“Sergi Roberto is a player to look out for in the coming years. When he really breaks through you’ll all be surprised.” – Pep Guardiola in 2011. It took about 4 years, but he was right. We were indeed surprised when, almost exactly a year ago, Roberto earned himself a place in the Blaugrana starting eleven and kept impressing us with his incredible vision and versatility.
Versatility is the word that describes Sergi Roberto the best. Throughout La Masia he mainly played in a central midfield role, but as his career at Barcelona seemed to have stagnated a bit, manager Luis “Lucho” Enrique (a.k.a. better than Pep Guardiola) used his incredible ability to adapt and played him in whatever position they needed a player. The start of the 2015/2016 season was Roberto’s big breakthrough and we stood there completely astounded as he took on new positions and tasks every game and handled them all brilliantly.
Getafe away early last season was when I realized he was a special player. With two world class assists he pretty much won the Catalan side the three points. In the first half he received a cross just outside the box and back heel-volleyed it to Luis Suarez who put it away in the bottom left corner. The second one, while not as technically impressive, is still my favourite out of the two. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen brought the ball down after a corner, and the attacking line were prepared to counter attack. With good vision the German threw the ball out to the right were Sergi picked it up. He then went on a Messi-like run of about 40 yards and found Neymar with an incredible cross, allowing the Brazilian to finish off the game off with the second goal.
Now, many people argue that Blaugrana is in need of a new right back, that Roberto isn’t a proper one and that he should be played as one of the two central midfielders in the side’s 4-3-3 system. And at first, I agreed with them. I thought it was a waste of talent to put him in a position where he wouldn’t have had as much impact on the game as he would otherwise. But the way he has been playing, and the way everything has worked out so well with Rafinha filling the other midfield spot, I’m confident Sergi is the player the Catalans can rely on in that right back spot for many years to come. I mean, he has it all. His vision and the passing needed to play in Barcelona’s style of play, his tactical awareness, his fantastic stamina, and even a bit of pace means he is the perfect fit for that exact spot.
He is, in my opinion, amongst the top 5 right backs in the world at the moment, which is very impressive considering he hasn’t even played in that position for a full year. Just imagine what he can do in two, three, four years... He was a late bloomer, but his future is looking brighter than many others.
Spanish Football Expert