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Thiago Alcantara, Andreu Fontas and Marc Muniesa: Is there a life after FC Barcelona…B?

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The crossover preview with our dear friends over at Villarreal USA raised some very interesting questions. One of those questions focused on the promotion of FC Barcelona’s highly rated youngsters to the first team.

While Thiago Alcantara’s contract stipulates that he will be promoted to the first team ahead of the 2011/2012 campaign, the prospect of his FC Barcelona B cohorts remains unclear.

Eric Abidal’s recent surgery created an opportunity for Andreu Fontas to join the ranks of the first team until the end of the current season. One can argue that injuries and absences forced Pep Guardiola’s hand to look at the B team for solutions.

Even though Carles Puyol remains FC Barcelona’s most reliable defender, he’s on the wrong side of 30. Meanwhile, Gerard Pique, a world-class talent in his own right, graces the headlines due to his high-profile relationship with Pop Superstar Shakira.

Piquenbauer is slightly performing below his high standards and often times looks lost without his compatriot Puyol. He has yet to learn how to organize the defense like King Carles does.

FC Barcelona’s financial woes forced Pep Guardiola to sell Dmytro Chygrynskiy, a defender whom he rated very highly. However, Pep Guardiola failed to address this glaring issue by either recalling Henrique or Martin Caceres, both of who are on loan spells at rival La Liga sides.

Well, I do understand why Guardiola doesn’t trust Caceres; the Uruguay International is just reckless. The reason for ignoring Henrique however eludes me.

If I had to choose between Henrique and Gabriel Miltio, I’m in favor of the Brazilian. When Milito first joined FC Barcelona from Real Zaragoza he was nothing short of world-class. But due to a series of rather unfortunate injuries he hasn’t been the same players since (read: since 2008). It also doesn’t help that Pep Guardiola hardly, if ever, rotates his preferred first choice XI. It should’ve been Milito out on loan not Henrique, or Caceres for that matter.

Therefore, if Gerard Pique picks up an injury or suspension, the Blaugrana will be in serious trouble. And who is to blame, most likely Pep Guariola for his unwillingness to play Milito or the B team players, even against lower ranked teams.

After all, even or especially Xavi needs a break every now and then. Still, FC Barcelona’s no. 6 has played almost all fixtures in the ongoing campaign.

Now, FC Barcelona has to visit the hostile environment of the El Madrigal without their most important player; Xavi is ruled out due to suspension.

Where does that leave Thiago Alcantara – somewhere between a rock and a hard place. Will Guardiola entrust the highly rated, and much sought after youngster a much needed run in the first team? I don’t think so. The Blaugrana are entering the most crucial phase of the season, it can all be won or lost in April.

If the reports are to be believed, this will be the summer where Cesc Fabregas finally comes home. Whatever the fee might be, it will be a huge transfer, both financially and impact-wise. I reckon that if Cesc arrives in Barcelona, Thiago will leave Catalunya for good.

Javier Mascherano’s “only” direct competitor for a berth in the starting XI is Sergio Busquets, yet even a world-class defensive midfielder can’t catch a break.

The addition of Cesc would effectively all but end Thiago’s dreams of becoming a first team regular. There would be no less than three world-class midfielders ahead of him. With Cesc already being accustomed of warming the bench for Xavi and Iniesta where does that leave Thiago - in the stands of the Camp Nou?

Xavi was and remains a class act but he’ll be 32 next year; time is even catching up with him. Unless FC Barcelona wants to emulate AC Milan, where the average age of their midfield is 30+, Pep Guardiola should gradually integrate Thiago into the starting XI. He should also do the same with Marc Muniesa and Andreu Fontas, at the very least they can’t be any worse than Gabriel Milito or the departed Chygrynskyi.

One is not even a former shadow of his old self while the other was an ill-advised acquisition in the first place. Neither Fontas nor Munies carry the burden of a large transfer fee and are already accustomed with Barca’s philosophy. Chygrynskyi has played how many games for FC Barcelona, a handful at best.

Though I’m thankful and appreciative of Milito’s services for the club I’d like to see him leave FC Barcelona this summer to make room for the youngsters.

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