As summer transfer windows go, Barcelona’s was fairly chaotic as we all know, but one of the brighest moments (along with the arrival of Ousmane Dembele) was the signing of Nelson Semedo.
A right-back had been a priority for the club and a host of names were mentioned, most frequently Hector Bellerin, until Semedo finally joined in a deal worth a reported €30 million plus variables.
Of course it wasn’t quite as simple as that with Benfica subsequently revealing Barcelona will play an extra €5 million for every 50 games he plays for the club, until he renews his deal.
However, the arrival of Semedo was still exciting, here was one of Europe’s brightest young defenders, an offensively-minded full-back who looked a perfect fit for Barca.
And so it proved as Semedo started the season in fine form, his pace, skill on the ball and strength earning comparisons to Dani Alves.
He was expected to go on and cement his place at right-back but that hasn’t happened. Instead Ernesto Valverde has opted to rotate him with Sergi Roberto.
Except in recent weeks, he has stopped doing that and Semedo hasn’t featured in La Liga since the 1-1 draw with Valencia, almost a month ago.
In fact he didn’t even make the bench for the 4-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna, and as far as we know, he’s not injured, so where is he?
There were reports after the Valencia game that Valverde was not impressed with Barca’s right-flank against Valencia, as he replaced Semedo with Aleix Vidal and Ivan Rakitic for Gerard Deulofeu.
However, Semedo featured in the next match, the Copa del Rey win over Murcia, but was left out of the squad altogether for the visit of Celta Vigo in the league.
Semedo did feature against Sporting in the Champions League, but let’s face it that was a fairly meaningless match with top spot already assured.
It appears that, for at the moment at least, Valverde simply has more faith in Roberto at right-back, and it’s hard to argue as Barcelona’s defence has been superb this season with just seven goals conceded in 16 La Liga games and one in six Champions League matches.
Barca’s final game of 2017 is at the Bernabeu where the defence will be well and truly tested. At the moment it looks as though Roberto will again start, while Semedo appears to have work to do to convince Valverde he deserves a regular place.