Barcelona have shifted their attention from Bayern Munich’s Jonathan Tah to the Greek international, Panagiotis Retsos. The 19-year-old is breaking waves in the Bundesliga this season having appeared 22 times already and often selected ahead of Sven Bender in the centre-back role.
Retsos arrived at the BayArena last summer for €22m – a massive figure for a teenager. But if you have seen him on the pitch, you can understand where Olympiacos was coming from. The Johannesburg-born defender is best suited to the centre-back role but can play as a full-back as well. He impressed in the Europa League in the previous season for the Piraeus and was handed over the captain’s armband in the club’s 0-0 draw against Atromitos last year – the youngest captain in the club’s history.
Retsos is eligible to play for the South Africa national team but chose to play for Greece instead making his debut in the 0-0 draw against Estonia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. His promise of future stardom is boundless and given the favourable opportunity, the starlet is improving at a meteoric rate. However, will he receive the equal amount of opportunity with the La Liga giants?
Barcelona have made defensive reinforcements in the January transfer window through the signing of Yerry Mina for €11.8m. He has replaced Javier Mascherano in the centre-back role and is below the pecking order behind the likes of Samuel Umtiti and Gerard Pique. The Catalan side is currently trying to replace some of their longest serving players including Andres Iniesta, whose replacement is supposed to be Philippe Coutinho.
Perched at the top of the La Liga, Barcelona are well poised to continue their incredible domestic run into the UEFA Champions League against Chelsea in the Round of 16 stage. Lionel Messi is displaying signs of relentless perseverance to lead the side towards a strong finish this season. Losing Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain has left him with the majority of the creative responsibilities from the wide areas. He has conceded the Balon d’Or to his longtime nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo last year and now that the Portuguese is going through a rough patch, this is his chance to capitalise on the situation.
The Spanish League leaders already has a deep enough squad to challenge for multiple trophies in a season and securing the talents of promising youngsters is the best way to maintain their own lofty standards of being world champions. But any youngster’s best asset is regular game time, even more than trophies in the earliest stages of their career. Developing themselves against elite competition helps every player to follow up on their own promises. Maybe Retsos is better off biding his time with the German outfit before making the jump to a side where a starting XI role will be hard to come by.