Les Enfants Terrible: The Next Generation

As many of you know, it’s crunch time for our next generation of La Masia jewels. The contracts of Thiago Alcantara, Jeffren Suarez, Gai Assulin, and Jonathan Dos Santos who happen to be our best prospects at the Barca Athletic level ALL expire this spring. That means they can either resign professional contracts with Barca or leave on a free transfer. As can be expected, the (mostly EPL) vultures are out and circling. With elections being postponed until June, it seems that Guardiola and Txiki will have to force their hands before the new administration takes over. Adding to the tension is the proximity of a free transfer giving our canteranos’ agents a significant upper hand in negotiations. As much as it hurts, we will likely not be able to keep all of our guys. So, let’s have a little discussion about which ones will/should stay and which ones will/should go. Mug shots and profiles of our enfants terrible follow:

Gai Assulin
Position: Left Winger/Media Punta
Age: 18
Nationality: Israeli
Probably the least ready to contribute of all the kids, he might well be the one with the most upside. This is a kid who we have heard about for years. He has been touted as the next Masia superstar for quite some time. He is a natural winger with pace, close control, good crossing ability, and dribbling. Not a natural scorer, he has a little more Ronaldinho in him than Messi, alternating using his pace to escape defenders with using Ronny inspired flicks and trickery. Physically, he has a similar build to a Standard Mark 0 Masia winger just like Pedro and Jeffren: 5’7-5’8 but quick as hell. His close control, speed, and ability on the flanks are rare commodities in football today. He has the package to be a starter for years. However, the biggest knock on him so far has been his underwhelming performances during his pre-season and Copa Del Rey cameos with the A-Team. Furthermore, he has been injury plagued during the last two seasons, something which has hindered his development. Nevertheless, those who have seen him play in Barca Athletic have occasionally seen a devastating force that can tear other teams’ flanks apart. He is currently behind Henry, Pedro, Bojan, and Jeffren in the pecking order so if he stays on board it will be to play in Barca Athletic for at least another two years. He is a long term investment that many other teams are also willing to make. A kid with natural de-stabilizing ability who nevertheless needs several years to develop into a starting caliber player. The question is: are we willing to make the investment and is he willing to stay humble and patient and keep developing in Barca Athletic or will the lure of playing time in another league and more money make him leave?

Thiago Alcantara
Position: Center-Mid/ Attacking Mid
Age: 18
Nationality: Spanish (raised)/Italian (born)/Brazilian (parents and infancy)/OMG I don’t even know
Probably my personal favorite of the bunch. He is a center-midfielder who fits a profile unlike any midfielder currently on our roster. He is not a classic four prospect. The comparisons most used is a young Deco. A fearless, relentless midfielder who is not afraid to try the impossible dribble or pass (sometimes resulting in goals and sometimes in counterattacks against his team), Thiago was criticized most commonly in his younger days for his lack of commitment to defending and improving his off the ball movement. However, he has overcome those deficiencies and is now as relentless in pressuring the ball as he is in attacking and was praised by Luis Milla, the U-19 Spanish NT coach for his improvement in both areas. Oh yeah, national teams. He was the engine behind the 2008 U-17 Euro Cup champion Spain U-17 squad, scoring and assisting in the final. At the 2009 Copa Del Atlántico (a smaller Euro competition) he was the pichichi of the champion Spain U-18 squad as a midfielder and finished behind only Sergio Canales in the MVP race. He is more Iniesta than Xavi or Cesc. A guy who wants the ball at his feet and who relies more on technique than positioning at this point of his career, Thiago combines Brazilian flair with Spanish style passing. He has a remarkable passing range and great close control. Not the biggest guy, he makes up for his size deficiency with speed and grit. He is a “descarado” (shameless) player who is not afraid of competing with the big boys and has been proving it with good performances in the Gamper Cup and the first leg Copa loss to Sevilla this season. Like all the kids, he has much to improve on still but I think his confidence compares to that of Pedrito and Busquets. He was the youngest player in Barca Athletic at 16 and 17 years old and his development has seemingly not been halted by a few lengthy injuries. He missed the first team pre-season due to being injured and is currently working to make up the ground he lost to Jonathan for first team minutes. His younger brother Rafa (three years younger), another attacking midfielder who differs from his brother by being a lefty, was last season’s Juvenil B star and has recently re-signed with Barca and is currently one of the stars of Juvenil A.

