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FC Barcelona 2011/12 Season in Review: Ibrahim Afellay, Jonathan Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Deulofeu, Rafinha, Marti Riverola

Both players in the picture appear to have a bright future.
Both players in the picture appear to have a bright future.

Ibrahim Afellay

Report: Ibrahim Afellay was poised to improve on what was an encouraging five month spell with Barcelona in the 2010/11 season. But soon after he recovered from a thigh injury he picked up early in the pre-season he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in training, ruling him out for at least six months. In the end the recovery process lasted nearly a month longer but in April Afellay was finally ready to rejoin his teammates on the pitch.

Afellay only managed to make five appearances in the lost season but just the fact that he recovered fully from the serious injury was positive news. The Dutchman was able to continue to make strides on the pitch with his national team in the EURO 2012 but he couldn't help his team to advance from the Group Stage.

2012/13 Outlook: There was, and still is, a lot of speculations if Afellay is still in Barcelona's plans but at this moment it appears Afellay will remain in Barcelona at least until January. Afellay will have to make his presence felt in the time he spends on the pitch if he wants to wear Blaugrana colors for the entire season.

Jonathan Dos Santos

Report: Jonathan Dos Santos again played mostly for Barcelona B in the Segunda División last season but got several opportunities to impress with the first team. Playing as the central midfielder as well as the holding midfielder Dos Santos appeared in eight games (in three competitions) managed by Pep Guardiola and there were reasons to feel optimistic about the young Mexican.

In limited action he was able to demonstrate his accurate passing - he finished the season with a pass success rate of over 91.5%, though one has to say that was a small sample size and it will be interesting to see if JDS can complete this many passes over a full Primera División season. Dos Santos' defense is also very solid but he wasn't yet able to show his offensive abilities on the big stage.

2012/13 Outlook: Dos Santos was after the season had ended promoted to the first team where he appears to be staying for the entire season. Sevilla is still interested to secure a loan deal for the youngster but unless Barcelona strike a deal for reinforcements at the defensive midfielder position I don't expect that deal to materialize. If Dos Santos ends up staying he won't get plenty of minutes but he won't be cemented to the bench either because his versatility would get him (mostly) substitute appearances all over the midfield.

Sergi Roberto

Report: Sergi Roberto is a player I can't help but to have high hopes for. The entire season, both in the first team and B team, he looked extremely comfortable with the ball and when he has the ball he knows exactly what to do with it. He possesses the passing accuracy and vision to complete every pass he desires.

Roberto also has an uncanny touch to put the ball into the back of the net. In just four first team appearances he scored two goals and also assisted on another. The goal he scored against BATE Borisov in the UEFA Champions League was his first ever for the senior team - and quite possibly the first of many.

Fc Barcelona vs Bate Borisov 4-0 All Goals & Highlights (via xDinho10)

2012/13 Outlook: Sergi Roberto will remain with the Barça B team but judging by the long look he got in the pre-season friendlies he is on Tito Vilanova's radar. Roberto should get several appearances with the first team again and should also train regularly with the "big boys".

Gerard Deulofeu

Report: One of Barcelona's highest rated prospects made his first team debut against BATE Borisov in the Champions League and overall made two appearances for Barcelona. Spending less than an hour on the pitch in those two game he didn't have a chance to make much of an impact but he did impress with his work rate and dribbling.

This was also Deulofeu's first season with the B team and he immediately became one of the team's most used players scoring nine goals along the way. Deulofeu's potential was again on display in the 2012 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship where he was one of the best players of the tournament. He was even rumoured to be chosen as the best player of the competition but official confirmation is still pending.

Gerard Deulofeu│Bate Borisov (via GerardDeulofeuFCB)

2012/13 Outlook: Despite his immense skill-set Deulofeu is still a work in progress and he especially has to work on his decision making. The 18-year old will remain with the B team but will be getting called up to train with the first team on an occasional basis. Depending on his performances I wouldn't bet against him taking playing time from Cristian Tello and Isaac Cuenca toward the end of the season.


Report: Thiago's younger brother, Rafinha, only got two chances to impress the Blaugrana faithful but he did show why youth coaches are so high on him - some even say he could be better than Thiago which even if Thiago doesn't improve one bit won't be an easy task.

Playing at three positions, central midfielder, attacking midfielder and false No. 9, Rafinha has versatility that is highly touted among coaches and the talent to succeed at all three, though his attacking talents should push him further up the pitch. In his limited first team action he was able to showcase his passing and also fired a couple shots on net but he ended the season without scoring or assisting on any senior goals.

2012/13 Outlook: Rafinha will also remain in the B team but should get called up to the first team for the occasional training led by Tito. How many appearances he will get remains to be seen but unless something unforeseen happens he shouldn't appear in more than five games.

Martí Riverola

Report: Martí Riverola, the longtime Barcelona member (since he was six years old), made his first team debut against BATE Borisov. Riverola's best asset is his solid passing but the rest of the necessary attributes to succeed failed to develop as he and the club hoped.

Basically indispensable to the B team Martí had a good season - which earned him the first team debut in the first place.

2012/13 Outlook: Barça tried hard to keep Riverola for two more seasons (mostly for the B team) but the 21-year old decided to look for first team football elsewhere. He got a good offer from Italy and signed a four year contract for Serie A side Bologna. Good luck Martí.