La Masia: Iñaki Peña


In its history, Barcelona has not produced as many top level Spanish goalkeepers as they have other positions, but Iñaki Peña could someday join the likes of Antoni Ramallets and Víctor Valdés.

Born on March 2, 1999 in Alicante, the southern region of the Valencian Community, five-year-old Peña joined his local club Alicante CF. By the age of ten in 2009, he was scouted by Villarreal and brought to their club. After six years in the youth academy, Yellow Submarine, he made the move to Catalonia and joined La Masia in 2015. He signed up with the Infantil A squad and won the league during his first season with the club. Since then, Peña has been noticed by other big clubs and received numerous offers that he turned down to stay with Barcelona.

Generally, young goalkeepers make a name for themselves during penalty kick shootouts. Peña's best performance so far was when he stopped six penalty kicks and scored the winner goal himself against Atletico Madrid at the Torneo Internacional Reino de Leon. More recently, in the UEFA Youth League, Peña helped Barcelona to win the title and recorded eight shutouts while conceding just six goals total in the ten games.

While winning a major tournament has eluded him at youth level, he has featured regularly for Spanish youth teams, including 17 appearances for the U-17s and six and counting for the U-19s with cameos with the U-16s and U-18s.

As expected of any La Masia-produced goalkeeper, Peña is adept with his feet and his all-around game seems to be the quality that sets him apart from other net-minders his age. Rather than simply relying on his size and height, as many young keepers tend to do, he has a reputation for utilizing his agility and decision-making to get himself out of trouble. Teammates seem to trust him in the air and making the safe choice, a positive for a teenage goalkeeper. The aforementioned success in penalty kicks seems to be icing on the cake.

While he will be competing with 22-year-old Jokin Ezkieta and fellow 19-year-old Lazar Carevic for the starting keeper role with Barcelona B, the prevailing notion is that the job will eventually belong to Peña once he is able to recover from an injury from early season preparations. The two first team positions in net are already taken by international stars, but if he has patience and fulfills most of his incredible potential, Iñaki Peña could join some of his current Barcelona B compatriots as important pieces of Barcelona's future.