Barcelona have always searched for a replacement to Dani Alves once the legendary right-back goes into retirement, and the club seems to have found it out of nowhere. La Masía prospect and young Spaniard Sergi Roberto never had any relevance in the first team since being promoted from the youth system due to his lackluster performances as a midfielder.
But then, coach Luis Enrique was forced to use Roberto as a full-back in preseason, with Alves not being in the United States and Douglas Pereira getting injured just fifteen minutes into a friendly against Chelsea. Enrique put Roberto in his place, and his choice paid off. The 23-year-old has improved tremendously with every performance as a right-back, and it looks like he could be the man of the future. The guy who discovered him will certainly agree.
Albert Benaiges, a legendary La Masía coach who worked at the club for over two decades and was responsible for nurturing talents like Xavi Hernández, Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta, was also the man that spotted Roberto's talent and mentored him all the way through his journey with the youth teams. In an interview with Catalan radio, Benaiges reflected on his years with the Blaugrana, and shared his surprise with the improvement of his former player, and even made a bold statement when comparing Roberto and Alves.
"Yes, it is surprising to see Sergi Roberto in this position. It has been a very pleasant surprise. His parents spoke to me about the position change and I was skeptical at first. But he has done a great job and right now he is better at it than Alves.
"I think he has stepped up in terms of maturity and is now at his best form. I would assume Sergi thought the central role was difficult, and wanted to explore more options and it's turned out well. I always knew he was Barça quality."
Source: Esports Cope via Diario Sport
Before you go "IS HE CRAZY???", remember that this guy helped Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta become club legends. He might know a thing or two about this whole football thing.