A look at young La Masía talent Nico González. In this article, we take a look at what the bright midfielder can offer to Barcelona.
There are some players that catch your eye immediately when you watch them, and then some which you will like after watching a few matches of theirs. And after that, with each match, your admiration for them will just grow and grow. The reason they don’t stand out immediately is that they do a bit of everything and do everything effectively. This is the case with Nicolas González, commonly called Nico, of Barcelona’s Juvenil A.
Carrying on the legacy
Footballing excellence runs in Nico’s blood. Son of Deportivo La Coruña legend, Fran, Nico González is a 17-year-old midfielder currently playing at La Masía at the Juvenil A level for Barcelona. In this article, we will take a look at just what makes him a highly-touted youngster.
Born at A Coruña on 3 January 2002, Nico started off at Montañeros. He always played with kids older than him. He was snatched up by Barcelona two years later. Since then, he has played very well at every level, drawing a lot of attention because of his elegance, vision, technique, and talent.
A midfield maestro
One of Nico’s strongest assets is how he contributes to Barcelona from any position in midfield. He played as a defensive midfielder last season where he gave more freedom to Ilaix Moriba, as a central midfielder throughout his career and as more of an attacking midfielder this year.
As a defensive midfielder at Barcelona, Nico González has resembled Man City’s Rodri Hernández more than Barcelona’s own Sergio Busquets. He is a tempo-controlling player in this situation, too. However, he is quite mobile and surprisingly agile for his height. This aspect of his play allows him to make the kind of dribbles we see from Frenkie de Jong, helping the team progress.
Nico’s style of play as a defensive midfielder at Barcelona is also quite direct. He will always try to break the lines and drive forward. More of a modern pivot, but he can do the basics such as intercepting and pressing very well, too. He is a great reader of the game as expected from a La Masía midfielder, which means most times he is in the right position to make an interception. And in the case he isn’t, he is great at pressing, which contains the opposition very well, allowing Barcelona to regroup.
Now, analysing his play as a central midfielder, there are some aspects of his play that he alters to make the most of his ability. Most noticeably, throughout his La Masía career Nico González will look to drive forward more. To do this, he uses a number of skills he has learned by watching Barça’s greats.
Nico González oozes class | Photo by FC Barcelona
Like Busquets, he will move into space with or without the ball. But the aspect most similar is his disguised passing. He will shift his balance as to pass towards his wingers, which will trigger the opposition players who try and intercept. As they switch lanes, Nico will play a direct pass to his teammates through the centre, just like Busquets.
There are situations in which the ball will be coming towards González with players already closing in on him. This situation is actually seen a lot in professional football, for which Nico is well prepared. As the ball approached, he will shift his balance forward which makes the opposition assume he is moving towards it. His markers instinctively try to close in, when the young Spaniard will let the ball run along his body, catching the opposition off-balance and allowing him to move into space.
As an attacking midfielder, Nico González is more of a creative player in his current Barcelona Juvenil side. He possesses a lot of agility which he rarely showcases when not playing as an attacking mid. Still, his quick feet and step-overs are very effective in driving forward as well as when in tight spaces. It’s surprising to see a player of his height have great balance and agility, and incredible elegance. His through balls are a work of art, perfectly weighted and into the path of the runner. Even as an attacking midfielder, Nico González is a gem at La Masía.
What does the future hold for Nico González?
Though the previously mentioned abilities of the young Galician are mostly for very specific scenarios, what makes them important is that they show his quick thinking, and that is the major part of football: thinking and deciding quickly and well. Nevertheless, they also showcase Nico’s technical ability as well. It’s thanks to this technique that Nico González has managed to progress so steadily at Barcelona.
This term, Nico González has been a core player of Barcelona’s Juvenil A side. Nonetheless, he might make occasional appearances for Barça B. If he does well at that level, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him and Ilaix Moriba getting a chance in the first team for preseason after the next campaign.
All these abilities of the young Barcelona player allow him to be an extremely talented player. People who know him personally say he is down to earth, talented and a kind person and also very smart. These abilities of his are impressive and very useful for a footballer, too. All of this does not guarantee that he will be a first-team member. What it shows is that he does have that potential and, if given the proper opportunities, he could very well be a great player.
Barcelona B vs Valladolid Promesas: Match preview – First step towards promotion
Everything you need to know ahead of the match between Barcelona B and Valladolid Promeses at Malaga
As Barcelona B face Valladolid Promesas at Estadi Ciudad de Malaga, we take a look at the very crucial match-up in this match preview.
