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Chumi, or not Chumi... that is the question for Barcelona

The youngster must be given opportunities

Soccer: International Champions Cup-FC Barcelona at AS Roma Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I have to admit to being a little perplexed at the news that Barca want to tie up a loan deal for Valencia’s Jeison Murillo in January.

Not because he doesn’t fit the bill - available, experienced, on loan - but because it’s going against the grain in terms of what the club profess to be once more.

There is a consistent narrative pushed out that La Masia remains one of the pillars of the club, how much it’s valued etc etc., but when given the chance to utilise it, there’s a reticence to do so. What’s happened this week is a prime example.

Clearly the Blaugranes need cover in January in central defence.

With Thomas Vermaelen out for the best part of a month and no one really knowing what’s going to happen with Samuel Umtiti, a club of Barca’s stature can’t go into the early part of the new year with just Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet as their only fit centre-backs.

Therefore, it’s a reasonable argument that going after Murillo makes sound business sense.

However, Juan Brandariz Movilla, better known as ‘Chumi,’ has been training with the first team for a while now and is ready to make the step up as needed.

He might still be a few months short of his 20th birthday, but he’s a calm enough presence in the back line and will need games to start to gain the requisite experience.

How is he supposed to do that if, when opportunities present themselves, he (and others) are overlooked?

Ernesto Valverde really does need to move away from ‘safety first’ sometimes.

“Other options in the team are Sergio Busquets or one of the full-backs. We will look for solutions if we need them,” he was quoted as saying around the time of the Sevilla game, when there were centre-back issues.

It’s not that the coach shouldn’t be considering all options of course, but what message does it continue to send out to those players at Barcelona B and the lower age groups?

Those youngsters who believe that one day they might eventually be able to emulate the likes of Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Pique et al.

The advantage Murillo has is the experience that Chumi is missing, but the latter knows the club, the style and Valverde’s way of working.

As a temporary measure - (if we’re led to believe Murillo’s loan is only until season’s end) - it makes perfect sense for Chumi to step in because there’s no adaptation period for a start.

In order for the youngster to be given that chance, however, the club need to pay more than lip service to their academy.

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