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Just a wonderkid factory!

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Surely they can’t keep getting away with it?! Do Barcelona actually have all the best young midfielders in Spain in their academy? Guillermo Fernandez’s emergence lends credence to that outlandish theory.

The 15-year-old central midfielder has broken Lamine Yamal’s record for being the youngest player to ever debut for their B team with his appearance against Osasuna B.

He debuted at the age of 15 years, 9 months, and 12 days, surpassing Yamal’s debut age by 11 days. Considering the heights Yamal has climbed to since that fateful debut, it is fair to say that the expectations are high for Fernandez.

Who is Guillermo Fernandez?

Guillermo Fernandez is a 15-year-old Central Midfielder who plays for Barcelona’s U18s and now their B team. He joined Los Cules at the age of 10 from rivals Espanyol in 2018. So quick was his rise that only his young age left the coaches unable to promote him too quickly too soon.

By 2023, he was already on tour with the U18s side. His head-to-head with Yamal’s progression continued, as he became Barcelona’s second-youngest player to debut in the UEFA Youth League only after, you guessed it, Yamal.

He made his debut for Spain U17s in October of 2023 and after nine caps, already stands at six goals, showing just how above his age level his talent is already at.

This was quickly noticed by Xavi and co., and at just 15, he was training with the first team before the end of 2023 alongside his La Masia colleague Pau Cubarsi, who, by then, had already become a valued member of the first team.

Guillermo Fernandez playing style

It feels like there is a specific section one can “tick” when it comes to analysing a La Masia midfield graduate but let’s do it anyway.

Fernandez is extremely adept with the ball and fits like a glove in a possession-based team. He has incredible vision for his age and always looks like he has a lot of time on the ball even when he is rushed. That’s a quality that will stand him in great stead when he eventually makes the step up to the senior team.

Physically, he stands at just 5’6″ right now but with at least three years of growing still to do, anything above 5’8″ or so will benefit him. However, physicality is the least of his concerns as the likes of Pedri and Gavi have shown as long as the quality on the ball is elite.

One thing that does separate him from a “traditional Barcelona midfielder” in a positive sense is his smell of the goal. The way he crashes the box to be at the end of cutbacks from either wing reminds one of Frank Lampard. His late arrival at the edge of the box after the defensive line is already deep to defend crosses is a big plus. Six goals in nine appearances for the Spain U17s speaks volumes about this smell of the goal.

It is also why he has been trialled further forward as an attacking midfielder. His ball control in close spaces combined with his sense of goal has made him a good option there. However, if his physique remains slight, then perhaps it would be best served if he started from deep and creates overloads in the attacking phase when the opportunity arrives.

Future at FC Barcelona

It is difficult to predict the future of any player at a club whose head coach is leaving at the end of the season, let alone a 15-year-old who has just made his debut for the B team.

Having said that, it is impossible to not see Fernandez be involved with the senior team in at least some capacity when pre-season rolls around in the summer and he’s 16.

Regardless of who the next coach is, some things are non-negotiable for a Barcelona manager and one of those is trusting La Masia. That is something that will work in Guillermo Fernandez’s favour. He is already training with the first team and it is not impossible that he makes his senior debut this season. The Champions League is where Barcelona’s season hangs since they are not winning La Liga and Champions League qualification in the league is pretty much sealed.

Therefore, Xavi might choose to field the youngster near the end of the league season. If Xavi adds Fernandez as another gift to the next manager of the club, his legacy will be fortified even more as the man who might not have kept up with the pressures of the job, but set the club up well for the next decade-and-a-half.

Expect Guillermo Fernandez to lead that next crop of players, some statement to say when this looks like a golden generation of players coming through.

Vatsal Gupta
A die-hard Red Devil, who has straight up not had a good time since 2012. Lives on Korean dramas and books and can often be heard talking about armchair psychological stuff.

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