Barcelona’s La Masia is one of the most well-renowned football academies in the world. In the peak of their powers, they produced players like Xavi, Iniesta, Busquets, Puyol, and of course, Lionel Messi. These players have won the sextuplets, one more treble, and various domestic and international trophies in the rampage against the rest of Europe in the 21st century.
Now, however, the faith in La Masia stars is dwindling, and there is a fear that the wonder-kids generation is gone and may not return. However, in this data analysis, I would like to show the diamonds in the rough and use statistics to find good players that suit the Barcelona style and should make the step up to the main team.
The players mentioned below are the ones we will be looking at. They must have played at least five games for FC Barcelona B.
- Nils Mortimer
- Rey Manaj
- Ilaix Moriba
- Ferrán Sarsanedas
- Jorge Cuenca
- Oscar Mingueza
- Hiroki Abe
- Ronald Araujo
- Dani Morer
- Riqui Puig
- Jandro Orellana
- Ludovit Reis
- Kike Delgado
- Guillem Jaime
- Alex Collado
- Sergio Akieme
- Monchu Rodriguez
As the goalkeepers would skew the data for metrics, they have not been included.
Now, we shall look at the various qualities that Barcelona looks for in a player and come to a shortlist of five players that excel in the various metrics, and analyse them in future posts.
The first graph we will be looking at is the player goalscoring ability this season. We will look at the Goals per 90 against the xG per 90, which should show us if they outperform their xG. If they do, it means that they are good finishers.
Ilaix Moriba and Kike are the standout performers in terms of goalscoring this season. Ilaix Moriba, the central midfielder has shone this season, having been called up from the U19 side at the age of 17. He has an xG of 0.12 per 90 but has 0.31 goals per 90. While he has not played that many games this season, it is a testament to his future ability as a midfielder for Barcelona B and could feature in the main team. The other player is Kike, who has an xG per 90 of 0.15 while scoring 0.31 goals per 90 this season. He is a left-winger who plays regularly, having played 22 games this season.
Other players that are performing well with their finishing ability are Monchu, Jorge Cuenca and Alex Collado.
The next graph will look at the creativity of the players by looking at their key passes per 90 against their passes into the final third per 90 to find the best players who play the most killer passes per game to create goalscoring opportunities.
The household name amongst Barcelona fans right now in terms of midfielders is Riqui Puig, who shows up incredibly here with a whopping 13.15 passes into the final third every game. This is way above the average of the other players at 5.2 passes into the final third. However, his 0.09 key passes are relatively lower compared to the average of the other players. Another standout player is Sergio Akieme, the left-back. He makes an immense 0.79 key passes per game, but does not make that many into the final third as his role as a full-back is limited to providing passes down the line for the wingers to collect. This means that Barça B’s most creative talent is Guinean full-back.
Two other players in a good spot for both metrics are Dani Morer and Guillem Jaime. Morer, the Spanish right-back, has 3 assists to his name while averaging 5.36 passes into the final third and 0.55 key passes. Guillem Jaime, who is also a right-back, has 2 assists so far. He can play as a right-winger as well and contributes to his numbers of 5.92 passes into the final third and 0.55 key passes. This is a testament to Garcia Pimienta’s style of using advanced full-backs.
Now, seeing that Barcelona prefers players that are good at attacking play, we will be looking at the best players in the academy to progress the ball up the pitch. Two main forms of doing that are by looking at the dribbles up the pitch and the volume of progressive passes made, both on a per 90 basis:
There are three players to note here. Firstly, Kike Delgado, the dribbler. Kike is the left-winger who features regularly for the Barcelona side. He attempts the most dribbles per game in this side at 8.62 dribbles per 90 and is far away from the rest of the players. However, he has the third-lowest forward passes per 90 in our talent pool, which is relatively disappointing. The second closest to him is Alex Collado, who is already getting called up regularly to the main team. He attempts 6 dribbles per game, which is good numbers for a right-winger. He is also better than Kike at making forward passes and creating plays, averaging 8 forward passes per game. This shows the wingers are adept at dribbling and beating their opponents.
Óscar Mingueza features well in this graph, making the most forward passes at 27.97 per 90 minutes. Mingueza is a center-back who can also play at left-back and right-back. The high volume of attacking passes made by him, and by the other defenders like Araujo is mostly because they are the most further back defensive line, so almost every pass they make is forward. But, Mingueza is most comfortable on the ball and makes the most of all the defenders, so he is definitely worth a shout.
The player in the sweet spot this time is Riqui Puig, the young central midfielder. He has made 18 forward passes so far per game this season and has attempted 5.74 dribbles per game. This shows that Barcelona B has an abundance of great ball progressors for their level and would contribute a lot to Barcelona’s attacking football.
Shortlist of Players
Riqui Puig – Central Midfielder
The first player on our list is no surprise to any Barcelona fans that are keeping up with the news recently. He has already made the step up to the main team at a young age and adds an attacking spark to Barcelona’s team whenever he plays. He is great at ball progression, as shown by the volume of progressive passes that he makes per 90. He lacks in terms of goalscoring, but more than makes up for it in his role as the creator of the team.
These numbers that he puts up regularly per 90 are awe-inspiring for a young attacking midfielder, and we shall look at his strengths, weaknesses, and playing style in a future report.
Kike Saverio – Left Winger
Kike is a winger that is great at playing with both legs, like Ousmane Dembele. He adds a dimension of pace and unpredictability and is fearless in facing wingers while dribbling. He also has a good passing range and is good vertically. His underlying statistics below shows his quality as an attacker. As he is young, his raw athleticism, the sheer pace, and strong confidence in his ability are important when going upwards to provide a creative and goalscoring option on the wings.
The more notable numbers are the number of offensive duels attempted per 90, and his dribbles attempted per 90. These are important attacking metrics for a winger, and the fact that he excels in these shows his quality for the future.
Sergio Akieme – Left-Back
Sergio Akieme is a full-back of Guinean descent playing at the Barcelona B level. He is an aggressive and attacking full-back that contributes a lot in terms of playmaking while going forward. As we have seen above in the scatter plots, he is a creative player and is shown by the number of key passes he makes per game and is good at ball progression as well.
The metrics above are crucial for an attacking full-back. These numbers that he puts up are perfect for a developing full-back, and we should expect to see more from him of this caliber.
The analysis above with data only gives us an outlook into their quality as a player. We will aim further to analyse the shortlisted three players in three different roles and explain their quality in future pieces.