opinions | 2016-09-12
Paco Alcácer is the perfect backup for the front three
After leaving Valencia in a controversial manner, the young Spaniard is set to prove himself at Barça
Not many Valencia fans were expecting recent academy graduate and captain, Paco Alcácer, to leave the club this summer.
Although some individuals would have known better, especially if you look back at several Valencia players Barcelona had brought from the past. After finishing 12th in La Liga last season, it’s not a surprise that the likes of Shkodran Mustafi, Paco Alcácer and André Gomes have all left the club during the transfer window.
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique had a tough job on his hands, improving the squad depth without causing any friction with his starters ahead of the transfer window. In order to do this effectively - Lucho decided to bring in young talents instead of world class players that can help him massively, not pressuring the key players, but having sufficient talent available when a rotation is needed within the starting line-up.
At the start of July, Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola snapped up Celta Vigo attacker Nolito for a fee of £14m who was on Barcelona’s radar since January. Towards the end of the month Lucho’s search for a striker had come to a massive problem – with Kevin Gameiro joining Atletico Madrid and Luciano Vietto moving to Sevilla, which left Barça with few options.
It may seem odd for Luis Enrique to spend €30m on a striker who won’t be a regular starter for Barcelona this season, but the 23-year-old’s move to Camp Nou is perfect for player and club, even if he wasn’t the first option from the list of attackers the manager had in mind.
On paper, Alcácer’s arrival will mainly offer Luis Enrique the chance to finally have a dependable forward from the bench that will be utilised as a backup for goal-scoring machine Luis Suárez. Last season, the Uruguayan scored 40 league goals in 35 appearances, which is a tough figure for any striker in the world to produce, let alone Alcácer.
Alcácer bagged 13 goals and six assists for Valencia – most of his contributions were as a substitute which will make the striker one of Luis Enrique’s trustworthy players - especially if the side either needs a goal to secure the result. Due to Barcelona’s tiredness towards the end of the last season’s campaign, the side were close to losing the league title to rivals Real Madrid.
MSN trio are known to embarrass their opponent’s with their fancy footwork and silky skills as well as their goal scoring prowess. Alcácer also has a skill or two up his sleeve, his signature move is lifting the ball over the defender’s head and follows it up by collecting the ball and speeding into the opponent’s box.
Paco Alcácer’s abilities and style of play is evidently recognised in Spanish football and the centre forward is a typical number nine striker – a player who works for the team, focuses on his technical strength as well as creating chances as well as getting on the end of them. He isn’t the perfect player when dribbling the ball but his movement off the ball and creating room for his teammates to move into is something Luis Enrique will definitely make use of.
The 23-year-old has mainly signed up to be Suárez’s understudy but Barcelona have the tactical advantage with Alcácer possessing the ability to play on both flanks relying on pace and pure goalscoring instincts. Taking this into consideration, Lionel Messi could finally be used in a deeper role which happened a few times last season.
On nine occasions last season, The Blaugrana failed to score more than one goal in the league, a stat that will make the side feel there is room for improvement and this will possibly be solved with Alcácer offering a lot from a super sub to a starter in strike or on the wings.
Luis Suárez is at his best and arguably the best striker in the world, but will be turning 30-years-old in January – does imply the fact that he only has a few world class seasons left in him. Whilst the signing of Paco Alcácer is expected to be a long-term one to possibly replace him and not be used as a squad player throughout his career at Camp Nou.
Last season was meant to be Alcácer’s breakthrough season, but the never ending managerial problems that Valencia had suffered delayed the development of the striker. For Alcácer, playing in Barcelona’s attack alongside Neymar and Lionel Messi will be a massive upgrade from that of his previous teammates at Valencia.
Alcácer has proven to be a reliable forward for his country, netting five times and producing one assist helped Spain to top the Euro 2016 qualifying group stage. Although, despite his contribution, it still wasn’t enough to convince Vicente del Bosque to include the former Valencia player in the 23 men squad for the European Championship.
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Article written by Asif Norat, you can follow him on Twitter: @HerreraTekkers.