Everyone laughs at Fontas...
Thanks to the La Liga players' strike over unpaid wages, the first week of La Liga and Liga Adelante fixtures have been canceled (Segunda B and Tercera Division went forward with their season openers). With no end in sight, reports on Tuesday where that the LFP and the players' association are still at an impasse, at least for now. Much of the media attention has been focused on the financial difficulties that afflict certain institutions and prevent the players from coming to an accord with them. However, that is something to be left to the unions and individual institutions to negotiate. For this discussion we will focus on the football aspects only and analyze the changes that have taken place in Barcelona B over the summer.
Luis Enrique (AS Roma)
The former Barcelona B manager has parlayed his success last year into a high-profile coaching position. And boy, it's a high-profile job indeed taking over the hot seat at AS Roma. Luis Enrique has vowed to implement the style of FC Barcelona in Serie A with his AS Roma. With this in mind, he went out and brought former Barca prodigy Bojan into the fold, hoping he can shine when he actually gets consistent playing time. Jose Angel of Sporting Gijon was plucked under the nose of Barcelona as well. Unfortunately, it's not going well so far. Friendlies have yielded mixed results. Roman emperor Francesco Totti seems to have a frosty relationship already with the new manager, and it was pretty much confirmed when Luis Enrique bolted him to the bench in their 1-0 loss to Slovan Bratislava at the Europa League play-offs. If Luis Enrique is to succeed in Rome, he needs Totti to be on board with what he's doing because as exasperating as Totti is, he is still AS Roma's best chance for success.
Nolito (SL Benfica)
As many who follow the B team remember, Nolito's star rose last year, eliciting interest from Benfica as early as November. Last May, Nolito rejected a deal from Barcelona and signed for Benefica on a Bosman when the transfer window opened. He has been one of the best bargains in Europe thus far, scoring in his first five official appearances for Benfica, equaling the record held by Eusebio. It's a shame really and Barcelona should've done more to keep him.
Oriol Romeu (Chelsea)
Oriol is another one of the endless line of midfielders Barcelona produced from their famed La Masia academy. Like many before him, he left in search of greener pastures and first team opportunities. Knowing full well he might not get a chance at the senior team because of Busquets and Mascherano, Chelsea signed him from Barcelona at a cool € 5 million (with a buyback clause). He has yet to make his official debut for Chelsea, having just come off a stint for Spain in the FIFA U20 World Cup. In time, he should be able to deputize for John Obi Mikel at the middle of the park for the Londoners or play in the middle of defense in case of emergencies.
Benja (Girona FC)
Benja was one of the players released by the B team to make way for the youngsters from the Barca Juvenil A team, who won the league and cup double last year. Benja started 12 games last year, often featuring at either wing, and scored 5 goals. He was snapped up by yet another Catalan team in Girona FC. Like most players in Spain, his season has yet to start so we'll wait until then before we pass judgement on how he's doing.
Edu Oriol and Abraham Minero (Real Zaragoza)
Edu was yet another casualty of the youngsters from Juvenil A, getting released as well. He actually played well last year, starting at right wing most of the time, scoring 6 goals. He then signed for La Liga side Real Zaragoza for three years. Nice upgrade.
As for Abraham, he became a regular at the back for Barcelona B, often at left back. He played 24 games for the B team last year.
Victor Vazquez (Club Brugge)
Vazquez has toiled with the B team for the longest time, and for a time he might have been on the verge of being promoted to the first team. Unfortunately, he was never good enough, and he decided he was tired of waiting as he went to Belgian side Club Brugge. He has appeared four times for the Belgian side, scoring two goals.
On an odd note, Club Brugge played Zulte Waregem last Sunday, and Vazquez, who was rather lethargic, was embarrassingly substituted after 31 minutes. This did not go over well with Vazquez, who got into a spat with the manager. Thankfully, it all boiled over and the two are now on good terms again. (Or so it seems).
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