Where are they now? Barcelona’s nine youngest debutants since 1990

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Barcelona are famed for their production line at the famed La Masia – but how have their youngest debutants since 1990 gone on to fare?

The Catalan outfit have produced some of the finest players of the modern era, but not every hot prospect has fulfilled his potential.

We’ve taken a look at the nine players to make their Barcelona debut under the age of 18 in the last 30 years, starting with the oldest.

Mario Rosas

One of the most intriguing cases to come out of La Masia, Rosas was described by Xavi as “a mixture of Laudrup and Messi” in an interview with French outfit So Foot.

“If you saw how he played at 15, 16 or 17, you would say, ‘When this guy makes the first team, the Camp Nou will hallucinate,'” Xavi said.

Rosas was given his bow as a 17-year-old on the final day of the 1997-98 campaign by Louis van Gaal with Barcelona already crowned champions, but he was subbed off at half-time as Salamanca won 4-1.

That proved to be his only appearance for the club, and he subsequently played for 11 different clubs, mainly in the second tier, where his slight frame made it difficult to shine.

“When I had to leave, I could not adapt to the new demands that came my way,” he said. “I had to defend more and take on other tasks than I was used to doing at Barca.”

READ: The mystery of Mario Rosas, the man Xavi called ‘a mix of Laudrup and Messi’

Adama Traore

Traore made just four appearances in all competitions for Barcelona, scoring once in an 8-1 thrashing of Huesca in the Copa del Rey.

“I’d like to one day play in La Liga again,” Traore told Wolves’ official website. “I did have some action and I did okay. It was at Camp Nou so of course it was nice to feel the atmosphere.”

The winger left Barcelona for Aston Villa when he was still just 19, with Barcelona insisting on a buyback clause, but he was relegated in his only season at Villa Park before suffering the same fate after joining Middlesbrough.

A season in the Championship saw Traore rediscover his mojo and he is now showing his talent in the Premier League with Wolves.

Gerard Deulofeu

We often comment on how strange Deulofeu’s career has been, but it’s worth repeating: he came through the ranks at Barcelona before impressing on loan at Everton, then flopping on loan at Sevilla, opening the door for Everton to sign the winger permanently.

His return to Goodison Park did not go to plan, and he was sent out on loan to Milan, where he impressed so much that Barcelona decided to re-sign him. He once again struggled to establish himself at the Camp Nou, and so returned to the Premier League with Watford, where he remains one of the competition’s most enigmatic attackers.

“It’s difficult because at Barcelona, you always have eyes on you,” Deulofeu told The Guardian in 2018. “All the people speak. It’s good [in one way] but after, it’s bad because the people think you are Messi or a player with a lot of experience. You have to be careful because you have to go step by step.”

Oriol Riera

A 13-minute cameo against Murcia in 2003 represented Riera’s entire career in Barcelona’s senior team, and the forward has since appeared for nine other clubs, including a short spell in the Championship with Wigan.

The 33-year-old is still playing, joining second-tier outfit Fuenlabrada in the summer after a prolific two years at Western Sydney Wanderers.

Nano

The second of only two players on this list to make their debut in the 1990s, Nano made just six appearances in all competitions for Barcelona before joining Atletico Madrid.

But the majority of the defender’s career was spent in the lower reaches of Spanish football, mainly with Racing Ferrol (across two spells) and Numancia.

Lionel Messi

Never heard of him.

READ: The story of the two La Masia players better than Lionel Messi at free-kicks

Marc Muniesa

Now playing in Qatar for Al-Arabi, which sounds much more enjoyable than playing in Stoke.

Bojan Krkic

Bojan was tipped to follow in the footsteps on Messi after scoring 34 goals in his first three campaigns in the first team, having bagged 900 goals for Barcelona’s youth teams.

But the striker struggled under the weight of expectation and began to suffer with anxiety, telling The Guardian in 2018:  “In footballing terms it went well but not personally. I had to live with that and people say my career hasn’t been as expected. When I came up, it was ‘new Messi’. Well, yes, if you compare me with Messi … but what career did you expect?

“And there are lots of things that people didn’t know. I didn’t go to the [2008] European Championship because of anxiety issues but we said I was going on holiday. I was called up for Spain against France, my international debut, and it was said that I had gastroenteritis when I had an anxiety attack. But no one wants to talk about that. Football’s not interested.”

Now 29, after dropping down to the Championship with Stoke, the forward moved to MLS to join Montreal Impact in the summer, where he scored his first goal for 11 months.

“Football is my life, you know? And there have been some years, some days I didn’t enjoy,” he recently told The Athletic. “So I want to protect this feeling that I have here, this feeling that brings me here.”

Ansu Fati

Only two players on this list have scored more goals for Barcelona than Fati. He has played eight games for the club and has only just turned 17. Good luck, fella.

READ: Five records 16-year-old Barca prodigy Ansu Fati has broken in two weeks


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