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Martin Braithwaite shows his importance to Barcelona... again

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The striker deserved his place

FC Barcelona v Elche CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

We've been down this road before, but it’s about time some respect was put on Martin Braithwaite’s name.

He isn’t Luis Suarez. He never was. So let’s stop with the ridiculous comparisons, and let’s get over the ‘he’s not a Barca player’ argument.

Employed to do a job, by and large he goes about his business with vigour, hunger and a will to work, and he cannot be faulted for his efforts.

His shortcomings are there to be scrutinised yes, but the fascination with wanting to compare him to one of the greatest strikers of our generation is, frankly, baffling.

Placed out on the left wing for the first 45, he huffed and puffed and didn’t really do too much of note.

FC Barcelona v Elche CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Not being played in his natural position is a little limiting though, no? As Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho et al have found out.

Look at the change in dynamic when the Dane was brought into the centre-forward position.

Two assists including that sumptuous back-heel for Leo, and the ability to keep both centre-backs quiet whilst bringing others into play.

This is far from a vintage Barca, and under normal circumstances, Braithwaite probably wouldn’t be wearing the blaugrana, but that’s no reason to consistently beat him with a stick.

Against Sevilla in both upcoming games, Ronald Koeman could do worse than stationing Braithwaite centrally. His presence there could be vital for making space that Messi can utilise.

If it doesn’t work, so be it, but what I see is a player willing to do whatever is needed for the good of the team with the minimum of fuss and the maximum effort.

That’s precisely the sort of attitude that every player in the squad should be displaying, but some more celebrated exponents - Miralem Pjanic, we are looking at you - are falling well short of.

Though the expectation amongst many fans is that the team will end up with no silverware again this season, Koeman clearly needs all of his squad to give of their best if they are going to go close in any of the competitions, and if they need something different in an attacking sense, Martin Braithwaite is precisely the right man to provide it.

If this turns out to be his final season at the club, with a new president expected to come in and overhaul things fairly significantly, at least the Dane can leave with his head held high, even though he won’t have a ringing endorsement from the supporters in his ears.