BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 06: Marc Bartra of FC Barcelona jumps for a high ball during the UEFA Champions League group H match between FC Barcelona and FC BATE Borisov at Camp Nou on December 6, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. FC Barcelona won 4-0. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
For a player of Barcelona B it is hard not to be excited about what your future might bring. With role models such as Xavi, Iniesta and Messi those young players must be wondering when their shot at the first team will arrive. Therefore I've decided to take an in-depth look at the players who are most likely to fill the biggest of boots left behind from the current crop.
Let's start with the man between the sticks, Oier Olazábal. The 22 year old Spanish goal keeper has been a regular in the Barça B side after a string of impressive performances. The goalie stands at 6 foot and 2 inches giving him a commanding statue when it comes to fighting his way to collect crosses and beating away the intentions of an opposing striker. His height is his biggest asset but his quick reaction speed and good ball distribution skills has helped him retain his starting spot. Olazábal has made infrequent appearances for the first team and with his last appearance coming 2008, his focus is on pushing Barcelona B up the table and impressing Guardiola during the process.
Partnering him in the centre is Marc Muniesa. The 19 year old is a very exciting prospect in the Barcelona camp. La Masia acquired the Spaniard when he was fifteen with Chelsea rumoured to be interested in the central defender. After two years, Muniesa had developed quickly and was ready to play for the first team, making him the second youngest player to ever play for the Barça first team. The debut took a turn for the worst though when the defender showed a lack of experience and received a red card for a reckless challenge.
Nether-the-less Pep Guardiola kept faith with the newcomer and gave him a place on the bench in the Champions League final against Manchester United. After making 62 appearances for the B team Muniesa, along with his defensive partner Bartra, are set to join the first team in July of this year.
Occupying the midfield is Rafinha, another 19 year old who is perfect to play in an attacking midfielder position. Being 5ft 10in, Rafinha has blistering pace and skill, giving him an unfair advantage when it comes to beating defenders. The youngster has been associated with Barcelona since 2006 when he enrolled into the La Masia academy. Having made his B team debut in January this year, Rafinha still needs time to hone his skills. But regardless, he has already shown enough promise for many to claim he is the Iniesta of the future.
Helping to dominate the midfield is the number 8, Jonathan Dos Santos. The Mexican was spotted by a Barcelona scout when he was playing in a youth academy tournament in France. Both him and his brother, Giovani were signed to La Masia and while Giovani has moved on, Jonathan continues to play for the club that showed faith in him. Jonathan has made a small amount of first team appearances but he is well on the way to becoming a first team regular.
Maybe Barça B's biggest threat is a player who is in the verge of completing his switch to the first team, Cristian Tello. The player was born to be a winger. A low centre of gravity gives him great pace and put together with his sublime skill gives him the ability to burst past struggling full-backs. With the injuries to established stars such as David Villa and Pedro both Tello and his Barça B teammate Cuenca have been given their chance at the first team early. The players have jumped at the chance and proven they've got what it takes to wear the Barça shirt.
Last but not least we have the boss, Eusebio Sacristán. Already a Barcelona playing legend, the 47 year old Spaniard may be the most important person at the club. He gained managerial experience as assistant coach at Barcelona for five years before making the step up to head coach at Celta. In June 2010 after a series of disappointing results, Sacristán was relinquished of his role and came back home. The Spaniard has been the head coach since the start of the season and works closely with Guardiola, helping to decide who is ready for the step up.
Be prepared to witness more and more of these players as they continue to develop into the world-beaters that La Masia is known for producing.