Barcelona fans around the world were left stunned following the news of Lionel Messi’s injury during the early stages of yesterday’s 2-1 win over Las Palmas.
The four-time Ballon d’Or winner will be sidelined for 7-8 weeks after tearing a ligament in his left knee. The diminutive forward may miss Barcelona’s next eight fixtures – with many hoping the Argentine will be able to return in time for the November 21 showdown with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
In the meantime, Barcelona’s formidable attacking unit will be one dynamic player short during the club’s upcoming domestic and European fixtures.
Club officials are hoping their decision to sell veteran forward Pedro to Chelsea will not haunt them this season. Prior to the player’s transfer, manager Luis Enrique had expressed his desire to hold on to the Spain international, in the event one of his preferred starters had fallen victim to injury or suspension.
Barcelona ultimately made the decision to sell Pedro because the veteran player desired more playing time ahead of next summer’s EURO 2016. And also, because the Catalan club is counting on 20-year-old phenom Munir El Haddadi to develop into the player many football experts believe is the next world class talent to come from La Masia.
Last season, Munir started the campaign as a key contributor to Luis Enrique’s side but eventually lost his starting position once Luis Suarez FIFA-imposed ban came to an end.
While Munir struggled in front of goal during the early part of the 2014-15 season, the youth academy product showed enough promise that club officials slapped a £28 million buy-out clause on him and refused to send the 20-year-old on loan – despite a host of European sides expressing a desire to take on the player.
Munir is considered one of the brightest football prospects in the world. He was part of the U19 squad which won the inaugural UEFA Youth League for Barcelona, scoring a brilliant goal in the final.
A few months later he was selected for La Blaugrana’s first-team by Luis Enrique, scoring on his La Liga debut against Elche; before later being called up to the Spanish national team by Vicente del Bosque, where he made his full debut in a game against Macedonia.
But Munir has found playing time difficult at Barcelona with the likes of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez ahead in the pecking order.
Yesterday, following the injury to Messi, the 20-year-old entered the match against Las Palmas and provided an assist on Suarez’s second goal.
While his overall performance lacked precision, Munir now has the next several weeks to prove that he belongs alongside Suarez and Neymar in Barcelona’s starting eleven.
Next up is a home game on Tuesday against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League, followed by an always difficult La Liga match on the road at Sevilla next Saturday.
Now is the time for Munir to step up and show his worth to the club.
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