Fermin Lopez was someone many of us wouldn’t have even heard. Until we had the chance to watch him play on the US Tour during pre-season. There were a few reports stating that he had impressed Xavi in pre-season. Then, he earned his place on the US Tour. But few were prepared to watch him light our pre-season with a stunning cameo against Real Madrid.
In just 24 minutes Fermin Lopez showed maturity beyond his years on the pitch. He showed no fear in engaging in tackles. Also, running at the opposition, taking risk with the ball and contributing both going forward and defensively. He would go on to score a stunning goal from outside the box. Moreover, he provided an assist in the last minutes of the game.
Fermin’s performance against Real Madrid was arguably the highlight of our entire pre-season. He followed it up with an assist against spurs in the Joan Gamper game with only 10 minutes of time off the bench. This not only justified his presence on the US Tour but his case to stay in the first team.
Part of Xavi’s plans
Xavi would later confirm this by saying that Fermin Lopez wouldn’t go on loan. But he would stay with the first team for the upcoming season. This prompted a lot of excitement for Barça fans and rightfully. Barça we’re going into the campaign with a midfield full on wonderful interiors something that was lacking last season.
In addition having interiors like Fermin Lopez and Gündogan who both have a natural eye for goal and all over sudden it seems as if Barcelona have struck another diamond despite missing out on the signing of Arda Guler.
What will be Fermin’s role this season?
However there are some lingering concerns that remain over Fermin Lopez ahead of the new season. And these are not concerns with the player but rather with Xavi.
Barça so far have played three matches in La Liga this season and in both matches began with 4 midfielders. However, in the first two Fermin Lopez no minutes at all. After Pedri’s injury, Fermin came on as a sub against Villarreal.
I’m sure many Barça fans will remember the name of Pablo Torre. He arrived at Barça last season as one of the most exciting young talents in Spain. Many tipped him to achieve great things at Barça. Pablo Torre whenever given the chance played relatively well. He even scored a goal in the champions league against Viktoria Plzen.
But as the season advanced Xavi didn’t give Pablo Torre nearly enough minutes. Torre didn’t make himself a fixture in the team or even to make an impression. Not even when Barça were faced with injuries and needed a creative spark. Xavi never trusted Pablo Torre and ultimately left him fighting for scraps towards the end of the season.
New Pablo Torre role?
It’s no surprise the following season that Pablo Torre has now left on loan and is playing at Girona and in a short amount of time now has two other players fighting for an interior position.
One of them being a world class treble winner in Gundogan who’ll likely become a certain starter. The other is a new talent who’s burst onto the scene. It gets even worse when Barça are linked with players like Lo celso, a potential move for Bernardo Silva in 2024, or the rising of Noah Darvich or Alex Garrido.
It’s possible that the door will quickly become shut for Pablo Torre by the time he returns from loan. That is the harsh reality of playing for a club like Barcelona, as a young player you can be replaced quite easily and have your dream taken from you through no fault of your own at times.
This case of Pablo Torre is important to discuss because the same fate could await Fermin Lopez if he is not given a proper chance to stamp his authority in the first team and become a reliable squad player.
Pablo Torre deserved that chance and in many ways Xavi took it away from him. And so far Fermin Lopez in 2 games where 4 midfielders have been used, to not get a single minute is concerning.
Fermin Lopez has time to impress
Now it’s important to acknowledge that we have a very long season ahead of us and two games on the bench will not define the future of Fermin Lopez. That being said young players need playing time and continuity in order to build confidence and develop as players.
We’ve seen what can happen to the likes of Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati when they aren’t trusted with regular minutes and we’ve seen what a mental reset and confidence can do to these players.
Fermin Lopez enters a situation where he’s constantly got to prove himself just to get on the pitch and once there he’s got to do even more to try and fight for continuity in the next fixture.
With Xavi still trying to get his best midfield figured out and jelling it might be tough for Fermin Lopez to get minutes in this early part of the season.
If he feels he’s not counted on that could hurt his confidence only leading to more pressure being placed on him every time he sets foot on the pitch. If Fermin Lopez is to have a future at Barça both in the short and long term then it falls on Xavi not to make the same mistakes he made with Pablo Torre and give him the minutes he needs to grow as player and prove himself in this Barça team.
Of course it’s also up to Fermin Lopez to perform when called upon but with the talent and work ethic he’s displayed for Barça so far. I have no question he’ll strive to grab these opportunities with both hands when they arrive.