously. Barca Universal takes a look at the changes we can expect from them this season.

Youngblood

Barcelona B must, without compromise, involve new players from the youth teams every season as much as possible. This is best showcased by Garcia Pimienta, who uses the youth teams to bolster his squad. Similarly, there are some specific players we can expect to see this season.

Against Cornella, Cadete A player Ilias Akhomach debuted for Barca B and played an entire half. At just 16 years of age, he probably won’t get a lot of chances, but if he does, we can count on him to repay the manager. The winger who has grown meteorically through the youth ranks of the Catalan club in rapid succession looked comfortable playing against much older players in the Segunda. He’s someone who could make an impact this season.

At left-back, Barcelona has a player who has progressed immensely. Alejandro Balde has played above his age group for a long time, and his development has been incredible. At 17, he is a starter for the B team and is among the players who can definitely contest for the first-team in the future. Balde is good both defensively and offensively – his pace, dribbling combined with his tracking-tackling skills makes him a capable asset down the wing.

Apart from these two, we might see attacking midfielder Brian Pena and defensive midfielder Alex Rico. Towards the end of the season, Diego Almeida, Txus Alba, Gavi might be given their debuts as well as part of an up-and-coming generation coming through.

Formation

This is a change seen in subsidiary teams such as the B team usually when there is an adjustment in the tactics for the first team. Since the team has a new manager in Ronald Koeman, the tactics are rather fresh as well. Under Setien, a 4-3-3 formation was the preferred choice, whereas under Koeman it is a 4-2-3-1. Though Barcelona played a 4-4-2 under Valverde, the B team continued in a 4-3-3. The shift to a 4-2-3-1, however, is quite less, compared to a 4-4-2.

Koeman has brought with him a plethora of changes, the major one being the team setup. (Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)

The second team’s sole purpose is to facilitate for the first team, which remains the priority this season as well. It just so happens that the Spaniard has three remarkable players at his disposal who can play in a double-pivot and can soon step-up to the first team – Nico Gonzalez, Jandro Orellana and Oriol Busquets. Implementing a double pivot with these players would also benefit the rest of the players. Matheus Fernandes or Alex Collado could play in the number 10 role where they can excel. Additionally, there is an interesting option in the form of Brian Pena whose style resembles Philippe Coutinho’s, could get to feature for the B team in the mediapunta role.  In turn, Hiroki Abe, Ilias Akhomach, Nils Moreno, among others could play feature on the wing.

Formation changes for Barcelona B would not only help the players transition from the B team to the first team but will also improve their tactical flexibility. One of the biggest advantages of playing in a 4-2-3-1, however, leads us to our next change.

Number 9

Barcelona have produced many incredible number 9s in history as well as recently. However, there has been something about the 4-3-3 system which hasn’t suited these talents – for example, Abel Ruiz. An undisputed starter for Spain’s youth sides, he was benched by Alejandro Marquez in some instances owing to his failure to rack up goals for the B team.

Abel Ruiz failed to live up to his own prophecy. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

A very promising striker coming through is Gerard Fernandez, or Peque, as he is called. Playing a 4-2-3-1 system would bring out the best in him. As a forward who is incredible at pressing the defence, he would get that freedom in a 4-2-3-1. Another one of his strong attributes is his ability to link-up very well with his teammates. With a no. 10 behind him and a winger on either side, he would get the opportunity to further develop his anchor play.

The problem Barca B have had with the number 9 role is one that could make the difference between reaching the playoffs like last season and earning promotion to the Segunda A.

Conclusion

Barcelona B are a very dynamic team. There are always multiple changes in multiple positions due to the nature of the team. A manager focused on developing youth, Garcia Pimienta has made sure they are a very capable collective as well. With the changes we examined in this article, Barcelona B could top last season’s playoffs and finally get promotion to the Segunda A. And if not that, we can be sure that they will continue to roll out incredible players that will become Barcelona stars one day.

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