Barcelona’s fabled La Masia academy has failed to live up to its billing over the past couple of years.
In fact, Leo Messi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique to a degree and Jordi Alba to the same extent are the only remaining first-team members to have successfully gone through the transition from the academy setup to the senior squad at Camp Nou.
The lack of polished gems to be imported from the academy forced Barcelona to look elsewhere to solve their deficiencies and today we have Paulinho filling the void in the midfield, Ousmane Dembele slotting in as the Neymar replacement and Philippe Coutinho as a midfield conductor.
The latest addition of Yerri Mina, however, is arguably the biggest proof that Barcelona can no longer rely on La Masia when it comes to regular supply of top-notch talent.
The Colombian arrives earlier than planned due to Javier Mascherano’s imminent departure and could be involved to a much bigger extent than initially planned once the Argentine defender leaves for China.
First two weeks of the new 2018 brought plenty of changes at La Liga leaders Barcelona who appear to be welcoming the new dawn, and fans are most certainly hope that it’s going to be a prelude to bright days in Catalonia.
So what can we expect from Barcelona new signings – Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina?
Coutinho the Conductor
Barcelona headhunted former Liverpool star Coutinho for quite some time now and their persistent chase of the Brazilian is enough to illustrate the club’s need to pay for what could not have been produced.
With Andres Iniesta edging closer to his inevitable retirement and Leo Messi on the wrong side of his 30s, the Catalans needed someone who will pull the strings in the team the same way these two have been doing for the past decade (and more).
Coutinho is not expected to be given a role as free as he enjoyed at Liverpool, but his versatility will enable him to fit in a number of position at Barcelona.
Cup-tied for the Champions League challenges, Brazilian maestro will have plenty of time to get acclimatized to his new surroundings and to find his perfect place in the team. Coutinho is most likely to fill the void in the front three alongside Leo Messi and Luis Suarez but only if Valverde decides to get back to 4-3-3.
Barcelona boss altered his tactics a bit since Neymar left for PSG and with Luis Suarez and Messi spearheading the attack in a 4-4-2, Coutinho could be the tip of the diamond with Paulinho, Dembele and Busquets supporting him on the wings and from behind.
One thing is certain, Coutinho will provide Barcelona with extra creativity in the middle of the part and relieve Leo Messi of some of his duties – at the same time making Barcelona ever so more dangerous and unpredictable.
Mina the Minotaur
The 23-year-old Colombian Yerry Mina is what could be described a perfect Barcelona material.
Standing staggeringly tall at 1.95m, Yerry Mina should solve one of the biggest problems for Barcelona – aerials and high balls in the box.
This talented player was blessed with a lean physique and impressive athletic abilities that make him a fantastic modern-day defender who can do much more than just – well – defend. Mina is a kind of a player who likes to have the ball in his feet and bring it out of the backline.
More than occasional charges upfield are also his thing which worked well with his previous club(s). Yerry Mina comes to Barcelona with 197 competitive outings in all competitions amassed in Deportivo Pasto, Santa Fe and Palemiras, during which time he scored 22 goals.
Ernesto Valverde receives a quality solution in defense and a player who is capable of becoming a worthy supplement to Pique, Umtiti and revived Thomas Vermaelen. With the imminent departure of Javier Mascherano, the Catalan giants remain with four quality centre-backs at their disposal.
Yerry Mina established himself as a player who is difficult to beat in the air and who’s lightning fast across the field with his quick pace so it will be extremely interesting to see how long it will take before the Colombian challenges the first-choice defensive duo for a starting berth.
Barcelona resume La Liga campaign this weekend at Anoeta against Real Sociedad and can be found at 5/11 to claim another win and extend their unbeaten record.
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