La Masia: Nils Mortimer

The best indication of which La Masia prospects will rise to the top are those that are regularly called up to and play with the age group above their own. Already profiled Ilaix Moriba and Alejandro Orellana (who made his debut with the Barcelona B squad last weekend) are two examples in the midfield, and 17-year-old Nils Mortimer is a forward who has traversed a similar path.

Mortimer was born on June 11, 2001 in Málaga, Spain. After discovering his love of football on a beach as a youngster, his mother Rocio knew his future should be with a team. His first club at the age of four was local Andalusian side, La Mosca. Instead of getting picked up by Málaga, he was discovered by Sevilla and spent one year making the two and a half hour trip between the two cities. The distance would prove to be too demanding for the youngster, and he joined Málaga's youth academy. He reached the Infantil A level at Málaga before making the move to La Masia. Since his arrival in Catalonia, he has frequently gotten appearances with the age group above him and he currently finds himself in a talented Juvenil A squad under the direction of Denis Silva.

Mortimer has always had a close relationship with now-Barcelona B player Monchu and the 19-year-old mentored the younger forward while Juvenil A teammate Antonio Jesús and Juvenil B's Josep Juame Busquets are both good friends of the player.

A good indication that a young striker will make an impact at the highest level is his continued involvement with the youth national teams. Mortimer is a regular for the Spain U-17s, featuring for the squad back in May at the 2018 UEFA European U-17 Championships. While the team disappointed, falling 2-1 to Belgium in the quarter-finals, the winger played on both wings in three appearances. The highlight of his tournament was a start and a goal against Germany in a 5-1 win sandwiched between substitute appearances against Serbia and Belgium.

Predominately playing on the left wing, the 17-year-old has also played on occasion at centre-forward and on the right wing. After making the bench for the final five games of the tournament for Barcelona's UEFA Youth League winning side, he has taken on a starting role for this season's squad, playing alongside Monchu and Jesús. He has started three of the team's four matches in the competition so far, picking up an assist against PSV and a goal in the 2-1 win over Inter Milan in October.

After being called up and left on the bench for Barcelona B matches against Ontinyent CF on October 13th and CD Ebro on November 4th, he made his unofficial Barcelona B debut in the Copa Catalunya game against Sant Andreu alongside Juvenil A teammates Alejandro Marcos, Nico González and Sergi Serrano. Barcelona B lost 1-0, but Mortimer started alongside Ballou Tabla and Abel Ruiz in the attack and got an extended run-out under Francisco Javier García Pimienta. If his career up to this point is any indication, the Barcelona brass have to like what they see from the winger and his ability to succeed at each new level.