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Getting To Know: Isaac Cuenca

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Full name: Juan Isaac Cuenca López
Squad No: 23
Position: Winger
Date of birth: 27 April 1991
Place of birth: Reus, Spain
Height: 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight: 74 kg (163 lbs)

Isaac Cuenca was born in Reus, Tarragona, 120 km (75 miles) southwest of Barcelona. He made his first footballing steps for UE Barri Santes Creus, a local club know for developing young players. In 2001 Cuenca joined RCD Espanyol's youth academy where he honed his skills for two years after which he joined the youth ranks of FC Barcelona.

There Cuenca played in the important trequartista role in the 3-4-3 formation that was in use at the time in the youth levels. Cuenca's superior technique was evident even at such young age, but he struggled physically. He was very short and skinny for his age, and even at a club that doesn't pay much attention to physicality it caused problems. The youth teams then changed formations twice in a short period, first to 4-2-3-1 and then to 4-3-3, and Isaac found himself on the bench more often.

Frustrated by the lack of playing time Cuenca decided to leave Barcelona and join local team CF Reus Deportiu. There he shined once again and aged just 16 made his first team debut in the Tercera División. Reus offered him a contract, but Cuenca felt that after three and a half seasons back in his hometown it was time to find a new challenge. So he joined CF Damm, one of the best youth teams in Catalonia. There he would stay for only one season as both Barcelona and Espanyol tried to sign him. Cuenca agreed to the terms offered by Espanyol, but a mistake in the contract allowed Barça to sign him.

Back in Barcelona, with the Juvenil A team, Cuenca was reunited with some of his teammates from his previous stint in La Masia. Isaac was mostly positioned on the left wing and he quickly became a key player, helping the team win the league. The next season Cuenca was promoted to the Barcelona B team, but with too many wingers already available to then B team manager Luis Enrique, Isaac was loaned to Sabadell CF. There Cuenca immediately impressed and was vital to Sabadell's promotion to the Segunda División. In 32 games for the Catalan club Cuenca scored four goals, but more importantly was a creative force that opposing teams struggled to stop.

When the season ended Cuenca once again returned to Barcelona and was penciled in as a starter for the Barcelona B team. But because Pep Guardiola was having selection headaches as many of his players struggled with injures, Cuenca was called up after just six games for the B team, during which he scored twice and added two assists. Isaac made his first team debut in the dying minutes of the UEFA Champions League Group Stage match against FC Viktoria Plzeň when he replaced David Villa. Since then Cuenca has made 20 appearances, scored four goals and assisted on five.

So far Cuenca hasn't made a name for himself on the international stage as he has only made two appearances for the Spain U-21 team and one for the Catalan national team. He is still waiting for his first international goal.

Isaac Cuenca is a speedy player that is equally comfortable on the right and on the left side. If necessary he can also fill in as a false nine or even in the midfield. Cuenca is very patient with the ball and while there were doubts about his decision making in the past he has certainly left that behind. He has various dribbling moves that allow him to get past his marker and he can cross the ball from either wing with pinpoint precision. Cuenca also possesses an accurate shot and can distribute the ball with good accuracy.

FC Barcelona

  • FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2011

On 31 January 2012 Isaac Cuenca signed a new contract that will keep him at the Camp Nou until the end of the 2014/15 season.

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