Five Players Hughes Could Add to Our Barcelona Contingent
Mark Hughes’ Barcelona contacts have proven very useful since he took over Stoke back in the Summer of 2013. Marc Muniesa’s arrival from Camp Nou was the first of a wave of ex-barca-boys who made the decision to join him at the West Midlands side. The success of these amigos begs the question; who next?
Marc Bartra, 25, has been playing for Barcalona since he was 11. The central defender has struggled to find a place in the starting line-up and has occasionally been linked with a move away from the club. Bartra has made nine full appearances for Spain, and a further 37 at youth team levels.
He could provide good cover for Ryan Shawcross who seems like he has a recurring back problem. Barcelona are said to want around 12-million for the defender who may be looking for more game time given his age.
Munir, still only 20, plays generally as a striker but is also used on the right wing. He is Barcelona’s third youngest goal-scorer after none other than our own Bojan Krkic and some lad called Lionel Messi. He was nominated for the Golden Boy Award in 2014 and has been slowly integrated to the main side from the Barcelona B-side.
His 15 league appearances this season have seen him score three goals, which all came in one match in the absence of Luis Suarez. His pace could challenge any Premier League outfit, and could provide good competition for Shaqiri, even if only on loan.
Sergio Roberto, 24, is a versatile central midfielder who has been known to also play as a full-back or winger. Since rumoured interest from both Stoke and Bayer Leverkusen before Christmas, Luis Enrique has been playing the academy graduate more frequently in both the league and the cup competitions.
Understandably though its very difficult to displace the likes of Andres Iniesta so a loan move could benefit both parties if the Spanish club have plans for him in the future.
Alen Halilovic, 19, is another bright Barcelona youngster who has struggled to find a regular place in the first team. Halilovic is currently on loan at Sporting Gijon where he has scored three goals in 28 appearances as an attacking midfielder.
The Croatian national, who spent his youth career at Dinamo Zagreb, was close to joining West Ham last year for around £6 million but the deal fell through. His good eye for a pass and ability to get forward could give Stoke a good attacking option.
The least well known of the lot, Sandro, 20, joined Barcelona’s youth setup in 2009. Like Munir, Sandro plays mainly as a striker but can be used as a winger. He scored in his first-team debut after coming on for Pedro.
His scoring record for the Spanish national youth sides is exceptional, finding the net 19 times in 24 games between the levels of under-16 and under 21. With a good bit of game time, he could be the perfect sort of player to compete with Stokes strike force that has been occasionally criticised throughout the season.
Written by Thomas Hammersley
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