Jonathan Dos Santos
Position: Center-Midfielder
Age: 19
Nationality: Mexican

The best #4 (the Xavi/Tempo Setter position) prospect in the pipeline at this time, he is the classic Barca center-midfielder. Great technique and positioning for his age, cannon of a long range shot, and excellent passing. After a string of good performances with the first team during pre-season, JDS has been the equivalent of last season’s version of Pedro. He goes back and forth between Barca Athletic and the A-Team, is a relative frequent fixture at A-Team practices, and gets the occasional, easy game, garbage time or Copa Del Rey roll out. What makes this all the more impressive is that despite being a year older than Thiago, prior to this season he had never even played for Barca Athletic, making the jump to a part time first teamer/ Athletic player straight from Juvenil A. During his performances with the A-Team he has exhibited remarkable maturity in his positioning, shown an extensive passing range, great use of the one touch pass, good ball control, and evidenced his powerful shot (he is also reputed to be a very good set piece specialist). He certainly was not intimidated by the big boys and repeated invitations to practice means that Guardiola is happy with what he sees. Remember that Pedro and Busi started out in the same way. He is not as daring (or reckless) as Thiago but he seems like a smart tempo setter who, if he stays humble and hungry, learning from his brother’s mistakes, could go quite far indeed. Keep in mind that his position is the hardest one to play in Barca and it takes years of dedication to grab the starting role. Look at how many games it took for Xavi to get to where he is and how a once in a generation great like Iniesta is still learning every season. A lot will depend on Jonathan’s determination and ability to learn. He is different from Thiago in that to me he seems like a deeper lying playmaker. He is not as aggressive, flashy or daring but at the same time he is more tactically and positionally sound at this time. Despite the Gio Disaster, Jonathan seems to have his head on straight and by all indications seems inclined to repay the confidence Pep has shown in him.

Jeffren Suarez
Position: Winger
Nationality: Venezuelan (birth)/Spanish (raised)
Age: 22
Jeffren is a pure natural winger with devastating pace who, similarly to Pedro, can play on both wings. We have seen him go in and out of the first team for the past two seasons. He is distinguished for his directness and de-stabilizing ability on the wings and in space. Besides being a good crosser, he also has an above average nose for goals given his position. Physically similar to Pedro and Gai, Jeffren may be the fastest of the bunch. Arriving at la Masia at 16, Jeffren has paid his dues. He put in two years in Juvenil A before becoming an important part of the Barca Athletic Team that Pep took from the third division into Segunda B. Pep coached him full time for a full season and frequently invited him to practice with the first team last season alongside Pedro. Thus, it’s safe to assume that Pep knows what he has in his hands with Jeffren. Despite impressing in two straight pre-seasons and performing well during his limited appearances, Jeffren’s progression has seemingly hit a pot hole with Messi, Henry, Iniesta, Bojan, and now Pedro taking up minutes in the wings. However, he does bring speed, explosion, and directness that under certain situations can be a great asset to bring off the bench as we saw against Estudiantes when he nearly turned the tide after replacing Henry, destroying the exhausted Estudiantes right fullback and creating constant danger from the wing. It seemed like he had his break out performance and more appearances would follow but, sadly, a knee injury in the friendly played in Kuwait right after the Club World Cup halted his progress and our exit from the Copa del Rey even further diminished his potential playing time this season. Being 22 and having patiently come up through the ranks, it is understandable that he is a little anxious regarding playing time. Can this team use two winger super-subs? Prior to this season, Jeffren had been just as impressive as Pedro is his first team appearances but now has been upstaged by his Masia classmate who has become an established squad member with the goals to prove it. Can he still hack out a place in the squad?

My take on how to evaluate them:

How good a cantera is should be measured by how much it contributes to the club’s first team. It’s not necessarily about producing superstars year after year but about producing players that positively contribute to your team’s success. Thus, we need to ask what these players would add to the team during this season and the next few ones. Every team needs squad and role players. The best case scenario is to have budding superstars who can be squad players for a while as they continue their progression. Iniesta and Messi at the start of their first team careers to me are great examples of this. However, this is all subject to what the team needs, now and in the near future. Therefore, my first big factor to consider is: what do they bring to the table as players that can potentially add to our resources?

We must also consider that this is an election year and the usual vote hunting promises and transfers will likely happen. For instance, there is a good chance that Rosell may make a real push after Cesc if he wins. As much as we like to pound our collective chest in the face of the world and proclaim ourselves as the paragon of virtue in the footballing world for using so much homegrown talent, the truth is that this is a relatively new thing for us. Even the 03-06 teams that brought Barca back from the Gaspart dark ages were composed mainly of imports and foreign signings like Ronaldinho, Deco, Gio, Marquez, Guily, Larsson, Edmilson, and Eto’o with only Valdes, Puyol, and Xavi as consistent first teamers (no, Oleguer does not count 😀 ). Hell, Xavi was sometimes left on the bench which now seems like blasphemy. Can the politicians hold off the urge to make a big splash so as to make their very own mark on the Pep Team? That’s the second big factor for me. Would Rosell buy Cesc just to make a splash when there is no starting place in the lineup for him while Xavi and Iniesta are healthy? Will our four canteranos believe that whoever they next administration is will continue to believe in them and give them a shot instead of trying to out-spend Flo Flo Dollaz?

