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Barcelona might give Ronald Araújo his first start soon

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Clément Lenglet is suspended and Gerard Piqué and Samuel Umtiti have fitness issues

FC Barcelona B V RCD Espanyol B - Segunda B Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images

With Clément Lenglet definitely out through a red card against Real Betis, and Gerard Piqué and Samuel Umtiti struggling with fitness issues, the time for Ronald Araújo to make his first start for Barcelona is nearing.

The Uruguayan defender plays for Barcelona B but is the club’s de-facto fourth choice centerback after the sale of Jean-Clair Todibo in the winter transfer window.

Araújo has made his debut for the full team already, playing well as a substitute before - perhaps harshly - being sent off.

Piqué missed the last match through injury but is back in training. Meanwhile, Umtiti played against Betis but was training apart from his teammates due to a minor knee issue. All signs point to Piqué starting, but there is a chance Umtiti is not deemed fit enough to play against Getafe.

Ideally Quique Setién would probably like to avoid using Araújo against Geta, the third-placed team in the league. He’d rather blood him in slowly. He could play Sergi Roberto or Junior Firpo in defense, although calls to play Nélson Semedo may need to be withdrawn with the Portuguese also not training with the group.

Of course, the plan to bring Araújo in gradually could be scrapped, and his involvement accelerated quickly.

Regardless, Araújo will most likely have a role to play in the second half of the season. Umtiti’s struggles with injuries are well-documented, while Piqué is 33. At some point, you’d expect he’d get a shot in the team, if only to give one of the main three defenders a breather.

The 20 year old made a move from Boston River, a Uruguayan club, to Barcelona B two and a half years ago. The defender is known for his height above all, although his strength, positioning, anticipation, and passing are said to be good for his age as well.

Araújo came to be seen by former coach Ernesto Valverde as even more promising than Todibo, leading to his sale, according to rumor. It remains to be seen whether the former coach’s instinct is right, and whether he will flourish under Setién.