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5 Barcelona youngsters looking to force their way into Quique Setien’s first-team

Barcelona’s young guns / Photo montage by Blaugranagram

FC Barcelona are continuing to churn out talent from their famed La Masia youth academy, with several Barça B players keen to be given the chance to shine in the first-team next season.

Lionel Messi, Xavi, Gerard Piqué, Andrés Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Carles Puyol all came through the ranks, and are just some of the alumni that have graduated and made their mark with the Catalan giants.

Ansu Fati, who joined the club’s youth ranks as a 10-year-old in 2012, is the latest player making waves in the first-team. Debuting in the 5-2 victory over Real Betis, aged 16 years and 298 days, he became the second-youngest player to debut for the club, behind Vicenç Martínez, who made his bow in 1941.

So, who could follow in the footsteps of Fati and convince boss Quique Setién they are ready for first-team action?

Riqui Puig (Central midfielder)

BARCELONA, SPAIN – January19: Riqui Puig #28 of Barcelona in action during the Barcelona V Granada, La Liga regular season match at Estadio Camp Nou on January 19th 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Born in Matadepera, Catalonia, Puig made his senior debut in the 4-1 victory over Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey clash at the Camp Nou last year.

The 20-year-old later made his La Liga debut in a 0-0 draw with Huesca last April, playing 67 minutes. The centre midfielder trains regularly with the first-team at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper alongside the likes of Messi and Luis Suárez.

With both Rafinha and Carles Aleñá on-loan at Real Betis and Celta Vigo respectively, and likely to be moved on, Puig is expected to to be given more of a chance to shine next season.

Arturo Vidal continues to be linked with a move away from the Camp Nou to Inter Milan, whilst Ivan Rakitić is wanted by former club Sevilla, AC Milan and Atlético Madrid, meaning Setién could turn to fresh blood already in his ranks, especially due to the financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, with Puig one of the contenders.

Ronald Araújo (Centre-back)

15 Ronald Araujo of FC Barcelona B celebrating a goal during La Liga match between FC Barcelona B and RCD Espanyol B at Johan Cruyff Stadium on January 04, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Uruguayan joined Barça B from his native Boston River in the summer of 2018 and has been ever-present in the backline at the Johan Cruyff Stadium. Araújo made his debut for the senior side in the 4-1 victory over Sevilla last October.

At 21, he will be looking to prove his worth to Setien and stake a claim for a place in the first-team. According to reports, Samuel Umiti is expected to depart this summer, which would free up a gap for Araújo to potentially fill. Gerard Pique, now 33, remains a key member of the defence but isn’t getting any younger, and Jean-Clair Todibo could well depart, with Everton keen. Step up Araújo.

Iñaki Peña (Goalkeeper)

BARCELONA, SPAIN – FEBRUARY 16: Inaki Pena Sotorres of FC Barcelona during the La Liga Santander match between FC Barcelona v Real Valladolid at the Camp Nou on February 16, 2019 in Barcelona Spain (Photo by Jeroen Meuwsen/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Born in Alicante, Peña has represented Spain at four different youth levels, earning a combined total of 28 caps, and was a runner up in the 2016 UEFA European Under-17 Championship.

The 21-year-old, who joined Barça in 2012, is yet to make his debut for the first-team but was called up to the senior side following an injury to Neto at the start of the current campaign. 

Reports suggest Brazilian Neto, could head back to Valencia after just one season at FC Barcelona, indicating Peña could make the step up and provide back up to Marc-André ter Stegen next season.

Alex Collado (Attacking midfielder)

BARCELONA, SPAIN – MARCH 07: Alex Collado of FC Barcleona warms up prior the Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad at Camp Nou on March 07, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Eric Alonso/MB Media/Getty Images)

Collado joined Barça B in 2009 following a stint with rivals RCD Espanyol. The Sabadell-born youngster was a member of the FC Barcelona youth team that won the 2017–18 UEFA Youth League, defeating Chelsea 3–0 in the final.

The pacy left-footer was a starter for the first-team in the 2-0 defeat to Celta Vigo in May last year and is hoping to catch the eye of boss Setién having been allowed to train with the senior stars.

With excellent vision, he is also a good reader of the game, has a lethal left-foot and also has an eye for the perfect pass. Being a versatile player, Collado can either feature in his preferred attacking role behind the strikers or deployed as a winger.

Monchu (Central-midfielder)

KOBE, JAPAN – JULY 27: Monchu of FC Barcelona in action during the preseason friendly match between Vissel Kobe and Barcelona at Noevir Stadium Kobe on July 27, 2019 in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

The vice-captain of Barça B, Monchu, hasn’t made an appearance for Setien’s side thus far but could be given the call up to join first-team training sessions at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper next campaign, alongside like the likes Puig, Collado and Peña.

Born in Palma, Monchu joined FC Barcelona’s youth setup in 2012, from RCD Mallorca. A regular under Barça B coach Xavi García Pimienta and still only 20-years-old, the midfielder has plenty of time to develop and improve his game. 

Should he continue to impress in the Segunda División B, Monchu could well be fast-tracked to first-team duties in the near future.