The truth is that nurturing and developing canteranos requires a lot of patience and dedication. Evidence? Look at how often we blow our tops criticizing Busquets and/or Bojan. If they don’t play and don’t make mistakes then they will never develop. It’s a fine balance between long term and short term. Thankfully Pep apparently has more patience than we do. I also think we have been spoiled by Messi. It is not normal for somebody to be the best player in the world at 21 years old. It’s more of a once in a generation type thing, you know? Busquets is 21 years old and we expect him to be a Fernando Redondo or a Yaya right out of the box. He’s well on his damn way to get there but these things take time. Look at how long it took for Xavi and Iniesta to become undisputed starters and they are in their own rights once in a generation greats as well. It is more reasonable to expect a progression along the lines of Pedro who is only now becoming a solid contributor at 22 and even then mostly coming out of the bench. However, that’s us as fans. The problem is that the players have also been spoiled.

Watching guys like Cesc and Messi make it to the big times (and the big bucks) while being so young also impacts younger players. These examples allow their agents to exert even more pressure on the players and their families to convince them that they are too good to be sitting on the bench or paying their dues in the Segunda B with Barca Athletic. They often don’t understand that these guys are the exceptions to the rule. Furthermore, the EPL’s propensity to give out professional contracts like candy to the kids of the world further encourages them to go after the money. Countless kids who could develop into excellent players have had their talents wasted by being convinced that they are better than they truly are. Thus, my third factor to consider is whether the kids have the humility and the dedication to take their time learning and developing without the big publicity and money that comes with a starting spot. Iniesta and Pedro to me are shining examples of what this means. They shut up, worked hard, played wherever they were asked to, did not complain about playing time, learned from their teammates, and eventually they got their just reward. Not everybody has those qualities (see Gio Dos Santos for instance). Do these four guys and their families have it?

That’s it. I’ve got my opinion on who makes it and who doesn’t but I’ll save it for a follow up post. In the mean time, let’s hear what you guys think. Do we give JDS and/or Thiago their shots or should we just go for the sure thing and try to buy Cesc? Is Gai a victim of Pedro and Messi or should we move Pedrito to the starting left winger role when Henry leaves and give Gai a shot at the super sub winger position? Should we let Jeffren leave or will he step up in the remainder of the season and prove himself a worthy contributor? What do you guys and gals say?

As a bonus, here are some randomly picked clips of the aforementioned kiddies from the youtubes. Feel free to search for more clips if you want to.

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A diehard culé since the Rivaldo/Figo Judas days, I am also a rabid Argentina and Boca Juniors fan despite definitely not being Argentine. Read more articles by me by clicking on the name-link.


  1. FCBarca
    February 1, 2010

    Technically, Jeffren is already a first team footballer…Not sure how JDS is only #4 in the pipeline…I think of the Masia players, he has to be #1…Followed by Thiago & Fontas…Gai may even be behind Muniesa or Rochina, tbh

    • February 1, 2010

      Oops. Sorry about that one. When I say a #4, I refer to the position. Its’Guardiola’s old number and it refers to the “tempo setter/orchestrator” role currently occupied by Xavi. It has evolved over time with Pep being a deep lying holding midfield playmaker and Xavi evolving from a similar deep position into a true box to box player. However, he is the one that manages the team.

      Jonathan is a classic #4 prospect in the sense that he projects to play a role similar to Xavi’s. Its a position that requires a lot of developing and patience.

      Sorry for assuming it was common knowledge. I should have not. Its the geek in me 😀 .

      • Necro Spaaw
        February 1, 2010

        i got wat u meant
        its okay 🙂

  2. Tyler
    February 1, 2010

    I think based on what I’ve seen playing with the first team, Jeffren and Alcantara are the most promising. Gai Assulin looks great in those airfootball vids, but hasn’t done much for me when playing with the first team. I think all of them have the potential to be amazing, but like you said it’s up to them to be patient. I think whichever one has the patience to wait, like Iniesta and Pedro, should be the ones we keep!

    Also, I think we put too much emphasis on young players being amazing from the start. Look at Xavi, he is just now 30 years old and probably at his peak play. It took Iniesta several years to play like he does, and he still has not hit his ceiling. Messi is a phenom, and I don’t think he should be the standard we judge all the canteranos on. Let them grow, mature, and find their place when the time is right.

