Born and brought up in Barcelona, Sergi Samper epitomises everything that La Masia stands for; he joined Barça after a trial when he was just 6 years old and has been here since, training to wear the Blaugrana with pride at the Camp Nou. While his peers struggled to make a name for themselves, Sergi put yet another foot in the right direction when he was introduced to the first team, with a debut in the Champions League against APOEL Nicosia back in September 2014. Sergi lead the passing in that match with 107 passes completed, playing alongside the Maestro Xavi.
One could draw comparisons between Sergi and the legendary midfielder with respect to how both of them are Catalans born in Barcelona and played their entire youth careers for Barça before joining the first team. That's probably all there is to it though, looking at how Xavi is arguably the greatest midfielder in the history of the sport while Samper is scratching and clawing to hold onto his spot in the squad.
Samper had been earmarked to be the next Busquets, but he failed to take any amount of pivotal minutes for development from the lanky defensive midfielder who continues to dominate and fill Barça's trophy cabinet year after year. Busquets' age doesn't help either, looking at how he could end up playing for another half-dozen years.
These obstacles lead to fan speculation that Samper's future was in the central midfield, operating a little further down the pitch, away from his natural position as a pivote. While things looked bleak, Barça's lack of any significant depth in CM gave all the fans a sense of comfort; it wasn't going to be easy, but there was still hope. Cut to 2016: Samper got promoted and signed his first team contract under the man who gave him his debut back in 2014.
Everything would have been peachy for Samper if it wasn't for the sudden influx of high profile transfers, that included the talented André Gomes and Denis Suarez; with Rafinha returning from injury, Barça are looking at a total of 8 names for 2 positions, and this is after my assumption that Sergi Roberto is exclusively going to play right-back this season.
As the search for a forward intensifies and Barça edge closer to Paco Alcácer than ever before, the speculation surrounding Samper's future in the first team is not looking positive. Expected to be a make-weight in any deal with Valencia, the time to leave the Barça fold and make a name for himself looks to have finally dawned on the small kid, who once dreamed of having the Camp Nou chant his name in ecstasy.
While there will most likely be a buy-back for any sale that includes him and Samper might even return, the obstacles that have forced his exit today will continue to remain in the future, and it looks like the midfielder's fortune, unlike Xavi, lies away from the Blaugrana, for better or worse.
It's ironic how two players can have such similar career paths on the youth level, and yet be on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the first team.
I guess that's life as a footballer.