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Sergi Roberto ready to take over Dani Alves as Barcelona's starting right-back

Being a dynasty isn’t without its problems. For the better part of a decade Barcelona has been one of the best teams in Europe, thanks in large part to the consistent influx of talent from La Masia (and some from transfers). But with all that talent comes a problem, one I’m sure Luis Enrique is happy to have.

There’s often not enough playing time to go around when you have the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets in the lineup. Hence the recent departures of players like Thiago, Gerard Deulofeu, and most recently Pedro to Champions League rival Chelsea.

All of this to say, it is refreshing to see 23 year old Sergi Roberto saying, “If I had left, I would have regretted it.” After considering offers from the EPL (rumors had him going to Stoke, possibly Everton), Roberto was ultimately persuaded by Luis Enrique to stay and is now a regular contributor to the squad to the tune of six starts in La Liga. 

As Thomas Müller recently said, the wages in the Premier League “are very tempting” even when coming a from a club like Bayern Munich, which gives some perspective as to what Roberto was potentially passing up.

Traditionally a midfielder, Roberto has been getting play at right back as well, proving to be a dynamic player down the right and taking on added his defensive responsibility with grace, though he still has room to improve. He has also shown that he can put in a good cross when required, as shown in the match against Las Palmas on a cross that found the head of Luis Suarez and ended up the back of the net.

Roberto has the potential to be the in house solution for the post-Dani Alves era at Barcelona. Alves had a great 2014-15 season, but at 32 years old he certainly can’t keep up his level of production much longer and at times his last ball in is lacking. 

Being a full back in Barcelona’s scheme requires an incredibly high level of fitness, as the position is just as integral to the attack as it is to the defense. Of course, he will face stiff competition from new signee Aleix Vidal when the transfer ban lifts in January, who has spent his career playing down the right side.

For the time being, it appears that Roberto is a rotational player. But there are a few reasons he needs to be given serious consideration (aside from his obvious talent) as a long term solution at right back.

Firstly, he is 23 years old, meaning he has the potential to be a major player at the club for most of the next decade. 

Second, as a home-grown product, Enrique needs to show that there is still room for La Masia graduates to move up the ranks, especially considering how much has been spent on transfers in recent years. 

Thirdly, Iniesta, Rakitic and Busquets don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon, meaning the midfield will remain crowded for at least the next 2-3 years depending on how Iniesta ages. 

Roberto was inclined to stay this past summer, but he may have felt differently in a couple of years if his situation hadn’t changed. While Luis Enrique and Cules all of the world would love to retain the depth of the squad, ultimately these players are competitive men. The promises of more playing time and better wages are difficult to turn down, to assume Roberto would feel any different would be foolish.

However, given the recent trust that the manager has put on him, it would be safe to say that, unless the situation changed dramatically, Sergi Roberto is here to stay.

By Jacob Rogers, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter @JacobRogersPC.

Can Sergi Roberto take over Dani Alves as Barcelona's starting right-back?


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