    • FCBarca
      February 1, 2010

      Very good point about Leo…I think that same kind of expectation was unfairly put on Bojan a bit…Messi is clearly the exception, hardly the norm.

      I think Iniesta’s arc is a good one to keep an eye on…JDS, Thiago, Fontas & Rochina are really some terrific young players

  3. Az
    February 1, 2010

    I was fortunate to watch my two beloved teams battle it out at Wembley stadium last summer (Barcelona and Tottenham). I also watched the second game of the tournament against Al Ahly. I felt blessed to witness a number of la cantera in action including JDS, Gai & Jeffren.

    It was the first (and only time) i saw Gai in action and he looked like one for the future. neat touches, quick, close ball control. Didn’t do to badly against a near full strength Tottenham team.

    I’ve seen JDS and Jefferen a number of times. JDS in my opinion is the most consistent of the bunch. Everytime i see him he’s always looking for the ball and has a good eye for a pass. He looks like something in between Xavi and Iniesta. The way he gets around the pitch reminds me of a young iniesta and when he sits and controls the game, a young Xavi.

    As for Jeffren. The first time i saw him was a few years ago when we had pre-season games in Scotland. He looked awesome. Taking on players for fun with his blistering pace. Personally i thought he was going to make it over Pedro. Though this season he seems to have taken a step backwards. Seems a bit inconsistent but huge potential.

    Thiago i’ve seen a number of times on t.v. and you have it spot on. Young deco! looks very comfortable when thrown in at the deep end. Looked very impressive against Sevilla showing neat touches and a great piece of skill. I would love to see a record breaking Barca team with a midfield trio of JDS, Thiago and Iniesta in the future.

    From what i’ve seen i’d be very disappointed if we let any of these go. If I had to pick one as an expense of keeping the others, i would have to say Jeffren because of his age and the fact he’s far behind in the pecking order and probably deserves some first team experience which he might not get.

    I want to see alot more from these exciting prospects in the near future. Hopefully all wearing the blaugrana colours!

  4. Soto
    February 1, 2010

    I would like to see Barcelona hold onto all of them. Particularly for the younger players (under 20) even if their future on the Barcelona first team is less secure than they might like, developing on Barcelona’s B-team would not be a waste. They could fight for Barcelona senior team and time and even if they failed, by 22 or 23 they would be in a good position to attract the attention of an Arsenal or a Bayern Munich or an Inter Milan or one of many other teams with a good eye for talent. Except the lost salary potential, I would think staying is a win-win for Barcelona and the under-20s.

    My logic, of course, would suggest that Jeffren should be thinking of going. With Pedro! clearly claiming space on the senior team, Jeffren is in a tougher position. His choice may depend more on what Bojan does and how Bojan performs. Without Bojan, maybe Jeffren thinks he can turn a super-sub position into a more regular playing time position. But with Bojan around, they are both fighting for the long-shot possibility. So Jeffren seems to have the most reason to seriously consider what other options may be open to him. There are plenty of teams throughout Europe that could benefit from his talent.

    Above all, I hope, despite the elections fiasco that is inevitably coming, that we do not expend large sums of money on an outside player that we do not obviously need. I am not focusing on any particular rumor. I am just worried that vote pandering promises will lock us into decisions that are not optimally beneficial. I don’t think any of the rumored promises would hurt us outright, but they strike me as not worth the cost and effort.

  5. jordi
    February 1, 2010

    Well im a thiago fanboy admittedly.The kid has magic in him.I would actually cry if we lost him.How we let their contracts get to this point is a mystery in itself :/

    Id let jeffren go, of them all, if there was a choice, i think he can be a very good winger, but most probably for a depor, villarreal , sevilla level team.Or even higher, kind of like luis garcia sanz, which is not a knock on him.

    I cant wait till a couple years down the road when Rafa and Deulofeu and the ridiculously strong and fast cameroonian kids start to break through 😀 But i hope we have patience, and let any of the future promoted to just enjoy themselves on the field without too much pressure on them, i.e whistling every bad touch.

    • stephen
      February 2, 2010

      I have to agree about jeffren, he’s already 22, I think to be fair to him, we have to let someone else take him for a while and make sure of the skills which could benefit that particular club, and perhaps the future might bring him back like our beloved Cesc.

