It’s time for Xavi to reward Ez Abde with a stay at Barcelona.
The frustration will be the inability to get other forwards out the door, but maybe in the end, it’s not such a bad thing to have so much depth on the forward line.
The thing about Abde, if he stays, is that he can’t be just a squad player.
The value of the Moroccan is that he will compete to become the full-time left winger, and in the process, push his team-mates to work as hard as he is for playing time.
In a game where Xavi lamented the intensity of the opponent in a pre-season friendly, the Barcelona boss should instead learn from Mikel Arteta, and understand that the turnaround at Arsenal has been the combination of quality on the field, with increased demands for physicality and fighting spirit.
If Barcelona wants to compete with the best teams in Europe, this is the quality they will need to possess on a consistent basis.
Ez Abde is a player who has never stopped fighting from his time in the academy, through his professional career, and that’s the type of character you want on the training pitch, and on game days.
It took him only two months with Barcelona B to make his way into the first team under Ronald Koeman. It was a time when confidence was at an all-time low at the Camp Nou, with players’ faces hanging low, and existential dread hanging over the club, but Abde stood out, because he fought for every ball, and wasn’t afraid to take risks with the ball at his feet.
As the team experienced an injury crisis, Abde beat out the likes of Ilias Akhomach and Yusuf Demir. Why? Not out of technical ability, which the other two had in abundance, but because he was fearless, and wanted it more.
Here’s Abde early on.
When Xavi was hired, the team gradually got healthy, and by the winter transfer window, Ferran Torres was signed, and Ousmane Dembele’s new contract was on the horizon. This left the writing on the wall for the Moroccan, who was loaned out to Osasuna, but not before signing a new Barca contract through 2026.
Instead of sulking, Abde, for whom nothing has been given in life, took on the challenge in the city of bulls like the bull that he is, quickly becoming a fan favorite for his electrifying runs, and ability to break down defensive lines with the ball at his feet.
Now he’s back, after a very successful loan spell, and the question will be, once again, whether he can break through into the Barcelona first team.
Against Arsenal, he showed exactly why Xavi needs him.
Abde forces the turnover around midfield, with his willingness to check back and defend, and then has no hesitation running directly at William Saliba, one of Arsenal’s best defenders, and beats him to the byline, finishing it off with a calm and accurate ball across the box.
If Xavi wants to play his style of 4-3-3, there’s currently no better option for the left wing than Ez Abde.
Like Ousmane Dembele on the right side, Abde stretches the field wide, and then takes his first touch straight at the defenders, getting them off balance, and striking fear because of his pace and guts to take risks going forward.
In the goal he created against Arsenal, you could see straight away what he was going to do, and it was still unstoppable.
Ferran Torres did well scoring his goal in the game, and it’s a good thing for him that he did, because the competition in this area is going to be fierce throughout pre-season.
Ferran’s strength is his versatility, and with a run of games, he may yet show goal scoring prowess.
But Ez Abde is a specialist, and the marauding down the left flank is where he belongs
Watch this space against Real Madrid. It’s hard to see Abde starting that one, even after such an impressive performance against Arsenal, but he could be a very useful spark off the bench.
In the end, he’ll have his work cut out for himself in convincing Xavi.
But my fear is that Barca won’t be able to get enough money in return for Abde to justify a potential sale.
It’s better to keep the Moroccan around. He’s a great fit in the system, and Xavi will need players who can penetrate and create goal scoring opportunities.
But most of all, this team needs Abde’s intensity.
That’s the type of energy that champions are made of, and when you’re around it, it’s contagious.
Everyone benefits from having a guy like that around.