La Masia: Mateu Morey

A few months ago, not many fans of Barcelona knew who Senegalese right-back Moussa Wagué was, let alone were ready to anoint him as the next great right-back for the first team. After Barcelona B's captain Sergi Palencia was loaned to Bordeaux during the summer, any depth behind Sergi Roberto and Nelson Semedo suddenly looked quite thin. Wagué has been able to fill the void and Culés seem to have all but forgotten about the brightest star to shine at the position in recent years, Mateu Morey. Morey has battled injuries all season long and Barcelona are reportedly battling to keep him at the club; two major factors that put his future as one of La Masia's best in question.

Born March 2, 2000 in Petra, a town in Mallorca, Mateu Jaume Morey Bauzá has slowly made his ascent through the ranks at La Masia after moving from Mallorca's youth system to Barcelona's Juvenil B in July of 2015. Two years later he made the jump to Juvenil A and was expected to join Francisco Pimienta's Barcelona B in the Spanish third division at the start of the season. A knee injury suffered in the preseason kept him out until a few weeks ago when he again ruptured a ligament in his knee, putting him back on the shelf for what looks like the remainder of the season.

For those only following the Spanish youth teams, Morey's name should not be new. He made 20 appearances and scored three goals for the U-17s since September of 2016 and was a key contributor with the U-18s alongside Abel Ruiz and Juan Miranda last summer at the Mediterranean Games. This coming off a campaign where he played in five UEFA Youth League matches and added three assists, winning the 2018 title alongside Miranda, Ruiz, Riqui Puig and all the rest of that talented group.

After his showcase at the European U-17 Championship where not only did Spain take home the trophy but he contributed three goals and five assists in five matches, transfer speculation picked up for the young defender. There were strong reports last summer that the player was heading to Bayern Munich, with some rumors circulating that the deal was already done, but the player remained in Catalonia. This summer expect those rumors to be even stronger as the player is out of contract and negotiations between the club and player's agent don't appear to be progressing in a positive direction.

Like many youthful outside backs, the biggest area of necessary improvement lies in his one-on-one defending. He exhibits the best qualities of La Masia-trained talents, including astute passing, a willingness to join the attack and proper positioning when his team has prolonged possession. Unlike many of his midfield teammates, the right-back position in the first team has less depth and he could be closer to the first team than some others, but injuries and the arrival of Wagué, not to mention the potential of his exodus from the club, are new obstacles for the right-back to overcome.

Missing a whole season of action as a teenager with serious knee injuries, a season where it was expected he would star for Pimienta's Barcelona B squad, is a tough pill to swallow. However, the promise and expectations should remain high for the Mallorcan-born speedster as eight months of bad luck and frustration shouldn't be enough to right off a player that was at the top of so many La Masia lists for years prior. Vamos Mateu!