Can Munir El Haddadi continue to progress at Barcelona?

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Many supporters watching on at the Camp Nou wouldn't have been surprised at the ease with which Munir El Haddadi integrated himself into Luís Enrique's side in Sunday's 3-0 win against Elche.

The 18-year-old had clearly outgrown his Barcelona B team-mates last season, whilst his form in the Uefa Youth League highlighted him as arguably the best player to graduate from La Masia since Sergio Busquets debuted in 2008.

However, before getting carried away with Munir's obvious talent, it is worth considering how his immediate development at the Camp Nou will progress, given he is fighting with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Pedro and Neymar for a first-team spot, not to mention Gerard Deulofeu, Sandro Ramirez and Adama Traore.

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Career Stalling  

There is always the danger at any big club of a young footballer's career stalling after an encouraging breakthrough, just ask Sergi Roberto! Bojan would be the obvious example of a gradual decline, having initially broken Lionel Messi's record as the youngest ever first-team debutant. 

Gai Assulin was another discussed in the same vein as Messi, with the hype stoked when he appeared for Israel aged just sixteen.

However, injuries and competition for first-team places in the Barcelona B side, let alone the first-team squad meant he was released from Barça without making a senior appearance.

At 23-years-old he is now attempting to rebuild his career at Mallorca, following unsuccessful spells with Manchester City, Brighton, Racing Santander, Granada and Hércules.

Mauro Icardi is reaping the benefits of leaving Barcelona at an early age. He spent three years at La Masia, but left to join Sampdoria in 2011, convinced his future would be better served by regular first-team football. Now an Argentinian international, scoring regularly for Inter Milan, and linked with the likes of Real Madrid and Atlético, it would seem the decision was the right one.

Transfer Ban

Barcelona's policy of recruiting from the B team when a position became available in the first-team squad under Pep Guardiola led to the integration of Busquets and Pedro, and whilst the club have veered away from this mantra under different managers, their impending transfer ban should see Enrique return to this philosophy.  

Enrique's experience managing the B side would have been a major factor in the former Celta boss gaining the job, given Barça won't be able to sign players until January 2016 once the current transfer window slams shut. 

Therefore Munir has a major advantage that the likes of Bojan, Assulin and Icardi didn't have. Aside from his enormous level of skill, the 18-year-old will be given the chance to shine, especially during Luis Suarez's absence. 


Despite the ban, Munir faces as uphill struggle to become a regular first-team player at Barcelona. When Suarez returns, Munir will realistically be fourth choice for a role as striker, behind the Uruguayan, Messi and Neymar. This is by no means a bad position for an 18-year-old to be in, but the issue is that it isn't likely to change in the coming seasons. 

He will likely see a lot of his playing time in the wide-left role, as an understudy to Neymar, which in turn puts a cloud over Rafinha's place in the squad. Enrique made room for the Brazilian on Sunday, but with a fully fit front line it is difficult to see him getting regular game time. 

It is now up to Munir to continue to grasp his opportunity, as Bojan, Martin Montoya, Cristian Tello, Giovani Dos Santos, Jeffrén, Assulin and Roberto failed to do. Talent is expected when you play for Barcelona, but the drive and determination to fight for your first team place on a consistent basis is what's needed to truly succeed. 

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