  6. jnelson
    February 1, 2010

    I want them all! Unfortunately here is my prioritized list in the order of who we should keep most:
    1. JDS 2. Thiago 3. Gai 4. Jeffren

    Here is my list on the likeliness of them leaving for greener pastures:
    1. Jeffren 2. Gai 3. JDS 4. Thiago

    We should definitely keep JDS and Thiago. I think we should also keep Gai, but 50/50 he stays, he leaves for money and ish. Jeffren? I think he leaves, but once again I say keep him. Someone should tell them that leaving will not make them any better. You are either good enough to start for Barca, or you are not ready yet. Everyone, minus Jeffren, could very well be stars of the team in the future. Jeffren has a few more years on them and with Messi, Bojan, and P! I see too much competition, especially when you add in our next LW, whoever that turns out to be.*

    *Still hoping for Luis Suárez

  7. Pyro
    February 1, 2010

    Great article Hector; I enjoyed it a lot. I find this video really interesting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpG2mP586Yc
    I believe we should hang onto JDS and Thiago and Gai, Jeffren should get at least a shot but if he can’t break trough he should at least get loaned or something, the kid has talent

  8. sirius
    February 1, 2010

    being of israeli descent im a little biased as Gai is considered to be the hope of israel after ben sahar has become a flop. anyways, i think gai has huge talent, he does remind me of ronaldinho much more than messi which he is often compared to. He has only played a few minutes with the first team and im a little surprised to hear people saying he didnt show anything, he had some real slick moves and great touches during preaseason. Cant ask for any more really in his first few games. Gai is the one prospect im most excited for.

    Jeffren on the other hand really doesnt do much for me, hes 22 so he cant really be considered a prospect anymore in footbal years haha. I think everyone projects gai, pedro and bojan to in the future be better than jeffren so why even sucker him into staying.

    Also a note on keirrison, it boggles my mind that he even isnt given a shot, if foirentina buys him after 2 years and he never even got to put on the barca shirt which he specially negotiated into his contract because he loves the club so much, it will be very dissapointing. This in the end seems like barca was trying to do a bit of business more than running a football club. Use the players love for the club to get him at a cheap price so they can loan out and sell for a higher price. joke is they are barely going to get their money back. i can deifnitly see this turning into a yoan gourcuff situation. come on pep!

    • vicsoc8
      February 2, 2010

      Sorry, but I think Keirrison putting a clause in his contract is nonsense. I think it has a whole lot more to do with Traffic’s shady dealings with some members of our board that the clause existed.

    • Jnice
      February 2, 2010

      If Keirrison wants to play at Barça, he’ll reject personal terms with Fiorentina if they want to buy him. That’s all. It’s not like he doesn’t have a say.

      • Jnice
        February 2, 2010

        Have you guys never played Football Manager and loaned out a player giving the team an option to buy only for them to come back a year later because they couldn’t agree personal terms? 😀

  9. vicsoc8
    February 2, 2010

    Muniesa is my current favorite canterano in the team, bless the football gods he just resigned and we don’t have to worry about losing him.

    After that Thiago is definitely my pick to make the first team. He has the natural set of skills and apparently the work ethic to match, and I think he could become a fantastic player.

    I also support JDS and I think the issue with his brother will convince him that leaving doesn’t guarantee you immediate glory, much less playing time. I want him to stay. However, if Cesc is bought I see a problem with keeping both JDS and Thiago and satisfying both their desire for playing time (within the next couple of years).

    Jeffren is my pick for more likely to leave. I think both he and Pedro were brought into the first team with the hope that one of them would make it, and Pedro made it. Jeffren just strikes me as too one dimensional right now – he can blast by his defender and cross the ball but we usually need our wingers to provide more options than that. Add on top of this that his agent has been clamoring for more playing time and I see him leaving.

    Gai is somewhat of a mystery to me. He’s definitely a good player but for some reason I get the feeling he is impatient and wants to move somewhere where he thinks he will get a lot of time. If we bring in a new LW this summer I fully expect him to leave, although I hope he stays. The problem is he is going to need 2 to 4 more years to break into the team, and I’m not sure he’s willing to wait.

    • Miguel
      February 2, 2010

      he turned down chelsea a little while ago, but you’re right. who knows? wenger’s pounding at his door i’ve heard.

    • BL
      February 2, 2010

      yeah these kids that we’re stressing about aren’t the only ones out there to get excited for…

      muniesa is going to be awesome, hes got a certain swagger to the way he plays that indicates hes going to rock some serious game when hes ready.

      i also really like fontas, never seen a defender so young be that poised and calm, plus his touch is like butter. very reassuring type of defender, i really really hope hes given a chance to shine at barça in the next 2 years with puyol getting older.

      because in 4 years theres going to be a worse logjam of cantera madness:

      ruben rochina – the kid has some skills and will be 22
      the younger alcantara (rafa) will be 21
      the insanely good isaac cuenca turns 22
      gael etock will hit 21
      deulofeu will be 18
      muniesa 21
      gai 22
      thiago 22
      jonathan 23
      sergi roberto 22
      the wee guillem laporta will be 17!
      … and some kid named vivaldi leonid bakoyock aka ‘bako’ will be 20!

      fun times to be a barça fan 🙂

  10. stephen
    February 2, 2010

    I would keep Thiago, he’s okayed a few minutes and shown something, and it would be nice to see that develop, hes young, he can wait a bit to get in some minutes on the A-team, pre-seasons, next copa, etc.
    and I have to agree with vicsoc8, Muniesa is promising, we should actually give him more minutes.

