Has Rey Manaj managed to save his Barça career? Though in an insignificant preseason fixture, the Albanian’s hat trick against Gimnàstic on his unofficial first team debut has certainly forced the board to reconsider his future. So what does it realistically hold for him?
Manaj has never been a particularly popular figure among the fans. Since his arrival in January 2019, he has kept improving. He would eventually become the top scorer of the subsidiary in 20/21. Nevertheless, he lacks of significant involvement in other aspects apart from those concerning the final third. Moreover, they say he has a questionable character. Therefore, the club never considered him as an option for the first team.
The board’s willingness to earn some money thanks to the sale of Rey Manaj is therefore justified. Still young and a brilliant goalscorer, he attracted some interest in Spain and Portugal. But before any deal could be finalised, Manaj produced a brilliant performance in his debut for the senior Barça side. He displayed his pure predator’s killer instincts. Whether that alters Joan Laporta’s plans on Rey’s continuity remains unknown. But the 24-year-old has certainly made a big statement.
To me, Rey Manaj is not the forward that Barcelona needs. His contribution in the build-up and the associative game remains minimal, despite a clear improvement. Staying with the subsidiary would be pointless, but a loan move could be what Manaj was looking for. If the board’s decision is unchanged, then we might at least extract an even bigger fee for the Albanian.