How Barcelona’s 10 wonderkids on FM23 have developed IRL in 2022-23

Estadio Martinez Valero, Elche, Spain; La Liga football, Elche CF versus FC Barcelona Credit: Alamy
Estadio Martinez Valero, Elche, Spain; La Liga football, Elche CF versus FC Barcelona Credit: Alamy

Barcelona are famous for their La Masia academy as they have churned out some of the best technical players of the modern era. Their current squad is also filled with wonderkids.

Xavi has done a good job when it comes to integrating their younger stars into the first team and Barcelona now boasts one of the youngest squads in La Liga with an average age of 25.5.

We’ve gone through Barcelona’s 10 wonderkids on Football Manager 2023 and have assessed how they are developing and progressing in real life.

Alejandro Balde

Balde has been the understudy to Jordi Alba for the past couple of seasons, but this year the teenager has actually started in more league games than his older counterpart.

The 19-year-old has already featured in 16 matches this season, which is more than double his appearances last season. He also featured in all four of Spain’s matches at the 2022 World Cup.

Gavi

Barcelona fans have high hopes for Gavi and rightly so. The midfielder showcased just how good he can be at the World Cup and he is already a regular for Barcelona at just 18 years old.

Gavi particularly shined during Spain’s 7-0 drubbing of Costa Rica which prompted Luis Enrique to lavish the youngster with praise during his press conference.

“The most surprising thing for everyone is that someone, at 18 years and 100 days old, has that amount of self-confidence,” Enrique told reporters.

“You have to look at the intelligence he has in his positioning, how he dominates the technical aspects of football, and his physical capacity despite being 18. We have to stay calm, he’s 18, but he can define an era.”

Nico Gonzalez

Having been tipped as the natural replacement for Sergio Busquets, Gonzalez has quite the reputation to live up to. The 20-year-old is spending this season on loan with Valencia where he is gaining vital first-team experience.

“[Nico] is a player who can mark an era,” former Barcelona B manager García Pimienta told Mundo Deportivo in August 2021. “If everything goes to plan, he is going to be the heir to Busquets.”

Ansu Fati

As a result of Barcelona’s busy summer transfer window, Fati now has plenty of competition for his place in the side. The 20-year-old remains a big part of Xavi’s side although the majority of his appearances this season have come from the bench.

In 462 minutes of league football this season he has scored three goals and produced three assists. He also featured for Spain at the World Cup with two cameo appearances from the bench.

READ: Ansu Fati only needed 27 mins to show us he really is the ‘new Messi’

Abde Ezzalzouli

Ezzalzouli was part of the Moroccan side which made history by reaching the World Cup semi-final for the first time in their history. Domestically he is spending the season on loan with Osasuna.

This season the winger has registered two assists in La Liga and will now be looking to build upon his successful World Cup campaign.

Estanis Pedrola

Pedrola made his senior debut for Barcelona last season and he is continuing his development with the B team this year. The 19-year-old forward has made three appearances and scored one goal so far this season.

“As a youngster, he was already the best striker in Spain. This year he has made the physical change. He has put himself at 185 centimetres and that has helped him a lot,” Xavi Castro, the president of Pedrola’s former academy Fundacio Futbol Base Reus, said of the forward.

Fabio Blanco

Blanco is continuing his development with Barcelona B as he has featured in 12 matches for the development side this season. The 18-year-old has predominantly played on the left-hand side and he has produced one assist this season.

Pedri

There’s no doubt that Pedri is destined to go straight to the top. The 20-year-old is already a key component of Barcelona and Spain’s midfield and it seems as if he is constantly improving.

Xavi was left impressed with what he saw from Pedri at the World Cup. The manager told GOAL: “Pedri has no ceiling. He has all the skills that a footballer has to have, in this case a midfielder, he has talent, he has sacrifice, he is strong defensively, he can play three games in a row, he has everything to make a difference.

“He has just turned 20, he is very young but shows an unusual maturity in a World Cup. It’s a pleasure to watch him play, he can make a difference in any match. He gets along with Gavi, he associates with Busquets. We have a centre in Spain that is a delight to watch play.”

Pablo Torre

Barcelona splashed out around €5million to Racing Santander earlier this year to snap up Torre. The youngster has made four first-team appearances this year and scored in the Champions League against Viktoria Plzen.

He took his first goal exceptionally well to be fair to him.

Ilias Akhomach

Akhomach made three first-team appearances last season and he is now continuing his development with Barcelona B. In 20 appearances for the B team this season he has scored two goals.

He was also included in Barcelona’s Champions League match-day squad to face Viktoria Plzen, but he was an unused substitute on the night.

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