One night last summer a group of excited Roma fans assembled at the city’s airport, as they often do, to welcome a new signing. The only problem was that signing, Malcom, never arrived. In what became one of the stories of the summer transfer window, the Brazilian winger was poached by Barcelona, leaving Roma, and their fans, disappointed.
Conspiracy theories bounced around over why Barcelona, a team already well-stocked with world class wingers, had made a move for Malcom. Some claimed that the Catalans had deliberately sabotaged Roma’s efforts to sign the Brazilian after their embarrassing exit to the Serie A outfit in the quarter finals of the Champions League the season before.
That seemed a little farfetched, but it was certainly true that Malcom arrived at Camp Nou without an obvious place in the team waiting for him. After all, Ousmane Dembele had nailed down the one vacant position in the Barcelona front three, with Philippe Coutinho also signed as the club’s most expensive ever player just a few months prior.
It was therefore unsurprising that Malcom barely featured over the first half of the season, having to make do with the odd cameo appearance late on off the bench. In fact, the Brazilian winger had to wait until November to be handed his first start for his new club. After that, he had to wait until late January for his second start.
Something has changed, though. Malcom is starting to make his mark at Barcelona. He is making the most of those late cameo appearances off the bench and with Dembele struggling through injury Ernesto Valvede has started to place his faith in the former Bordeaux player.
This was apparent in Barcelona’s trip to face Villarreal on Tuesday, a match that would ultimately finish 4-4 after a stunning fightback by the Catalans. With Lionel Messi rested from the start, the attacking onus was placed on Malcom. And he delivered, scoring once and assisting another in the opening 16 minutes.
Malcom has, in fact, played well almost every time he has come off the bench this season, it’s just that he is rarely given time to show what he can do. Now, the Brazilian seems to have earned the trust of Valverde and that could see him become a key figure for Barcelona between now and the end of the season.
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