Barcelona, Spain, 25, October, 2023. Spain-Football-Champions League FC Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk. (32) Fermin Lopez celebrates his score.

The La Masia lab has struck gold – Barca’s newest midfield maestro has a foot like a traction engine

Someone needs to run some tests on La Masia and pull Xavi in for questioning, because it feels like Barcelona are churning out obscenely talented young ballers for fun right now.

The world stood still for a moment when the legendary midfielder made a then 15-year-old Lamine Yamal his first real project since taking the Barcelona job in 2021, very quickly promoting him from the youth ranks and, well, school, to being an absolute cheat code for the first team.

He could’ve stopped there, and worked solely on carefully integrating young Yamal into the senior setup around a glut of world class talent while La Blaugrana try to build on last season’s La Liga title in a bid to return to the top of the mountain.

But oh no, Xavi just couldn’t help himself.

He just had to reignite the flame under La Masia and just had to go and pluck out a few more exceptional young talents with scarily high ceilings.

Fermin Lopez has been one to emerge in the 2023-24 season, adding bite and flair in equal amounts to a refreshed Barca midfield.

The 20-year-old doesn’t just possess that trademark technical ability that all great Barcelona prospects have, however.

He seems to have been blessed with a turbocharged right peg, so powerful that it could probably send us all up to Mars.

If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about midfielders, it’s Xavi. So it says a great deal about the potential of young Lopez that he’s suddenly doing his best to blood him in, as he’s tasked with rebuilding Barcelona.

He was quite literally everywhere as they dispatched of Shakhtar in a 2-1 win, pressing like a hound and coupling it up with marvellous footwork, with the occasional rocket aimed at goal in between.

You’re not here to be bored to death about stats and running and intricate abilities, though, because he scored this absolute thunderb*stard.

Not only that; he scored an absolute thunderb*stard, in a Player of the Match display, on his first Champions League start – for Barcelona.

That is freakish levels of promising.

The entire performance is masterful. On his maiden European start for arguably the biggest club in the world, Lopez looked like he was playing with his slippers on.

Except for when he was rifling the ball at the goal. Even Alan Partridge would struggle for superlatives to do it justice – ‘foot like a traction engine’ is an understatement.

“He is hungry and has a great character — that’s very important,” Remarked Xavi when asked about him recently.

“When I saw that in training, I realised I had to give him minutes. I trusted him and he is delivering. That’s what football is about.”

Talk about a vote of confidence.

Heaping that kind of responsibility on a player at such an early stage in their career can often weigh heavy and result in implosion, but it shows no signs of upsetting Lopez.

In fact, he seems to have improved with the trust of his head coach. The shackles are off and the bionic foot has been freed.

Goalkeepers across Europe, be warned. Lopez is coming and he’s claiming your wrists.

By Mitch Wilks

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