La Masia: Carles Pérez


Being a winger at Barcelona is a little different than being a winger at another club. If you are a mercurial talent like a young Lionel Messi was, getting inside and combining with teammates to make yourself a goal threat is engrained in you from a young age. But maybe, you're more like Pedro, a player without all the promise of Messi but still with the skills and work rate to play for Barcelona. Pedro was tasked with stretching the field, timing his runs to get behind the defense and helping defend on the wings with constant efficiency. Barcelona B's Carles Pérez profiles as more a Pedro than a Messi at the top level, but reaching the levels of the Spanish winger still mean a long career at some of the biggest clubs in the world.

Carles Pérez Sayol was born February 16, 1998 in the city of Granollers, less than an hour away from the Camp Nou. Pérez began his career at the age of five for local side CF Vilanova de la Roca before moving to CF Damm in 2006. His play at the prestigious Catalan youth academy earned him a shot at RCD Espanyol where he remained for four seasons. He was finally joined La Masia in July of 2012 and joined up with Cadet A.

He progressed at a promising pace, using his speed and patent left foot to come in from the right wing to put in a ball into the box or finish a play himself. He made enough of an impression on the staff and Gerard López to make his debut for Barcelona B in October of 2015 in the third division against Atlético Levante. That year he also featured heavily in the UEFA Youth League, starting five games and recording two assists in the Round of 16 against FC Midtjylland. Meanwhile, he made his debut for the Spain U-16s and U-17s in 2014, with appearances at the European U-17 Championship in May of 2015.

Pérez couldn't break back into Barcelona B in the 2016-17 season, but he did contribute three goals and two assists to the UEFA Youth League effort. The following season, alongside Alejandro Marqués and Abel Ruiz at the top of the attack, he scored seven goals and added an assist in a side that captured the UEFA Youth League trophy. While he was excelling on the right wing with the Youth League side, the Catalan winger also made 27 appearances in the Segunda División for Barcelona B, scoring three goals and picking up two assists.

Having largely evaded the injury bug for most of his career, the 21-year-old finally succumbed to some ailments this season that kept him on the shelf for parts of the season. He recovered from an ankle injury and a separate muscle injury to make 26 appearances for Barcelona B in the third division, scoring nine goals and collecting four assists. Of those nine goals, three of them were scored against fellow Catalan side CE Sabadell in January. He capped his season off by making his La Liga debut against Eibar, coming in on the left wing for the final 17 minutes of the match.

In total, Carles Pérez has made 63 appearances with 18 goals and 10 assists at right wing and 14 appearances with four goals and one assist on the left wing. He may have made his debut at first team level on the left wing, but make no mistake; the Catalan is much more effective on the right side of the field. His contract runs through 2020, and the club may soon have a decision to make about the future of the 21-year-old. He is clearly good enough to excel as a first team player somewhere, but will it be at Barcelona? Hopefully Pérez gets his shot to prove that it will at the Camp Nou.