What's next for Sergi Samper after his latest injury?


There is a faction of Barcelona fans that believe the team's midfield is at its best when La Masia products are pulling the strings. Adopted sons, like Ivan Rakitić and Seydou Keita, fight for respectability even after they've won Champions League trophies. Yet, there is a need for realism when evaluating which La Masia prospects will one day be part of the small fraction of players with a future in the first team. For example, Sergi Roberto is consistently praised for his perseverance, but had only become a mainstay after multiple years as a fringe player. It is hard to know which players are being patient and which players will unfortunately never make the grade. A player's quality and fit should always be the deciding factors for a player's potential at the club, but, on the rarest occasions, injuries can decide who is worthy.

From the time he was 13 years old and maybe even earlier, Sergi Samper was seen as the brightest La Masia gem in his age group. He's already showing up on clickbait lists of "players that didn't make it at Barcelona" alongside Adama Traoré and Gerard Deulofeu, but unlike the two attackers that clearly didn't yet have the finishing product necessary to thrive at the Camp Nou, it's hard to pinpoint what in Samper's skillset has hampered his success. Perhaps the truth is that there may not be an issue with his skillset, but rather the lack of opportunity to make the most of his abilities, stifled by his inability to stay on the field. Below is a list of the injuries that have kept him off the field in the last four seasons at Barcelona and both of his "failed" loans at Granada and Las Palmas.

Courtesy: transfermarkt.com

His latest injury, a calf injury, has set to sideline him until at least the start of December- this was a visibly crushing blow to the midfielder. Looking at Lionel Messi's quick return to training after an arm injury that was as gruesome-looking as it was emotionally devastating for the fan base; FC Barcelona's medical staff often gets players back on the field even earlier than the initial diagnosis. For a player to suffer the number of set-backs and longer than expected recoveries like Samper, it usually says more about the player's body than it does about the doctors' ability to treat him.

At 23-years-old, Samper is already at the age where he should nearly be a finished product. His two failed loans, partially due to the changing of managers during relegation fights and his own injury issues, he missed pivotal matches for his development. His chart of professional absences begs the question: has he ever truly been "in-form"? The start and stop nature of his training and career may have derailed any chance of him reaching the level necessary for Barcelona.

There will come a point in the near future where Samper will need to figure out not if Barcelona is his future, but if his body can handle the professional game enough for him to make a living on the field. Whether or not he has the ability to play for Barcelona will still be debated by Culés, but it seems that no one will know exactly what he's capable of if he's never on the field long enough to figure that out. Instead, both groups of fans are once again finding themselves uttering, "Ànims Samper".