Fermin Lopez of FC Barcelona celebrates the victory at full time during the La Liga EA Sports match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC played at Lluis Companys Stadium on September 29, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain.

La Masia has done it again – Barcelona’s Iniesta regen screams generational talent

An own-goal from Sergio Ramos was the difference as Barcelona beat Sevilla, but the headlines afterwards weren’t about the former Real Madrid man’s blunder against his age-old rivals – they belonged to yet more La Masia stars stealing the show.

Ramos wouldn’t have been absolutely fizzing back in the changing room if it weren’t for the exploits of the nauseatingly impressive Lamine Yamal, whose cross forced the veteran into a rare error.

As seems to always be the case at the moment, the 16-year-old was central to almost everything positive that Xavi’s side managed to produce against Sevilla.

We say ‘almost’ for a good reason. Enter Fermin Lopez.

La Blaugrana have been at their very best when the first team is founded upon a spine of exceptional in-house talent, supplemented with stars elsewhere and more La Masia worldbeaters on the fringes.

Xavi was an integral part of successful Barca squads like that himself, and appears to be trying his best to bring it back now he’s in the dugout. Yamal’s step up to first-team responsibilities appeared to be step one, and the integration of 20-year-old midfielder Lopez has emerged as step two.

Being thrust into the spotlight just 37 minutes into the contest to replace an injured Raphinha, Lopez made an annoyingly instant impact. Watching him was enough to produce that sickening, sinking feeling in your stomach.

Another one of these freakishly good, generational talents spawning in, is it? Yeah, seems to be the case. Brilliant. Another nail in the coffin for our football careers that never took off. Back to Sunday league it is.

It’s pretty hard to stand out as a youngster breaking through at Barcelona at the minute with Yamal running the operations at 16 years old, so for Lopez to jump into the game and immediately put on a mini-Andres Iniesta tribute act was pretty special.

We say Iniesta, but the kid has several layers to his game, going off his cameo against Sevilla.

Lopez comes flying out of the traps from the bench, buzzing around the pitch like a rabid wolverine, but crucially with that Iniesta-esque silky ball carrying receiving on the half turn.

Anyone who can match technique with intensity is onto a winner in today’s game. Lopez did that straight away.

From powerful bursts through the middle of the field to intricate passing movements on the edge of the opponent’s box, Lopez looked like a veteran who’d been at it for years. He certainly didn’t resemble a new face to the squad thrown in at the deep end after only a handful of senior appearances.

But that’s what makes him so promising. Coming along with all that physical and technical prowess appears to be an unwavering fearlessness, best highlighted by that menacing half-turn/dummy he’s got in his locker, which sent several Sevilla players for a hotdog during his cameo.

Iniesta was adored for his ability to knit together attacking plays and pop up with goals. Lopez absolutely has the potential to replicate that alongside the likes of Pedri, Gavi and Yamal as Xavi desperately attempts to revive Barcelona from within.

There’s plenty of room to improve and a long season ahead, but the early signs are extremely promising. Lopez is undoubtedly one to watch.

Whatever cooking in that alien lab that is La Masia, long may it continue.

By Mitch Wilks

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