With every football writer and his father declaring the irresponsible folly of Barça’s short squad, as if a transfer embargo isn’t in place, it would be logical that Luis Enrique’s rotations make their season debut. With 5 matches scheduled in the next 14 days, I’d argue that begin tomorrow and that it do so with Sandro Ramírez.
The argument is two-fold. Firstly, if Levante (currently win-less) at home isn’t a fixture Sandro can be called upon, then there is no point in having him on the first team. The sale of Pedro Rodríguez was a mixture of an offer too good to refuse and Pedro’s interest in moving on, but included within it was also an implicit approval from Lucho that those breaking through were ready to be blooded. While not the joke competition it’s made out to be, Levante will not enter Camp Nou on a level playing field as the home side. Levante operate on a 32 million euro budget compared to Barça’s half billion. Levante players earn on average below 10,000 euros a week whilst the average blaugrana pulls in 125,000 euros in the same period. Douglas makes four times more than the average Levante player. To return to the point, if Levante at Camp Nou is not the team and place for Luis Enrique to see what value Sandro can bring to the team then who is the team and when is the time? Last season Pedro played 1,531 minutes in the league, starting in precisely this type of fixtures, its time Sandro starts making a dent in that.
Secondly, the congested fixtures combined with questionable pre-season fitness preparation means it’s the appropriate time to put the squad to work. On Wednesday Barça travel to 3rd place Celta Vigo, a ground and opposition that would merit full torque. Now, I could have written this article next Saturday too arguing that Sandro start against Las Palmas at home after 2 games in the past week and another to come midweek in the Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen before a tricky trip to Sevilla four days post that.
The crux to Sandro starting against either Levante or Las Palmas is a matter of point one. I simply do not see the point of including the striker in the first team and giving him no first team experience. Confidence plays its part here too. Giving him game time breeds hunger and fosters a sense of belief that patience and effort in training can come with the reward of game time. And though we know Sandro won’t be anywhere near the team sheet in games of consequence, certain unforeseen circumstances in the near future might force Luis Enrique into just that decision. I know Sandro would believe in his ability to make an impact far more with a few La Liga goals to his name rather than match after match of meaningless bench side viewing. Ultimately it simply cannot be seen that starting without one of the MSN monster is deemed too risky to take teams of Levante’s caliber on. So, come on Lucho, let’s see if the kid is alright.