El Centrocampista

WHO IS ISAAC CUENCA? – Charting a meteoric rise for Barcelona’s new wonderkid

The La Masia conveyor-belt at FC Barcelona seems to produce an endless stream of talent for Pep Guardiola’s side, with Isaac Cuenca it’s latest product.

The 20-year-old anounced his arrival with a second-half strike against Mallorca last weekend, four days after making a La Liga debut at Granada.

It’s been a meteoric rise for a player who has almost gone under the radar of La Liga watchers while fellow youngsters, such as Thiago Alcantara have stolen the headlines.

The arrival of a new boy-wonder at the Camp Nou is nothing new of course – we have witnessed many of the current first-team make the same impact over the past ten years, but Cuenca’s story is slightly different.

Joan Isaac Cuenca López was born in Reus on 27 April 1991 and first came to the attention of Barcelona’s famed youth system at the end of the 1990’s when he was playing local, small-sided games.

He subsequently had a brief spell at RCD Espanyol before his ability sufficiently impressed the onlooking Barça staff and he was invited to their youth development centre at La Masia in 2003.

Cuenca remained at the complex for just over two years until he was allowed to leave and returned to play for his local side, CF Reus Deportiu.

It’s of great credit to the youngster that he overcame this apparrent setback and continued his footballing education closer to home.

He did returned to Barcelona however, after a year at another local club CF Damm, before again moving on – this time to CE Sabadell on a season-long loan.

The young winger had seemingly received a second rejection from his boyhood heroes.

However, Cuenca spent a productive 2010/11 campaign at the Segunda B club and helped them win promotion to the second tier of Spanish football with four goals in 32 games at Nova Creu Alta.

His form at Sabadell led to a recall and he became an integral part of Barça B’s preperation for the upcoming season in the Segunda division -he also travelled to the US for the club’s pre-season tour.

Cuenca came off the bench to make a scoring league-debut as the B side enjoyed a 4-0 win at Cartegena in September, before going on to score another goal in two starts for the second string.

Shortly afterwards, Pep Guardiola came calling.

He first taste of senior action came against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League and, although only managing to touch the ball once in a cameo appearance with minutes remaining, he had made his mark.

Cuenca made his first La Liga start last week as he played a full 90 minutes in the 1-0 victory at Granada, and went on to grab his first senior Barça goal in the 5-0 thumping of Mallorca on Saturday.

The meteoric rise was complete.

Guardiola is now sure to wrap his latest protege in cotton wool and don’t be surprised if he is used sparingly for the rest of the season, but the coach is a master at developing and protecting his young starlets and you can be sure that Isaac Cuenca is a name you will hear much more of in the future.

Nobody saw that one coming.

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  1. Pingback: Arsenal looking ar Tello and Cuenca | elcentrocampista.com

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