LaLiga Santander: Barcelona’s impossible mission: To find a forward from La Masia
LaLiga Santander Munir is the latest failure
For two consecutive LaLiga Santander games, Munir El Haddadi has not been included in Ernesto Valverde‘s squad and he is the latest in a line of La Masia forwards who have failed to make the grade at Barcelona.
The Spanish-Moroccan, the only natural replacement in the side to Luis Suarez, had been called up in all of the competitive games until Barcelona played Celta Vigo, when he was left out through a coaching decision, a situation that repeated itself against Getafe.
Those decisions were perhaps a response to the will of the player as he is set to run down his contract and leave the club on a free in the summer.
The coach, whose future is not clear, prefers to select players who have a future at the club and Munir will not play unless it is absolutely necessary.
If his departure is soon confirmed, Munir, who moved ahead of Paco Alcacer in the pecking order last summer and has two goals so far this year, will swell the list of homegrown forwards who have failed to make a mark in the Barcelona first team.
He first reached the first team in 2014 but was sent out on loan to Valencia and Alaves before coming back to the Camp Nou, though he has been unable to make his dream of becoming a success with the Blaugrana a reality.
Recent history shows that there are seven similar players who have had the chance to follow in Lionel Messi‘s footsteps but have ended up leaving the club for a low price or on a free transfer.
We take a closer look at them…
Undoubtedly one of the hardest examples to digest.
Bojan burst onto the scene and showed great form at the end of the Frank Rijkaard era, scoring 10 goals as a youngster.
He was the top scorer at La Masia and the Catalan of Serbian origin was given further chances with the arrival of Pep Guardiola, but found himself participating less and less over time.
Contractually, he found stability with Stoke City but due to a lack of regular game time, he has twice departed on loan to Mainz and Alaves.
He began the season at Stoke but another exit in the January transfer window cannot be ruled out.
From the same period as Bojan, Dos Santos also reached the first team under Rijkaard.
However, unlike Bojan, the club didn’t have the same faith in him and moved him on to Tottenham, where he struggled to make a mark.
The fall of Cuenca was a painful one after the meniscus injury he suffered was poorly dealt with between 2012 and 2013.
Then came the physical problems, a disappointing loan spell at Ajax and he was released in 2014.
Since then, he has played at Deportivo La Coruna, Bursaspor, Granada and Hapoel Be’er Sheva.
Back in Spain, he tried to join Reus but was unable to do so due to the club’s dire financial situation.
He is still a free agent.
The Sabadell native could not make the breakthrough at Barcelona, but he has carved out an interesting career in the world of football.
After two experiences which stood to him in good stead at Porto and Fiorentina, he is now an important player for Quique Setien at Real Betis.
His speed and eye for goal are very useful assets for the Verdiblancos.
This case is a difficult for those defending La Masia to make sense of.
He was given a place in the first team due to his tremendous talent with dribbling and goalscoring.
After a great year at Barcelona B, where he was Pichichi of the Segunda Division, Luis Enrique called him up for the first team in 2014.
However, for tactical reasons, he moved to Sevilla, where he didn’t fit in, and the following summer he joined Everton.
But for the second time at the Camp Nou, things didn’t work out and after few opportunities under Valverde, he left for Watford, firstly on loan and then permanently.
Finally, we can review the case of Sandro Ramirez.
The forward first appeared in the first team with Luis Enrique in 2014, at the same time as Munir.
He joined Malaga and put in some remarkable performances which aroused the attention of Everton, who now hold the player’s rights.
However, he was unable to become a success in the Premier League and has had two loan spells in Spain, with Sevilla last year and now with Real Sociedad.
Beyond Messi, who is the greatest player in Barcelona history, you have to go back to Pedro Rodriguez to find a forward from La Masia who has enjoyed a sustained run of success in the first team.
Guardiola took him to the first team in 2009 and until his exit in 2015, he provided some excellent performances, scoring 99 goals in 329 games.
He was a very important player, for example, in the Champions League triumph of 2011.
Only the MSN trio caused him to think about a future away from the Camp Nou as he joined Chelsea for 30 million euros.