Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Barcelona Receive Defensive Boost Following The Upsurge Of Academy Prospect: No Garcia In Winter?

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Pratyay Maitra
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Barcelona, under Ronald Koeman, are having a very contrasting fortune at league and Europe. Although they have been the only outfit to maintain an all-win record so far in this season’s Champions League, an inconsistent La Liga run has placed them seventh in the standings. Moreover, a knee sprain endured by Gerard Pique has led to a crisis at the back, but the emergence of Oscar Mingueza might have saved the Catalans a few quids as reported by Sport.

The 21-year-old La Masia prodigy was promoted to the first-team setup earlier this summer but was handed a senior status only 10 days back. Koeman had to find someone in the absence of Pique, Samuel Umtiti as well as Ronald Araújo, and the young centre-half was introduced against Dynamo Kyiv to partner Clement Lenglet in the heart of the backline.

Mingueza, meanwhile, retained his place against Osasuna and Ferencvárosi despite fixture congestion and has encouraged the gaffer enough by claiming three successive cleansheets following his first-team debut. He was captaining the reserves in the Segunda Division B and featured as a left fullback depicting his versatility across the defensive third.

The spark of La Masia has dried up in recent years. An array of youngsters got promoted of late but have mostly settled for mediocrity elsewhere.

Mingueza in action for Barcelona
BARCELONA, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 29: Oscar Mingueza of FC Barcelona comforts his team mate Clement Lenglet during the La Liga Santader match between FC Barcelona and C.A. Osasuna at Camp Nou on November 29, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

However, Umtiti is closing in on a return having been sidelined for more than five months. He had some minutes with the youth on Wednesday though and the likelihood of his return seems not so far away with Piqued out injured. The Frenchman was heavily criticized for his below-par display week in week out, but the crisis-hit Barcelona must rely on him and Mingueza now before entering the winter window.

How The Emergence Of Mingueza Would Benefit Barcelona From Many Aspects

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant financial loss in all sectors. The Blaugrana, too, were hit by the catastrophe which resulted in the offloading of several high-profile names to save wages. They opted to wait for long-term target Eric Garcia who has decided not to extend his stay at Manchester City beyond next summer, but the current scenario might force them to rethink in January unless their fringe stars step up and deliver.

Mingueza has hardly put a foot wrong during the past two weeks and therefore, is likely to retain his place on Sunday night when Barcelona will visit Estadio Ramón de Carranza to lock horns with Cadiz. His towering presence is indeed a welcome boost that might allow the Catalans to wait a bit longer and rope in Garcia on a Bosman transfer.

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