This article is part of Football FanCast’s In The Pipeline series, which takes a look at some of the most promising young talent either linked with clubs or emerging from their academies…
For quite some time now, one of Barcelona’s biggest concerns has been the question of the right-back position. Should it be occupied by Nelson Semedo or Sergi Roberto? A player with defensive issues or a player with attacking issues? Neither solution seemed ideal so Ernesto Valverde played them both.
Sometimes Roberto would start and sometimes it would be Semedo’s turn.
But this year, it was supposed to be different. This year, Barcelona would finally have their go-to right-back without any question.
The spot would belong solely to the Portuguese and this was already evident in the first three games Blaugrana played as the Spaniard featured in the middle of the pitch rather than in defence.
But Valverde seems to be forgetting that he also has a third option available: the young 20-year-old Moussa Wague, who was just recently officially promoted to the senior team.
He is still eagerly waiting for his chance to shine and unfortunately for him, the last game against Osasuna might have been a clear sign that Valverde doesn’t really count on him, for now at least.
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Wague wasn’t called up for the first two games in Barcelona’s new 2019/20 La Liga season and when he finally joined the squad on their trip to Pamplona to face Osasuna, he remained chained to the bench.
Usually, this wouldn’t be such a worrying thing. After all, he’s a newly promoted young defender with no real experience with the senior team and Barcelona also faced a tricky opponent. So in that way, Valverde does have an excuse of a sort. But what is worrying is what happened on the stroke of half-time.
Semedo was extremely poor in that game and he had to be substituted at half time. But instead of looking at Wague, who’s a natural replacement, Valverde decided to slot Roberto back into the right-back position, despite him clearly being just a make-shift defender. Wague sat patiently on the bench, pondering when his opportunity would arise.
Granted, it would’ve been a tough game for the 20-year-old to make his debut in the new campaign, but what kind of a message does this send to him?
If Semedo performs and impresses the coach, he will undoubtedly play; if he fails and is poor, Valverde will just put Roberto back into the fold despite the fact it’s not a natural position for him.
Either way, Wague can’t seem to win and Valverde is wasting the potential of such a talented young right-back. If he had no intention of playing Wague even when Semedo was withdrawn, then why pull him out of the B team?
We’ll have to wait and see what happens with him in the future but, so far, it seems that Valverde is very much missing a trick with a high-potential player who could bring something new to the table.