Ben Lederman’s road to a permanent academy home has been long, winding and strewn with incomparably large boulders. But at least for now, he seems to have landed back where it all started.
Lederman is officially back at Barcelona.
La Masia is so jam-packed with quality that to hear one of its coaches speak glowingly about an individual is almost jarring.
When it’s lunar-sized center forward prospect Pablo Moreno, you understand.
Carles Martínez coaches Barcelona’s Infantil A side, one of the club’s most important in a developmental sense at the U15 age group, and he recently sat down with Grup 14 to talk shop after his move from Espanyol. The discussion almost immediately turned to Moreno, who’s scoring return the last three years has been frankly ridiculous for anyone, let alone a child.
This is what Martínez had to say.
“Pablo is very good. He’s the most competitive player I have ever trained. It’s that drive that makes him special. I admire him because he’s always on the spotlight yet he takes it very well and calm. I’m very pleased with the change he’s doing in his control abilities. If he can succeed in that, which he is doing, he has a bright future although he has to take it step by step.”
Two years ago Moreno bagged 72 goals in 27 games for Barca’s seven-a-side Alevín A. Last year he bagged 41 in his first jump up to the Infantil group. This season? Moreno has been the leading scorer across the entire academy with a staggering 66 goals. He scored 28 in his first seven games of the year. For the math wizards among us, that’s 179 goals in three seasons. Are you hearing this.
The Spanish striker tore up the English Premier League for Liverpool from 2007-2011, scoring 81 times in 142 games. He moved to Chelsea in 2011 for £50 million, where he’s suffered a huge drop off in form over the past few years.
Tuesday’s game against Barcelona provided a chance for Torres to announce himself to a huge audience once again. And he certainly did.
But not in a way he would’ve liked.
The day before Barcelona’s Round of 16 encounter with Arsenal on Tuesday at the Emirates, Gatorade pulled the cover off an advert that belongs in a hall with the all-time good ones. It didn’t quite creep into the discussion with the all-time greats, but it stacks up favorably with the rest of the field.
Just check out that screenie. Real stuff.
Barcelona won another game on Sunday. If that seems boring to you (it kind of is!), consider it was 6-0 over Athletic Bilbao, which will probably not reach Europe this year but which is still pretty good. Barcelona made them look like an NPSL team. So there you go.
The predictable boredom in Barcelona’s results (typically, anyway) is often mitigated by the things that actually happen in those games. They have a few good players, after all. On Sunday, Neymar gave us another bite of manna from the halls of Thor.
You may remember (YOU SHOULD ANYWAY) the petition Seattle-area club Crossfire brought forth to FIFA in an effort to generate compensation for DeAndre Yedlin’s sale to Spurs. It’s a seminal moment in youth soccer development in America. The trickle-down effect these sales have on lower clubs can ultimately help break the shackles of pay-to-play. At the very least, they’ll lower costs while the money begins is slow filter downward.
As it is, MLS doesn’t reward clubs with compensation. But what does that look like practically in places that do? We got a tangible taste of that this week when Pedro was sold from Barcelona to Chelsea for £23m. And it was glorious.
And while the merits of these games can be hotly debated, Eden Hazard jolted the game to life in the first half with a scintillating goal in the tenth minute.
The champions of England and the Spanish treble winners put on a show in front of a packed house of almost 79,000 fans, a sea of Messi, Neymar jerseys dotted between Chelsea’s familiar blue kit. Despite the exhibition nature of the match, both sides created plenty of scoring chances on the way to a 2-2 draw after Hazard tallied early in the game.