  11. Miguel
    February 2, 2010

    didn’t we lose fabregas during an election year?

    ideally i’d like an older left winger to come in over the summer and that’s it. i’m a huge fabregas fan but an even bigger one of jdubs’. if we buy fabregas now gio’s little brother is gone to some crappy epl team too. alcantara can sub in for iniesta so i see him staying in the squad.

    i’m gunning for gai assulin to make the left winger spot his own, even at the expense of bojan, even though my gut feeling says we need a converted striker on the left while messi-xavi=dani create the plays on the right. don’t know if he has the most upside to him but he’ll definitely be a crack.

  12. February 2, 2010

    Les Enfants Terrible? Is that a reference to the original novel or to Metal Gear Solid?

  13. BL
    February 2, 2010

    my take:

    gai – too young to tell yet, needs to develop further with barça athletic. everytime i’ve seen him play he disappoints me and i see immaturity all over his game. however, by no means should the club allow him to leave any time soon.

    anyone under the age of 22 needs to be kept or loaned without question until they can at least get a realistic chance of showing us what they are made of.

    thiago – dope player, really love the glimpses of greatness hes shown so far. he opened my eyes in both the matches i can remember at the moment, vs man city and vs sevilla.

    jonathan – hes my pick for the next midfield legend, love this kid so much. definitely in the xavi mold with a great nose for goal i think. i’d love to see some freekicks from him.

    jeffren – hes the most likely to go elsewhere, his age may dictate it and the players in front of him could contribute to his departure as well. hes a great player and i like him, just have a feeling hes not going to make it at barça.

    if pep gets his way it sounds like 4 new signings may take place this summer, a midfielder (potentially cesc), a left winger (they’ll try for ribery), a right back and cut loose pinto for some new blood. this paints a bleak image for jeffren and highly reduces the chances that jonathan or thiago will get regular playing time in the next 2-3 years. which isn’t that bad really, because you have to remember they are 18-19 years old and as hector stated most young players need time. they may not mature fully until they are 23 or 24 perhaps, like iniesta (even though he was a super-sub for years beginning at 20).

    so, xavi isn’t going anywhere for another 2 seasons at least, iniesta is in his prime, cesc would be another superstar that could reach his full potential with barça and be crazy good. i have a feeling that pep would really like to have as midfield options:

    xavi – iniesta – cesc
    keita – yaya – busquets

    look at the combinations! it would give him 9 (near) perfectly balanced midfield combos, and many more after that.

    bad news for canteranos that want to play midfield in the first team soon, they’re going to have to wait.

  14. February 2, 2010

    I’ve always been a monster fan of Gai! Some of the comments here suggested that JDS is a mix of our Xavi and Iniesta which sounds awesome but Assulin IMO is a mix of Ronaldinho and Messi which is wicked! He’s young but if he can screw his head on right and play with a little more maturity he’s definitely my #1 to stay on. From what i saw of him in pre season, he seemed too eager to impress. That kind of attitude should be honed and cared for BY BARCA.

    JDS and Thiago are pretty sure to get contracts based on what we’ve seen of them so far. JDS, in particular, seems like he’s learnt a thing or two from his brother’s story – a potential superstar to meh.. Arsenal is the only place luring enough for kids like these because they know for sure that they will see a good amount of playing time and will be under the guidance of a coach who’s really good at nurturing the young’uns

    If we had to let someone of them go, I wouldn’t be too sad if Jeffren and Bojan left. preferably Bojan being used as a make weight for Cesc. The pursuit of Cesc is primarily to fill a position in midfield that may be vacant soon as the legend that is Xavi wears out. The kids will get a lot of time to play if they are patient.

  15. February 2, 2010

    these youngsters need to have patience.
    just look at iniesta. he was developed slowly and look what he has become.worlds greatest.
    signing cesc alone would not hurt the chances of thiago & jds.
    it’s only good for them as they can learn from the best in business(xavi,iniesta & cesc).
    if not, we can always loan them out. but i’d prefer that we keep them and let them have some minutes in games where we lead by 2 goals or more.not only 5 minutes playing time(pep style).
    thiago & jds are midfielders. they need more time to develop IMO.

    • DontPanic
      February 2, 2010

      I understand what you are saying about patience, but on the other hand buying back Cesc would just show our cantenaros that you DONT have to be patient. Go to another club for free, play there for 4-6 years and Barca are gonna cash out 50 million to get you back. So why wait on the bench when you can play somewhere else full-time?

