This is the time of the season where youth players of varying talent are unceremoniously dumped from their respective clubs, diamonds from canteras who do not make the cut and have to look for another team before the upcoming season. Some departures are harder to take then others, and one of those is the departure of Roger Riera from Barcelona’s Juvenil A side.
Barcelona announced that they would not be extending Riera’s contract, a mind boggling thing when you look at the youngster’s pedigree. The nineteen year old has been raised at La Masia, learning the Barcelona way for the last nine years. Known for his charisma and leadership qualities, Riera helped win a league title each of those years and lead his team to two other prestigious trophies in the span, the Nike Premier Cup 2010 at Old Trafford and the first UEFA Youth Champions League this past April in Nyon.
He has captained every team he has played for and his winning league record is unprecedented in the hallowed halls of La Masia. It is fitting that his last silverware in the Blaugrana be the most prestigious, with the historic 3-0 victory over Benfica in the inaugural UEFA Youth Champions League.
So where next for young Riera? Reports this morning hint that a move to Nottingham Forest could happen as soon as Monday. The Football League Championship team could be a great step for Riera who follows a steady stream of youngsters who leave Barcelona for English shores. Could he be the next Gerard Pique who spent key years of his young career in England before returning to Barcelona to become a highly rated defender? Or will he follow Ignasi Miquel’s career path who seems to be stuck at the reserves in the Arsenal camp after joining in 2008?
And what kind of player will Nottingham Forest, or some other club be getting? Riera is a consummate professional with the aforementioned winning pedigree, two intangibles which make him worth a try. On top of that, Riera is great with the ball at his feet, not a surprise after nine years at La Masia, he is good in the air and at 6ft 1in will be able to compete physically in the English game.
I cannot guess the politics and other reasons for his departure from Barcelona but I will follow Riera’s career closely. He has the potential to become a leader for a first division team in years to come, whether that be England, back in Spain or abroad.