El Centrocampista

BARÇA B – The rotating door that keeps on giving

By Lee Roden

Following FC Barcelona B is a rewarding, albeit frustrating process. Every year, the players you loved from the season before are often either promoted to the first team or, if it becomes apparent that they will never make this step, sold on to another club.

This is the purpose of the B team in a sense; to either promote those players ready to become the Xavi, Iniesta, or Pique of tomorrow, or, as is more often the case, to weed out those who are probably not going to make it at Barça’s level. That is not to say that those who do not make it to the Barça “A team” (try not to imagine Messi as B.A Baracus when you read that last line) are bad players, but rather, that they are not outstanding players. This reflects just how big the gap between F.C Barcelona and everyone else is becoming.

A perfect example of this is Jonathan Soriano. An Espanyol youth product, Soriano is something of a late bloomer, having joined F.C Barcelona on a free transfer in 2009 at the ripe old age of 23. Soriano’s quality is evident; he went on to win the Pichichi of La Segunda last season, scoring 32 goals along the way. It is becoming increasingly obvious however, that Jonathan will not make it in the Barcelona first team. This summer, rumours are flying around on a daily basis that the player is considering his options elsewhere.  Soriano certainly has the quality to succeed in La Primera, whether he has the quality to succeed at Barça however is another question. Most of the recent La Masia graduates who have went on to be successful have done so at a relatively young age and, at 25, Soriano is no longer young by Barça B standards.

Yet let’s not forget, the opposite also applied. Much like myself, many people were calling Bojan Krkic “the Spanish Messi” in his first season with the Barça first team. It was certain that he would succeed and become a star within a few years, or at least it seemed that way. Some things do not always come to pass as we expect however, football is indeed a funny game.

Returning to Barça B, if Soriano does move on (as I believe he will) the team will lose the focal point of their attack, a star player, and an emerging icon in La Segunda. The impact of this is not to be underestimated, especially when coupled with other prolific exits this year like Victor Vazquez and Nolito. The latter in particular is a player I was certain would shine in the main team, but the trajectory of players from Barça B is rarely straightforward.

All is not grim at the Mini Estadi however. Barça B has already made something of a star signing this year (if such a thing is possible) in bringing in Kiko Femenia from Hercules. The strategy here seems to be to give the player experience playing in the Barça system (the B team play in a very similar style to the first team) before eventually promoting him to the first team. He also brings first division quality to a second division team that is losing key players.

Indeed, new Barça B coach Eusebio Sacristan has confirmed that the club is “working to bring in a forward”. He elaborated that “we are looking for someone young who has the possibility to move up to the first team in the future.” and that it would be someone “with more experience in the division”. Whilst La Masia graduates are undoubtedly the players most likely to gain promotion from the B team to the first team, Sacristan’s strategy is in line with that of his predecessors; to reinforce the team with quality capable of maintaining their position at the highest level.

Due to the rules of the Spanish league structure, FC Barcelona B’s highest level is La Segunda (indeed, had the club not been an entity of F.C Barcelona, they could have potentially gained promotion this season). In not only staying in La Segunda, but also trying to maintain an upper half finish each year, future FC Barcelona first team players are given vital experience at a competitive level not matched by the youth teams of most other clubs. Players like Jonathan Soriano provide a service to these players in some ways, painting a rather dismal picture for their own careers in the process. Soriano has been adamant in the past that he wishes to player for the first team, but as his dream appears to be crumbling around him, we can’t help but feel sorry for a player that has given us some great Segunda moments this season.

If Soriano does move on, fans of not only the B team, but also the first team of F.C Barcelona should thank him for his service. Here’s a reminder of the qualities of a player who, in an unusual way, is something of an F.C Barcelona legend:


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