      • Sid
        February 2, 2010

        Touche. This is one of the big reasons I am against the signing of Cesc.

  16. Boat Forever
    February 2, 2010

    JDS, Thiago & Jeffren to stay probably… Gai is most probably gonna be used as a bait to lure Cesc from Arsenal. With renewed speculation I’m kinda starting to believe that he indeed gonna come to us next season, too bad fo Busi of all imo. Always wanted Busi to be the successor of Xavi 🙁

    Well, 2 years from I could see a team of VV, new keeper, Alves, Pique, Botia(this guy is gonna be the new Rb signing every body is talking about), Fontas/Henrique, Dima, Abidal, new LB(could this one be Muniesa!?), Puyi(coach/player), Yaya(yeah he’s staying 🙂 ), Busi, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, JDS, Thiago(most probably will be sold in 2 years if Cesc does arrive), Pedro, Jeffren, Ibra, Messi, Bojan & Keirrison(hopefully)

    • Boat Forever
      February 2, 2010

      too bad for Busi*
      2 years from now*

  17. Kxevin
    February 2, 2010

    Keirrison is gone, unless he fails to impress at Fiorentina. They have the right to buy him outright if they like him. That one bums me out, because I think that he is going to develop into a world-class striker. He just needs polish, and a little more muscle. He should have gone to a club that was already having comfortable success, where he could have seen some occasional first team action (kinds like, say, us). Instead we sent him to Benfica, who are in a “win now” dogfight. Keirrison didn’t have a chance there.

    Fiorentina is a good situation for him. The club isn’t going anywhere, up or down, and with their striker situation he will definitely get time.

    Thiago is my favorite canterano, followed by JDS. If the rumor that we have first refusal rights on Ribery are true, can anyone see that deal not getting done? This means that Jeffren has no reason to stay. Compounding his situation is that Pedro! is really good, but not world class yet. So a guy like Ribery comes in for a couple of years while P! is honed fully, which means that Jeffren is doubly screwed.

    And the midkids will all be watching what happens with Fabregas. He’s only 22, and if he comes, he and Inieata means that our midfield is etched in stone for the foreseeable future. That’s ultimately why I’m against the Fabregas signing. Not only will it be too expensive in initoal cash outlay, but it will cause some potentially great midkids to skedaddle.

    BL’s point about how packed the cantera is brings up another isue, which is if we keep laying in spendy foreign talent, what’s the incentive for the kids to hang around? Why not leave, become a star like Fabregas, then get the bumper contract from someone,maybe us?

    • Jnice
      February 2, 2010

      Like I said before, if he really loves Barça and wants to play here, he won’t agree to personal terms when the time comes. That’s all it takes for him to come back. He has a say, too.

    • Boat Forever
      February 2, 2010

      If there’s any truth in the rumor that he had a separate clause included in his deal with Cortiba that he should be sold for only 14mill if barca comes for him and can quote as much as they wish for others, then yeah he might probably reject any contract offered by Fiorentina eventually… and that is if Pep showed even a tiny bit of interest in him, but seriously I doubt it 🙁 All we can hope for is he doesn’t come back to bite us but be a very successful striker in Europe even if he doesn’t return to us

  18. yogi
    February 2, 2010

    I think we will get a top class forward in summer so Jeffren, though good, will likely see even less of action. Hence it makes sense to let him go.

    I like the rest and hope they stay put. I would really like JDS to stay as I can see him developing to be a 4. For Assulin and Thiago, it would be nice if they say but i shall not shed any tears if they left for greener pastures. Realistically they will also not get lot of chances in coming two years and they need to be willing to be patient to wear the colors.

    • February 2, 2010

      why yogi?
      thiago is a huge talent. he will get his chances if pep rests our players more or sub them off.to me, thiago is a direct replacement for iniesta and you know, iniesta is injury prone.

      • yogi
        February 2, 2010

        I like Thiago and would like him to stay. On other hand, we have xavi, yaya, iniesta, keita and busi who are already competing for 3 slots. then we have jds who is knocking on door. thiago will be competing with jds for opportunities. If we also get Cesc then the opportunities will be really limited. hence i will feel sad to let him go but can understand it. To complete, i still want him to stay though assuming he understands the situation and wants to be part of the team.

        • February 3, 2010

          look at iniesta.at what age did he become a regular?
          and we should loan him out to a mid table la liga team if pep doesn’t want to use him.