Date and kick-off time: Sunday 19 July 2020, 20:00 CET
Stadium: Estadio Ciudad de Málaga
Competition: Segunda División B play-offs for promotion to Segunda, first round
For a team like Barcelona, for whom youth development is one of the core philosophies, the Barcelona B team’s results are highly important as well. After getting relegated to Segunda B, Barcelona B started another quest to get promotion to the Segunda division. After a hard-fought season at Segunda B, the B team under the superb guidance of García Pimienta, has reached the playoffs. These playoffs are the stepping stones towards the Segunda. This is a very important match for the Blaugrana youngsters as they face Valladolid’s B team, the Valladolid Promesas and in this preview, we’ll take a look at this match-up.
Due to the unfortunate pandemic this year, the playoffs have had a few changes made to them. The qualifying criteria are still the same. The top four teams of each B league are drawn into the playoffs. From here, the usual final between the two winners to decide the overall Segunda B winners was removed. Instead, the losing semi-finalists will enter the play-off round for the remaining two promotion spots.
The four group runners-up will be drawn against one of the three fourth-placed teams outside their group. Whereas the four third-placed teams will be drawn against each other in a single game matchup. The six winners will advance along with the two losing semi-finalists to determine the four teams that play for the last two promotion spots.
Basically, the Barcelona B team will need to do their best in the next three rounds to gain promotion.
For Barcelona B, this match-up has gotten tougher than expected. Firstly, Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig and Ronald Araújo won’t be allowed to play in the playoffs. Barcelona coach Quique Setién clarified this in a recent press conference.
Barça B will have many key absences in the playoffs | Photo by Aflosport via Imago
The fact that some of the strongest players that Barcelona B had throughout the season along with Ansu Fati, who made the jump to the first team from Juvenil A, won’t be present to help them win promotion is a major setback. Along with this, Álex Collado won’t be able to play as he recently suffered an injury. For Valladoid, this is a major advantage. The reason for their absence was specified so as to not avoid any complications in the Champions League.
“I would have liked the circumstances to be different, I’m sorry but it will not be possible for them to play with the B team”
Players such as Kike Saverio, Guillem Jaime, Chumi, and Hiroki Abe who were important parts of the team won’t be able to play as well due to their contracts not being renewed. This should mean that we see a lot of Juvenil A players get a chance to play. Especially since 9 of them have been announced in the squad.
The silver lining
Many people are of the opinion that since getting promotion to Segunda would mean that our La Masía players get more playtime at a better level next season. This is a very valid argument. The fact that Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig, and Ronald Araújo have still been restricted from going for the play-offs is quite controversial. But there is a silver lining.
With their absence and the many expired contracts, we see that 9 Juvenil A keepers have been called up. These players will get an opportunity to play for the B team in an important match, which will definitely help them as they rarely get to play at a match this important. Players such as Monchu, Ilaix, Jandro will get to prove that they are capable of filling up the massive personalities that Puig and Collado provided. It’s a good chance for them to display their abilities. For players like Konrad, Peque, Nico it’s a good chance to show that regardless of the result, the B team will be in safe hands next season.
And if they do get promoted, it would be a major boost for all the La Masia graduates looking at their seniors and looking up at the players who made it into the first team from La Masia. The players at Barcelona B would next season have an excellent opportunity to develop in the Segunda against the more experienced teams.
Winning this match would of course be an achievement for Pimienta. But if he were to win the playoffs in such difficult circumstances, Pimienta’s status as an excellent manager and a youth-development expert would only be solidified even more. This should make him a real contender, and not a plan B, in case Setien has to leave Barcelona in the near future. Pimienta definitely deserves it and this would be a great opportunity for him to show that he is ready.
Barcelona B face a very challenging match-up now. It certainly is a daunting challenge. Even though they don’t have the services of many of their players, they still have their greatest weapon in Garcia Pimienta. He is more capable than almost anyone to lead this group of youngsters with whom he has worked closely for such a long time.
Pimi, along with his players are a capable team. This match however, is much more than just a win-lose moment. Winning this match would signify that another generation of promising players such as Alena, Puig, Miranda, Oriol is coming through. Not only this, but it would provide the juniors, especially the Juvenil A and Juvenil B with hope that there is a way to get close to the first team and that the Barcelona B team is still a capable force that they should strive towards aiming for. The match against Valladolid Promeses is important not just for Barcelona B but for La Masia itself.