Promising Barcelona talent threatens to leave

Martin Macdonald
Alex Collado scores for Barcelona against Gimnastic

Barcelona are facing the prospect of losing one of their most talented young players after Alex Collado threatened to leave.

The Blaugrana took part in their first pre-season match of the summer on Wednesday when they faced Gimnastic.

They won 4-0, and although there were plenty of senior players on the pitch initially, it was two youth stars in Collado and Rey Manaj who scored the goals, with the latter scoring a hat-trick.

Having switched allegiances from Espanyol as a youngster, Collado has developed in La Masia over the last decade to become an extremely promising player.

At 22 years old, however, he will soon need to decide if there is a route to the Barcelona first team available.

He made his first team debut under Ernesto Valverde in the 2018/19 season and also featured once in 2019/20 under Quique Setien.

However, he has not yet played a competitive league game under Ronald Koeman, who took over as head coach last summer.

Collado insists if he cannot receive assurances over playing time, he will leave.

"I'm not going to play with the subsidiary (Barcelona B)," he said after the defeat of Gimnastic.

"Either I'll stay in the first team or I'll leave, but my priority is to fight to stay here, but I don't know. it can't rule out anything either."

Collado is currently the captain of Barca B, and scored eight goals in 21 appearances in Segunda Division B last season.

Either I'll stay in the first team or I'll leave
- Alex Collado

Koeman's praise of Barca youngsters

At the moment for Barcelona there are still plenty of internationals who are on holiday following Euro 2020 and the Copa America, meaning that Koeman is having to rely on a number of young stars currently before the senior players return.

Against Gimnastic, he fielded the following line-up:

Neto; Dest, Pique, Umtiti, Martinez; Roberto, Pjanic, Puig; Demir, Escobar, Jimenez

While there was plenty of experience on show, the likes of Jordi Escobar Fernandez, Alex Balde and started the match Carlos Javier Polo Jiménez or 'Peque'.

Off the bench came Arnau Comas, Santiago Ramos Mingo, Hiroki Abe, Gavi, Matheus Pereira, Moussa Ndiaye, Nils Mortimer, Rey Manaj, Igor Gomes, Alex Collado and Inaki Pena.

Although not naming specific names, Koeman was happy with how his youngsters carried themselves.

“It is important that they have played all 45 minutes," the Dutchman said after the win.

"There have been two different parts, with Nastic playing with ten. It's a good result and there are very positive things.

“Everyone has come back well and we have trained hard. It is our first game and we have to catch the fitness.

"Everyone has been able to highlight their quality, especially the young players, although I will not give names.

"It was a good game and I have to admit that it was a bit strange to see the fans in the stadium, luckily things are beginning to return to normal."