Barcelona won Primera Iberdrola with a nine points lead over former champion Atletico Madrid. The 19/20 season is one for the history books, the team is undefeated across all competitions, after taking their sweet time to master their style. The future goal is to maintain dominance in the league and look towards European glory. All eyes are on the club, and expectations are high for the next season; however, unlike other giants in Europe, Barcelona has yet to announce a brand new signing to strengthen their squad. The club took a different approach. Barca announced contract renewals for B team players, promoting Laia Codina with an exclusive contract with the first team. Others will be dividing time between B and first-team, but one player’s case seems to be an expectation, Claudia Pina.
Made in La Masia
Claudia Pina joined Barcelona’s youth system from Espanyol in 2013. It didn’t take her long to make her presence known as she went on to score 100 goals in 20 appearances in her second season, winning the league championship. Claudia received her first international call up for U-16 Spain at 14. She created a lot of buzz for scoring a stunner against Espanyol in a memorable derby in January 2017. Pina collected the ball, dribbled four to five past players with ease and struck it in the back of the net from the edge of the box. Her breakout moment internationally was 2018 U-17 Uruguay World Cup, she scored 7 goals, secured the silver boot and player of the tournament along with the World trophy for Spain. Claudia has 43 goals in 39 matches for Spain under her belt. She continued her fantastic run internationally and domestically, in the 19/20 season with the B team she scored 15 goals in 16 appearances, 1330 minutes.
The youngster debuted for the first team in January 2016 at the age of 16; she set the record for the youngest debutant. She received calls to train with them, occasionally making it to the squad, and she ended up playing 230 minutes in all competitions with the seniors as a substitute. Claudia traveled with the team to London, Meadow Park the home of the Champions of England(18/19) to play a friendly, she came on as a substitute in the second half and scored a brace as they won the match 2-5. It isn’t the only occasion she went toe to toe with a senior team. In February 2020, Spain’s U-19 played a friendly against CD Tacon (Real Madrid) and won 4-2, Claudia was one of the scorers.
Claudia as a Footballer
Claudia is considered the future of Barcelona and Spain national team; she has already put herself on the map due to her incredible innate skill and passion. She is a two-footed forward plays #10 for Barcelona, the play-maker behind the central striker and attacking midfielder. She is allowed to move in the attack zone, drop deep to link play, and receive the ball. She positions herself as an interior to build an attack. Her numbers speak for her hunger for goals, but that is not the only thing to her. She is an efficient dribbler and creator; she is continuously looking for space to attack and maintains pressure on the opponents with a high press. As a young footballer, she shows a lot of maturity, awareness, and understanding of the game; it all comes naturally. She plays a different position for Spain, a 9 or a false 9, this adds credit to her being a versatile offensive player. She can contribute from any offensive position; she is flexible and adapts well to different teams, formations, and dynamics. Barca B, Spain’s youth levels, and senior Barca team all play different styles, and she has proven that she is learning to adjust with all of them.
Interest from other clubs
Claudia has set a high standard for herself. Her incredible run with Barcelona and Spain made it clear that she is too good for the second division and too young and inexperienced for Barcelona’s first team as a regular starter. Clubs were aware of her contract ending after the 19/20 season, so they were out to convince her to join first-team clubs. Many reliable journalists linked her to Real Madrid; they are ready to debut in 20/21 after merging with CD Tacon officially. She attracted foreign offers as well; French club PSG also showed a keen liking for her. However, despite attractive offers, Claudia decided to stay with Barcelona, her agent assured that she didn’t even entertain any club. Her heart is in Barcelona, and she is determined to make her way up in Blaugrana colors; she says, “Since you’re a kid you dream of reaching a first team, and more a team like this one, which is an incredible club. It was a dream since my childhood, I am very happy and hope to continue here for many years” promising to commit herself to the club until 2023 and more.
Loan to Sevilla?
Barcelona and Sevilla have not made any official statements regarding the rumors, but it is not a stretch to assume that the youngster will be loaned out for at least one season to Sevilla. Cata Coll is returning from Sevilla to Barca after a successful loan spell, the same is expected from Claudia. Unlike the other B players, she is not likely to continue with the B team and as a substitute for the first team. Claudia is in immediate need of first-team experience and game time, Barcelona can not provide her that under any circumstances. It would be unfair to make her sit on a bench, as it is nearly impossible to penetrate Barca’s current offensive lineup. Jenni Hermoso, Asisat Oshoala, Lieke Martens, Caroline Graham Hansen, and Mariona Caldentey are enough to give second thoughts to any experienced and proven forward, while Claudia is only 18. She can’t be played as an attacking midfielder either. That position is also held up by Jenni Hermoso or Mariona Caldentey; along with them, she can’t bench Alexia Putellas, Patri Guijarro, or Aitana Bonmati. She has to wait for her turn.
The Future and Return to Johan Cruyff Stadium
Barcelona has not lost any major player in the current window, but that won’t be the case after the 20/21 season, especially after 21/22, when most of the starting players are due to end their contracts. It is fair to assume, Barcelona will eventually lose offensive players; this will allow Claudia to grab her spot. She will be playing for her future as soon as she sets on the pitch as a starter for Sevilla, she will have to show Barcelona that they don’t need to look abroad or elsewhere for replacements, she will have to be ready.
The pearl of Barcelona, the title associated with the 18-year-old who has established herself as a future star and ‘wonderkid’. The club has shown immense trust by offering her a new three-year contract and a possible loan to a first-team, they’re betting on her for their future. However, she has a long way to go, her numbers and skills are impressive, but it is important to remember she is in a learning and developmental phase. She will take her time, have minor hiccups along the way, and eventually come around. Her potential is unlike any, Barcelona, Spanish, and football fans will be looking and waiting for her to fulfill it in due course.