Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman first saw Nico Gonzalez play during a friendly he attended by chance between Barcelona B and Juvenil A, according to Diario Sport. He’s followed him closely since, and this summer had him involved with the first team for pre-season. Given Sergio Busquets was on holiday, Ilaix Moriba was in the midst of a contract stand-off and Pedri was at the Olympic Games, he got game-time – and impressed.
Nico was rewarded for his performances with minutes against Real Sociedad in Barcelona’s La Liga opener, coming on the 84th minute of a 4-2 win. Koeman views him as the long-term successor to the still-imperious but ageing Busquets, and could perform as his understudy this season as a second sole pivot. He’s certainly a talented boy; calm under pressure and smart with the ball, quick to anticipate and recover balls.
Koeman wanted to sign Georginio Wijnaldum from Liverpool this season, only for Paris Saint-Germain to come in at the last minute and offer superior financial terms. It’s not looking likely Barcelona will be able to recruit another midfielder, so players like Nico, as well as Gavi, could be given a real chance to shine. Gerard Pique has been complementary of this new generation; now they have to prove they can deliver on their evident potential.