Football

Should Barcelona curb Munir El-Haddadi's meteoric rise?

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Just six short months ago, Munir El-Haddadi was playing for Barcelona's Juvenil A (U19) side.

Fast forward to the first international weekend of the 2014/15 season and here we have Barca's new star with a first-ever call up to the Spanish U21 side, followed just a few days later with a promotion to the senior side in the absence of the injured Diego Costa.

For a player that was under the radar to many outside of the club, that's a meteoric rise by anyone's standards.

And he continues to impress everyone around him.

Even Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque was moved to defend his choice in the face of Spanish media surprise. Per AS via Football Espana, the Marquis noted to reporters: “It was a logical and natural solution [to call-up Munir].”

Logical to call up a 19-year-old with just two La Liga games and a handful of pre-season appearances at senior level under his belt?

As the development of others at Barcelona stagnates, you've got to hand it to Munir for taking his chance with both hands. But isn't all a bit too much, too soon?

Next big thing?

After all, football is littered with stories of players who were going to be the "next big thing" for their employers, only to turn out to be anything but.

Dreams turned sour because of the instant gratification required by clubs and fans alike.

Barca themselves have a player in Jean-Marie Dongou whose own rise has slowed down immeasurably since he burst onto the scene.

Still only 19 and developing as a centre forward, he probably would've made steady progress toward a first team berth were it not for a handful of standout performances that had everyone sit up and take notice.

Even Sky Sports' La Liga expert Graham Hunter told totalBarca at the time: “I saw Messi at sixteen but Dongou from Cameroon is the best footballer at sixteen I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Pressure and expectation

The pressure and expectation to then deliver in each and every game - as a 16 year old don't forget - will have become a burden rather than a pleasure.

That Dongou has slipped back quietly down the pecking order means little. He is still proving more than a handful in the Segunda division for Barca B and if anything is probably enjoying his football more, away from the glare of the wider media.

Munir is hot right now, everyone wants a piece of him. Even if he appears to be taking it all in his stride, to again allow such unbelievable pressure to be so quickly bestowed on young shoulders is taking a risk.

Quiet and ineffective

Of course, anyone with Munir's skill set will rise to the top eventually, and Luis Enrique's faith in youngsters is well documented. However, a perfect example of what awaits El-Haddadi came against Villarreal.

After his debut goal and performance against Elche, the sense of disappointment in Munir's hour-long cameo against the Yellow Submarine was evident. Commentators on social media described El-Haddadi as "quiet" and "ineffective."

Oddly enough a player with only 90 first team minutes behind him in competitive action prior to the match actually had a reasonable game. It went largely unnoticed because it didn't fit the narrative.

And therein lies the issue.

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Topics:
Barcelona
Football
La Liga

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