Hailed as a rising gem in Austria, Yusuf Demir joined FC Barcelona on a season-long loan in the summer transfer window. Originally brought in for the B Team, Demir caught the eye of Ronald Koeman after an impressive pre-season.
While his presence is promising, Demir’s situation is quite reminiscent of that of Francisco Trincao, who joined the club last summer with the hope of being the next great Barça player, but now he finds himself playing nearly 2000 kilometres away from the Camp Nou. If Barcelona wants to get the best out of Demir, it is imperative that the club does not repeat the same mistakes.
Who is Yusuf Demir?
Technical and fast, Demir is an explosive player. He is a left-footed forward who can be deployed either on the wings or centrally. His acceleration can help widen the playing field resulting in pockets of space that can be exploited. The Austrian has an attentive eye, which, when coupled with his admirable passing, creates a deadly combination.
Demir likes to cut inside. His technical abilities and his low centre-of-gravity make him a proficient dribbler. Offensively, he can either cut inside from the wings and play a through-ball to the striker or to the overlapping fullbacks. Alternatively, he can deliver a promising cross into the box. His dynamism makes him terrifying.
The Austrian is constantly moving, and he is moving in different ways. With the ball, he accelerates – changing speed and/or direction in an unpredictable manner. His phenomenal ball control and first touch allow him to do so quite gracefully. In an age where football is more tactical and structured than ever, it is the unpredictable and tempestuous players who make all the difference.
Coming off a commendable 2020/21 season, the then-17-year-old played 32 games and accumulated a total of nine goals and four assists. Nine of his 13 direct goal contributions came in the Austrian Bundesliga, with the remaining four goals coming in the Europa League, the OFB Cup, and the Champions League qualifiers.
13 direct goal contributions might seem modest, but in truth, it is quite impressive for a rising 17-year-old attacking midfielder/inside forward.
Following his flight to Barcelona, Demir featured in the Catalan club’s preseason. He participated in five pre-season games and scored a goal in the only full game he played.
Due to his standout preseason, Demir caught Koeman’s eye, and the Dutchman gave him minutes in Barcelona’s second La Liga game. The Austrian had a decent performance, and it seems quite likely that he will be in Koeman’s plans for the seasons.
The Trincao saga
Young, exciting, fast & explosive are adjectives that can be used to describe Francisco Trincao as well. The Portuguese arrived in the summer of 2020, and he lit up the Camp Nou during pre-season.
Following a disastrous 19/20 season and a summer packed with controversies, fans worldwide looked at the team’s promising youngsters as a glimmer of hope and optimism. After the pre-season he had, Trincao seemed to be the person who would answer those prayers.
Unfortunately, the Portuguese had a disappointing debut season with the Blaugrana. He appeared in 42 matches and contributed five goals – scoring three and assisting two. Not only was Trincao’s output low, but his game outside of the numbers wasn’t excellent either. He looked anxious and frightened while playing – clumsy on the ball and making erratic decisions. At times, it seemed as if he was trying too hard.
While a player is definitely responsible for his own poor performance, the management and the coaching also play a part in impacting the quality of the performance. Such was the case with Trincao. While the Portuguese was given a lot of opportunities, they seemed quite turbulent.
Trincao wasn’t given a consistent, structured run of games – he featured every now and then. His playtime was also always oscillating.
Furthermore, his position was quite undefined. At the beginning of the season, he was deployed on the wings in a 4-2-3-1 system, but as the season progressed and Koeman adopted a three-at-the-back formation with two central attackers and wide fullbacks, Trincao did not really have a position in which he could flourish in.
Throughout the campaign, the air surrounding him was always filled with uncertainty – “Is he really talented? Did Barcelona overpay for him? Will he be here next season?”. A lack of stability and coherence is never good, and it definitely isn’t for a rising footballer.
In the summer, Trincao joined Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan, with the English club having an option to purchase him for £25 million.
Learning from mistakes
Demir is a talented player, and if Barcelona manages him well, the Catalans would have quite an asset in their arsenal for the next decade. The club must not does not repeat the same mistakes that it did with Trincao.
To begin with, Barcelona should only activate Demir’s option-to-buy if he shows more than adequate potential. With football being more accessible to youth than ever, young talents have never been more abundant. With Barcelona in crippling debt, every penny matters, and should Demir not impress during his tenure in the garnet and blue, Joan Laporta and his board should not consider gambling on the Austrian.
However, Demir seems to be quite an extraordinary talent, and he should be given the right opportunities to express his full potential. The Austrian should be played in defined positions so that he can maintain a rhythm.
Unlike Trincao, Demir is more than comfortable playing centrally, so if an unforeseen situation arises and Koeman has to revert back to a system with no pure wingers, he should still manage to do well.
Additionally, Koeman should give the youngster consistent minutes so that he can adapt to his responsibilities. He shouldn’t be playing 70 minutes one match and then five minutes each in the next four.
In conclusion, FC Barcelona has an uncut gem in their hands, who, with the right management, can make it right to the top. The club has been quite poor in terms of player management in the recent past, and it looks to be seen if Koeman his handling of youngsters from the 20/21 season.
While Trincao’s situation was unfortunate, the reasons why the Portuguese youngster’s dream went unrealized serve as lessons for FC Barcelona. Demir is an exciting prospect, and if the people surrounding him make the right decisions, there doesn’t seem to be an obstacle preventing the Austrian from expressing the potential he seems to be brimming with.
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