- Barcelona B are currently in a relegation battle in the Spanish second division
- Barca have signed five young players this month in a bid to avoid the drop
- Arsenal midfielder Marcus McGuane swapped the Emirates for the Nou Camp
- Signing a young English player represents a positive change for Barcelona
Barcelona’s capture of 18-year-old Arsenal midfielder Marcus McGuane this week was part of a five-player signing spree designed to prevent their B team being relegated from the Spanish second division.
It also represented a major role reversal, with the club more accustomed to losing their best young players to the Premier League.
Barca B are currently only out of the drop zone in Spain’s second division on goal difference and relegation will have dire consequences on a club that always struggles to keep hold of its best young players.
Marcus McGuane left Arsenal to join Barcelona on an initial three-year contract this week
The drop in standard between the competitive second division and the four regional third tier divisions is huge and young players will have more desire than ever to leave a club that already offers few routes to first team football.
But in the flurry of signings, McGuane’s move still stands out from the other four players they have brought in.
Ivory Coast born Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla is a Canadian youth player arriving from the MLS; Christian Rivera arrives from Spanish club Eibar; Nahuel Leiva is an Argentine from Villarreal; and Martin Hongla is a Cameroon youth international at Granada.
Barcelona are used to scouting the rest of Spain but dipping into the English market has been the beyond them, mainly because they cannot compete in terms of the contracts they can offer or the likely route to the first team.
For that reason English clubs have benefited from the talent drain at Barca with Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin two deals that involved Arsenal and still rankle with the Catalan club. McGuane is the first high profile youngster to move in the other direction.
Barca B coach Gerard Lopez wants to use the England Under 19 international in the holding midfield role. The club also see him as a player who could develop into a centre back in time and they have slapped a £22.5million buy-out clause on him.
Supporters have welcomed a signing they see as part-revenge for the players they have lost to the Premier League. But many are mystified at the sudden about-turn in the transfer market with a young English talent heading to the Spanish second division.