A 20/21 Season Review of Barca Loanees
In the summer of 2020, all of FCB Femeni’s ins and outs in the transfer market were done with players from the B team. While some players from the B team were promoted to the senior team, other players were sent on loan to get Primera Division minutes elsewhere. These players were Clàudia Pina, Candela Andújar, and Carla Armengol, all forwards who would have had a hard time getting regular first-team minutes if they stayed for the season. With the 2020/21 season officially over, we evaluate the performances of each of Barcelona’s three loaned-out players and determine whether or not their loan spells were successful.
1. Clàudia Pina, season-long loan at Sevilla FC
Position: Striker/False 9/Attacking midfielder
In what would be her first full season in the Primera Iberdrola, Clàudia Pina needed to live up to some expectations. Easily the best Spanish prospect of her generation, this loan was meant to determine how ready the 18-year-old was for the big leagues.
Pina made 34 appearances with Sevilla in the league this past season, with 31 of those appearances in the starting XI. She was a crucial player in Sevilla's season, starting mostly as a "shadow striker" or a "10," tasked with progressing the ball into the final third. Pina conducted herself well beyond her years, leading the team's attack and setting an example for many other players in the mid-table side. She scored 9 goals and also registered 8 assists, contributing to 40.47% of the total goals scored by Sevilla in the entire season.
Pina showed her talents not just against low-to-mid table Spanish teams, but against the best team in Europe- FC Barcelona. In the Copa de La Reina quarterfinal, she carved open Barcelona's defense with a mesmerizing solo run into the box, ending with a finish towards the far left corner. She spent the entire remaining half of the match sending through balls to Sevilla's strikers, lobbing pinpoint passes across the pitch, and drifting elegantly between Kheira Hamraoui and Barcelona's defense, who struggled to contain her. Pina caused problems for Barcelona in a way unlike most of their opponents this past season.
There is some speculation that a second loan spell could be in the making to make sure she continues to develop with consistent minutes in the Primera División. Regardless of whether she returns this summer or the next, Pina has proven herself to be one of her generation's most talented forwards that can handle a much bigger league. Her return will be an excellent addition to a group of forwards that look more and more dangerous by the day.
Season Rating: 9/10
2. Candela Andújar, season-long loan at Valencia CF
Position: Right-wing/Attacking midfield
Similar to Clàudia, it's been a simply outstanding season for the young Spanish player. Candela bounced back from a slightly underwhelming campaign at Barcelona, where she failed to impress and get consistent minutes in the 2019/20 season. This season, she has made 31 appearances, starting 26 of them, scoring 9 goals, and registering 5 assists. She ended the season as the second top scorer for the Valencian side.
Despite her great season, however, it is unlikely that she will be carving out a starting role at the club. Barcelona’s depth on the wings is beyond ridiculous at the moment, and while Candela had a great season, it is hard to see her taking minutes off Barcelona’s Caroline Graham Hansen, Lieke Martens, or Mariona Caldentey. Barcelona will probably have to send her on loan for another season since it's difficult to find her a place in the team. All hope is not lost, though, as this career trajectory was similar to that of Leila, who left the club to develop and returned a much better player.
Season Rating: 8/10
3. Carla Armengol
Position: Left-wing/Left midfield/Left-back
One of the most doubtful of the three loanees, young winger Carla Armengol struggled to make an impact in her season with Sevilla. Carla managed 21 appearances, only 10 of which being starts. She scored just 1 goal in the league and registered no assists. After being unable to solidify a place in Sevilla's forward line, Armengol was relegated to the left-back position where she struggled to put in good performances.
Armengol was a promising attacking talent a few years ago, but if this loan has indicated anything, it is safe to say that her future at Barcelona did not quite pan out. The club concluded Armengol's situation as such, and did not exercise the option to extend her contract for an additional year.
Season Rating: 3/10
Were Barcelona Femeni’s loanees a success overall?
For the most part, yes. Carla Armengol's Barcelona career did not end as hoped, but otherwise, the remainder of the loans were absolutely successful. To have two potential superstars in Clàudia Pina and Candela Andújar emerge from 3 loanees is an incredible return. In the future, the pair have great chances to become valuable squad players or even starters one day. These players are just more examples of FC Barcelona’s growing focus on youth and are just two of the many young talents that culés can look forward to seeing more of in the future.