Munir El-Haddadi: Profile of Barcelona's newest star

The young Spaniard impressed in the opening match of the season

For many, there was only one star in Barcelona’s win over Elche in their first league outing of the season: Lionel Messi. With Enrique opting to play an inexperienced side, which saw six La Masia graduates start alongside each other, the Argentine led by example, scoring a brace as the Blaugrana ran away with a comfortable 3-0 win at home.

Following a disappointing 2013/14 season, it was hailed as the 27-year-old’s return to form, a pure master class which evoked the memories of the past. However, it would be foolish to neglect the exploits of a certain Munir El-Haddadi, whose performance has finally put him under the spotlight.

Luis Enrique’s return to Barcelona, following previous spells as a player then later coach for Barcelona “B” team, was met with jubilation; his arrival was always going to be beneficial for youth players. With their proud history of youth development, the promotion of promising talents into the first team is, essentially, what separates this club from the rest.

With Alexis sold to Arsenal, Luis Suarez banned until late October after biting yet again and Neymar recovering from both a back and ankle injury, it seemed the next chapter in Munir’s career could not have been written any better. And the young attacker has proved his worth.

Throughout the pre-season, in the absence of the club’s World Cup stars, the 18-year-old shone and finished as top-scorer with four goals from five matches. Such imperious form meant that, without Suarez and Neymar, Enrique had little choice but to play the starlet in their season opener. His impact was, arguably, greater than that of Messi – his work rate and ceaseless harassment of Elche’s defence out on the wing set up the conditions for the four-time Ballon d’Or winner to work his magic. Munir’s exploits were duly rewarded as he too got on the scoresheet to cap off a memorable debut.

Yet the Spanish Under-21 international’s rise to stardom is a peculiar one. Ironically, Munir was born in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a small town which lies within the autonomous community of Madrid. Fast forward nineteen or so years, however, and the youngster heralded as Spain’s “Next Big Thing” find himself playing for Madrid’s fiercest rivals, Barcelona.

At the age of fifteen, despite impressing on trial at Atletico, Munir was shipped out on loan to Rayo Majadahonda, a stint which altered the course of his career. His 32 goals in 29 matches attracted the interest of some of Europe’s elite from the off, with the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain all vying for his signature.

Barcelona, on the other hand, only entered the fray upon hearing of Real Madrid interest in snapping up the attacker. However, the talisman opted for Camp Nou after receiving assurances that meant his development would not be hampered. He was so eager to impress his new employers that, as legend would have it, he complied when asked to rid himself of his Neymar-styled hair and stubble.

The diminutive forward continued to impress and seamlessly fitted into Barcelona’s famed possession based style. His 11 goals from 10 matches in his debut Uefa Youth League season, in which he scored a magnificent goal from half-way in the final against Benfica Under-19s as they went on to secure the championship, saw him promoted to Barcelona “B” side. He debuted for the team back in March, and scored four goals in 11 appearances. The rest is history.

Despite his tender years, however, Munir has a certain air of confidence and maturity about him which is well beyond his years, a testament to his rapid development. Skilful on the ball and fleet of foot, the pacey left-footer does not shy away from taking on the best defenders around. It is perhaps his eye for goal that makes him a standout player and is not afraid of taking a shot from range either. Furthermore, his industrious work rate and impeccable ability to link-up with teammates means defender never get a moments rest, making him the ideal attacker.

Following his stand-out debut performance, coach Luis Enrique mused: “I had no fear about playing him. He trains like he plays, he gives us a lot of options and he has a lot of character. He never rests. But let's not get carried away, he still has a lot to do."

With the return of Pedro, Neymar and Suarez on the horizon, Munir may well be reduced to a lesser role at the club. Nevertheless, a star has been born, and yet again, Barcelona find themselves gifted with a talented player who is too good to be wasted.

@Cronan_Yu

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence