— Sports

De la Fuente not worried about lack of games with Barcelona

MADRID (AP) – Spending more time with Barcelona’s reserves than with the first team hasn’t been bad for young American winger Konrad de la Fuente. De la Fuente said Wednesday that playing for Barcelona’s “B” team has helped him develop and will ultimately give him more chances to play alongside the Spanish club’s big stars.

“It was the club’s decision; they thought it was best for my progression to play regularly every week with the ‘B’ team but train with the first team daily,” the 19-year-old U.S. international said. “And I think it was the correct decision because I feel much better now.”

De La Fuente was born in Miami but came to Barcelona’s famed “La Masia” academy in 2013 after his family moved to Spain. He made his first-team debut in a Champions League match last year when the regular starters were rested.

He played in a second Champions League match in 2020, and made his third appearance for the first team in the Copa del Rey in January. Barcelona won all three games De la Fuente played, though he didn’t score and always came off the bench.

He started to train regularly with the central team this year and traveled with the squad to several matches. But that meant missing games with the “B” team, which ultimately kept him without many minutes with either group. Barcelona’s “B” team plays in Spain’s second division.


“It’s not easy to be in this position, you know, because as a soccer player, you want to be playing,” he said. “So at the beginning of the season, I wasn’t playing much with either team because I would travel with the first team, and then I would miss a “B” team game and, like, two weeks later, I’d play with the “B” team (again). So getting into a rhythm of games and minutes was pretty difficult. But I’ve been playing regularly for 10, 11 weeks, and I feel perfect.”

And while playing with the reserves has helped his game, De la Fuente said it doesn’t compare with the experience of being with the club’s top players – including Lionel Messi.

“It’s incredible being with the first team, training with them every day, learning from the best players in the world, especially Messi, one of my idols,” De la Fuente said during a virtual roundtable with journalists. “And it’s been great learning from him and all the other players. And I’m thankful because they helped me as well.”regular with the first team since joining Ajax last season.

“Right now, with COVID, there’s not a lot of things to do, but yeah, we eat sometimes and do things together,” he said.

De la Fuente, last year, agreed to a two-year contract extension with Barcelona through the 2021-22 season. The deal included a pair of club options and a buyout clause of 50 million euros ($60 million). The buyout clause would double if De la Fuente were promoted to the first-team roster.

De la Fuente, who will turn 20 on July 16, debuted with the “B” team in Spain’s second division in December 2018. He got his first start in December 2019 and scored his first goal in February 2020.

He played for the U.S. national team in a friendly against Wales last year.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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