La Masia: Kike Saverio

Unlike goalkeeper or centre-back, two positions where age and experience can extend a career like fine wine, wingers must oftentimes rely on athleticism, quickness and a confident naiveté of failure that usually comes with youth. At Barcelona, the pressure of already being a finished product when you arrive in the first team can be in direct conflict with that youthful exuberance that comes along with a prodigy on the wing. Carles Pérez, the 21-year-old winger for Barcelona B, is coming to a point in his career where he either breaks through like Cristian Tello and Isaac Cuenca or he immediately seeks a new challenge to continue his career like Gerard Deulofeu or Adama Traoré. 19-year-old Kike Saverio of Barcelona B is the next young winger who will meet that crossroads, but the Ecuadorian is still a season or two away from such a decision.

Javier Enrique Delgado Saverio, known better as Kike, was born June 19, 1999 in Genoa, Italy to Ecuadorian parents. Moving to Spain at a young age, he made major leaps in his development in the youth academy of UE Cornellá. In 2015, he joined a talented group of players at La Masia with Juvenil B, under the direction of Quique Álvarez at the time. Alongside the likes of Abel Ruiz and Riqui Puig, Saverio needed to work hard to keep up with his prodigious teammates.

Unfortunately for Saverio, injuries have derailed parts of his development in the last few seasons. On Barcelona's way to the UEFA Youth League title, Saverio did get starts against Olympiacos on two occasions, one that resulted in a goal and the another in an assist, and a start against Juventus. Not only did Barcelona win all three matches, but the Ecuadorian forward lined up as a centre-forward instead of his normal role on a wing. He was unable to participate in the knockout rounds however due to injury.

Despite his late season absence, he got the promotion to Barcelona B alongside many of his Youth League winning teammates. He also signed a new deal until 2020 over the summer, raising his release clause to 50 million euros. He started the current campaign off on the right foot, entering in as a substitute in three of the first four games of the season, starting the other against CE Sabadell. He would start in the next three games, scoring against UE Olot but unfortunately falling victim to the injury bug against Atlético Baleares. A hamstring injury that required surgery kept him out for three and a half months, but he has recently returned as a substitute in the team's last three league matches in Segunda B.

When healthy, he is adept with both feet, a quality that Ousmane Dembélé has proven is a valuable skill to possess. He may not have gotten into the recent Catalan Cup from his spot on the bench, but he has been practicing with the first team and could add some wing depth as early as next season.

As for his international accolades, he joined up with the Spain U-19s back in 2017 and made his international debut in a loss to Portugal. Most recently, he spent some time this past summer in camp with Ecuador's U-20s to face Colombia in friendlies. Since the match against Portugal was also a friendly, it's assumed that the player still has an option to play for either national side. If he does make an official international appearance for one of the sides as a youth, he could still follow a one-time switch to play for the other at the top level. That said, if he can remain healthy, it appears the sky's the limit for the 19-year-old left winger.