It took Sergi Roberto an age to break through at Barcelona, but thanks to his persistence and utter belief in what he had to offer, eventually all of his hard work paid off.
For a few years now, Roberto has been a member of the first-team squad, and because of his versatility, he’s rarely left out of the starting XI when Ernesto Valverde is putting his team together.
Steeped in Blaugrana, and the last La Masia graduate to truly make an impact in the senior side, Sergi has become something of a standard bearer for all subsequent academy players at the club.It’s perhaps with that in mind that Valverde keeps picking him when he’s fit.
That’s not to say he isn’t worthy of a spot per se, but that certain other players can offer something different/better when needed.
That versatility already mentioned is becoming just as much of a hindrance as a help.
Ostensibly an attacking midfielder, there’s no real space for him in the position when the likes of Arthur and Arturo Vidal are both playing.
Therefore the only other sensible option, if Valverde wants to retain him in the XI, is to put him at right-full-back.
However, with Nelson Semedo doing well in his natural role, it means Roberto having to settle for a reserve spot there too.
It’s almost as if he’s not doing justice to his jack of all trades tag, not doing enough to lock down a permanent position in one area or the other. So the question really does need to be asked. Is Sergi Roberto in danger of losing his place?
You get the feeling that Josep Maria Bartomeu will do everything in his power to stop that from happening.
Famously a two-tier poster rained down on the Camp Nou emblazoned with the words ‘No es toca’ and pictures of La Masia’s finest. The wording roughly translates to ‘Do not touch.’
The inference to other clubs regarding their young talent was blindingly obvious: Hands off!!
With that came an inference that Barcelona would be top of the pile when it comes to promoting youth, but that’s not really the case now when you see how little time La Masia grads have had on the pitch.
Indeed, the unthinkable as far as Barcelona are concerned, is happening, and players are jumping ship for further opportunities.
A lot have headed to inferior teams, with the greatest respect, but some are happy to go to the likes of Manchester City, Monaco et al, with no guarantee of success, but a promise of regular playing time.
If Roberto can’t ensure that he becomes a regular first choice, he might well be joining them.
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