masia | 2015-11-09
Meet Pablo Moreno, La Masia's topscorer
The pure #9 in Barcelona's ranks that could challenge the system and cement himself as a striker in the first team.
From Lionel Messi to Lee Seung-Woo, we have seen numerous promising goalscorers in the last two decades at La Masia., but none can really be classified as a natural #9 – the kind of attacker that has a hard time breaking through at Barça’s first team, with the likes of Ramon, Carreras, Sergio García, Bojan and Dongou not making it at the first team, and with Sandro Ramírez currently struggling in his first season in the main team. But Pablo Moreno is breaking every single record in the book, and he has come to stay.
To properly introduce you to Pablo Moreno, let’s have a look at his numbers. In his first season at Barça, 2013/14, playing for Alevín A (U-13, 7-a-side), he scored 72 goals in 27 games, and he hasn’t let go of his status as La Masia Pichichi ever since. Scoring 41 goals last season between Infantil B and A (U-14 and U-15), and now crushing more records this season with incredible 28 goals in just seven games for Infantil A.
Pablo Moreno is more than a poacher. His powerful physique helps him dominate every opposing defender in his age group, combined with a technical and playmaking ability that also put him in a level above most. Comfortable with both legs, Pablo receives the ball with his back to the goal and takes on opponent after opponent, following up by setting up a teammate or scoring himself.
However, given his age and position, it is his goals that stand out the most. Besides scoring 28 goals in seven games, he also had a rampant preseason, with 16 goals in six games at the Memorial Cristina Varani tournament in Italy, where he led his team to the final, a defeat against Inter Milan.
Given his numbers, the logical move is promoting Moreno to Cadet B, so he can play some older kids who are at his level, similar to what occasionally happened last season. But promoting him to Cadet B is complicated, because they already have another striker playing above his age, Anssumane ‘Ansu’ Fati. The reason Moreno featured with Infantil A (now Cadet B) last season was because Ansu was being investigated by FIFA and prohibited from playing football. This season, Ansu is back to playing regularly, which means there isn’t room for Moreno in the squad, even though he’d do more than well on a team one year above his category: last season 14 of his 41 league goals were scored against the older opposition.
Choosing between Barcelona and Real Madrid
Moreno was born in Andalusia, Spain, in 2003. During the 2011/12 season, he established himself as one of the brightest talents in Spain, leading his local team Ciudad de Granada to the Andalusian Championship in the Benjamín category, winning 2-1 vs Real Bétis in the final. The following summer he impressed the Barça scouts during a friendly against Barça’s own Benjamín side.
In the following season, at the Alevín C level, Moreno again faced Barcelona. Not only did his team win the Powerade Cup ahead of Barça, Moreno became the topscorer of the tournament, impressing the two La Masia bosses in the stands, Guillermo Amor and Albert Puig.
When his boyhood club couldn’t keep up with what his talent demanded, he moved to a bigger academy. His choice wasn’t an easy one, Moreno had a brother who played for Málaga’s Juvenil A, and in the middle of negotiations with Barça, Real Madrid intervened, inviting him to their training grounds and offering him a spot at La Fábrica. In the end, both the player and his family decided that La Masia was the future, a decision that will prove to be the right one.
Many of La Masia’s best poachers have trouble making it at Barça, but Moreno is quickly making a name for himself. Watch some of Moreno’s best goals last season.
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