Spanish magazine Don Balon released its ranking of the top 100 young footballers in world football earlier this week. To be eligible for inclusion on this list players had to have been born after January 1st, 1989 (no older than 21 on Jan 1st of this year). FC Barcelona had three players make the cut, including Bojan Krkic, Marc Muniesa, and Thiago Alcantara. True to form, all three of these players are from Barca's famed La Masia academy.
Bojan Krkic plays forward and was just 17 years 19 days old when he made his initial first team appearance for Barca in September 2007. Bojan scored 10 league goals in 31 appearances during the 2007-08 season but has managed just 10 more in 54 league appearances since then. Bojan has struggled to see regular first team football this year with Lionel Messi, David Villa, Pedro, and Andres Iniesta seeing playing time in the forward positions. It's important to remember that Bojan is only 20 and is very familiar with the Barca style of play. Hopefully he can turn into a regular contributer off the bench very soon.
Marc Muniesa was just 17 years 57 days old when he made his initial first team appearance for Barca in May 2009. He has made just one appearance for the first team thus far but has been a mainstay on the Barca B team. He is a central defender who was a transfer target for Deportivo la Coruna earlier this year, although Barca were clear in that they have no intentions of selling him. Muniesa could potentially be a versatile addition to the Barca defense as he can play both central defense and fullback. Muniesa is only 18 years old and has a very bright future ahead for the blaugrana.
With Bojan going through a bit of a dry spell, midfielder Thiago Alcantara is potentially the brightest star of the young Barca players coming through the ranks. Thiago is 19 and made his first team debut in May, 2009. Thiago has five appearances this year for the first team in all competitions and has traveled with the first team to many away games both domestically and in Europe. Many fans are speculating that Thiago will one day replace legend Xavi Hernandez in the Barca midfield. While I would love to see Thiago develop into that kind of quality player, I am in no rush for Xavi to make his exit!
Who will end up being a greater player for Barca when it's all said and done, Bojan or Thiago??