  19. Hilal
    February 2, 2010

    I am not worried about which of these kids is let go. Pep and the technical staff will know who to sell and who to keep. Historically the club has always made good decisions in this regard. We let Gio go but look what happened there, he was a flop. We let Merida go, but he barely gets any playing time. Wwe let Fabs go, but realistically he would not have had much playing time had he stayed and he is still nowhere near as good as Xavi or Iniesta. The british press always like to overhype any players playing in the EPL and i think this is happening a lot with Fabergas. Yes, he is a good player, but he is not remarkable. He is not a Xavi or an Iniesta and he has a long way to go before he reaches that level. He is certainly not worth the kind of money they are demanding (not to us anyways). We have two better players who occupy his position and many youngsters breaking through who can take over in a few years.

    All that being said, personally I like Thiago and JDS. Gai is touch and go and Jeffren is good, but i think if he was going to break through he would have done so already. I think of the four, Jeffren is the most likely to leave. Gai is still very young and should be patient enough to stick around. As long as we dont buy Cesc in the summer then Thiago and JDS have a big shout for the first team so i can see them staying and working for a place. The thing is, our team right now is making history, these kids are in a remarkable position to be part of this magnificent team. Who is going to give that up on the off chance that they might get more minutes for a club that may or may not win anything. Look at Cesc, as good as he has been, what major trophies does he have to his name? None. I think the situation of the club now is much better than when Cesc left. Take Bojan as an example, he barely gets to play and yet he doesnt want to leave, he doesnt even want to go on loan, he wants to stay and try his best to break through. I doubt that would be the case if we hadnt had such a historic season last year. A lot may also depend on whether or not Pepe stays, he must be like a god to most of these kids.

  20. Jnice
    February 2, 2010

    JDS and Thiago are my favorites. After that first preseason game JDS played, I was singing his praises, but others weren’t so impressed. You guys know who you are 😀 But then he played a couple of more games and people started to take notice.

    Hopefully Gai does better next preseason, if he is still here.

    Jeffren, I like, but I just think with his age and everything, he won’t settle for being 3rd or 4th in the pecking order. And with the way his dad/agent was talking a month ago, I reckon he’s a goner.

    Like BL said, I’m excited for the other youngsters not mentioned in the post and I’m sure Pep or whoever is here are going to suffer some selection headaches. I would however, like us to utilize the loan option a bit more for players who realistically won’t play much with the first squad, and hopefully loan them to teams in Spain.

  21. Eduard
    February 2, 2010

    With the same money we can lure Cesc and Ribery to Barcelona with we can reinvest or la cantera. Think about this, can we fish someone from our youth ranks that will be able to do what Ribery does for Munich? Yes, probably better to as they know our style and the fluidity would be better if we stuck with Pedro/jeffren/gai and all those can play RW too in case Messi ever gets injured(which he will). Same with the midfield. Can one of our canteros do what Cesc does at Arsenal? Yes, JDS and Thiago and Busquets all show the promise of doing what Cesc does. Cesc is a political tool. I hope he retires at Arsenal. We only need to consider transfers when we have nobody to fill that spot. We don’t have anyone at the moment who can do what Alves/Abidal/Keita/Ibra does. But if we had canteros who can do that, then I’d say stick with the canteros.

  22. Tyler
    February 2, 2010

    ok, I’m throwing this out here and it might be completely idiotic but…

    saying Cesc does come, I imagine Yaya will be out one way or the other. What if Cesc played the DM position but a very advanced attacking version of it. Obviously, this would be hard to pull off correctly, but if he could, and leave Xavi and Iniesta on the field at the same time, that might be an interesting solution. But that also hurts Keita, and Busquet’s playing time.

    ahhh whatever I doubt he’ll come. he loves Arsenal.

  23. February 2, 2010

    the way i see it, we have a direct replacement for every key player in the Athletic team.
    pep should give those kids some time and faith. especially with their contracts expiring. it’s really dangerous as we might lose them like how we lost cesc last time.

  24. Eklavya
    February 2, 2010

    Why do so many people want don’t have much faith in Jeffren? He’s the oldest so what? It only means that he has more patience and has been waiting for his chance.
    If Pedro would suddenly stop scoring, then I think Jeffren could take his stop (if Henry isn’t around) cause Jeffren doesn’t score much but he provides more width, better crosses and more team play. IMO he brings more to the team that P! who as someone says, is lacking “tactical intelligence”.
    I’d love to give Jeffren more time, seeing how awesome he was vs. Estudiantes and Cultural Leosna(how do you write that?).

  25. Eklavya
    February 2, 2010

    Just watched the Assulin video, by god, he moves like messi alright! Crazy dude, only that it’s not that easy in A team with real defenders…

  26. Eklavya
    February 2, 2010

    Also, JDS has one hell of a first touch! He likes making loads of first passes, and they’ve worked out well too…

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