A Barca colleague wrote not so long ago about this issue, and the irony of the rare events that passed in recent games brought us to this present opportunity: Now is the time for Sergi Samper to be promoted.
Barça’s squad now seems to have more depth in quality in certain areas more than others. It’s a day to be proud of when we have a surplus of quality defenders and goalkeepers to pick from. It’s a rarity however for Barça’s midfield to be lacking the proper depth. From Xavi’s farewell to Arda Turan’s registration, the Catalan club finds itself in a difficult situation. Rakitić and Iniesta have formed a beautiful partnership, but the two cannot play every game until 2016. And while Rafinha at times looked promising – or at least more promising than Sergi Roberto – in midfield, the truth is that neither player adds an exclusive attribute to the team. Signs of magic here and there, both players remain in the learning curve – even though one of them already earned his first cap with.
With that in mind, one can look at how the Munir-Sandro combination within the squad has fared. Both use one another to learn more and to compete. Understudies of the greatest attack line in the world. But when a pearl like the long-nosed Samper is left to rot in the third division, this is just a waste of talent. Samper has already missed out on playing with the club’s greatest midfielder of all-time and looks likely to miss out on his Ol’ pale partner in crime as well if things remain as they are.
The Sergi Roberto experiment in midfield has already been tried and failed. That’s not to say we should give up on the lad – of course not! Fall 99 times, stand up for the 100th. However, with Rafinha out for so long, and Sergio Busquets out to reign his position for the next 60 years, Samper could be well integrated in that position given his quality distribution and striking vision of the game. Samper is the embodiment of football intelligence I believe Rafinha lacks. Having him alongside Sergi Roberto to compete for that role – that is, if Roberto ever goes back to playing in midfield again – will ultimately bring the best out of the two, taking away the pressure of just filling missing stars on the pitch but rather add certain aspects missing in the squad. Samper has long been hailed to succeed at Barça, and unlike his former teammates who’ve been weighed down irremediably with the same expectations, the younger Sergi was always the more grounded of the young lot.
Leaving him in third division, playing with a team that has no desire to compete or win, will ultimately spell Samper’s doom. Luis Enrique has known this all along, and might even choose the odd selection of Gumbau based on his squad rosters this season. And while I’ve come to fully trust the Asturian once and for all after a brilliant treble-winning year, I am curious on whether the Samper situation will be dealt with accordingly or ignored completely. Your move Lucho.