Recently a news report came out announcing that LSW has officially been promoted to Barca B. Cue the Internet storm – his name has already risen to the top 5 Naver searches. Normally I’d be freaking overjoyed. I’ve followed our youth players in Barcelona since 2010/11 (Roy recruited me in the first place to spread the word on our three talents) and I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit watching Barca youth games and posting/asking questions on various barca forums back in high school. Regarding the recent news outbreak though, as the Tavern Youth Expert I adivse you guys to take all this with a grain of salt. Either Korean media doesn’t seem to know how the youth system works, or as per usual it’s making a mountain out of a molehill.
These articles trending right now on korean news sites mean pretty much nothing. If you look at the original source it says that LSW will be training with Barca B and will join the team on the 13th. However, this does not necessarily mean that he will officially play for Barca B once he turns 18 and the transfer ban ends. In fact, both LSW and BSH have already been training with Barca B since March. In all likelihood, LSW and BSH WILL both end up playing for Barca B – I’ll tell you guys why in just a bit – but saying that LSW has been promoted just because a random Spanish website said that he will be taking part in Barca B preseason training is a fail on korean news’s part. Following the training logic, LSW and BSH should have been promoted like half a year ago.
It´s also weird that while the initial reports quoted a random Spanish website (read: not Marca or any of the other leading trustworthy Spanish sites) saying that LSW would TRAIN with Barca B, some of the more recent ones quote Lee Seung Woo’s AGENCY as saying LSW had been promoted to Barca B. Why didn’t the original articles quote the agency? Moreover it’s kind of a weird announcement from an agency don’t you think? What kind of agency announces that a player has been promoted to Barca B? Especially considering that LSW’s agent is Pere Guardiola? Only Korean media would celebrate / deem announcement-worthy that “Lee Seung Woo has been promoted to Barca B” in my opinion.
The only way to tell if LSW is OFFICIALLY UNDER CONTRACT with barca b is if he appears on the official team roster on the Barcelona website. From 4 years of past experience I’ve seen that this is updated mid August. Now the complication is that due to the transfer ban, when the official rosters are out in August none of the korean players will appear (I was very upset in 2012 or 2013 when none of the korean players were in the team photo for their respective teams), so only in January when the rosters are updated with winter transfer additions will we see if LSW has been promoted for certain (I single out LSW cuz BSH is already Barca B age). Additionally, youth levels are extremely flexible. Like really really flexible. Many talented players train and play preseason friendlies with higher level teams but come down to their normal age group for the rest of the season. There is a lot of jumping around; see Munir, Traore, and Samper for example, who played for and trained with the first team at times but are officially under contract with B and spent the vast majority of the season with B if I remember correctly. Or Lee Kang In who played both Cadete B and Infantil A tournaments this past month. Or LSW in the past who often trained with 선배s before the transfer ban happened. Hell, Kim Dong Soo with Hamburg is training for the first team right now in preseason but nobody’s announcing that he will be playing for the HSV first team right? With Spahic, Djourou, and Kleber it’s pretty much clear that KDS will be with HSV II next season. So, in this light it is very possible that LSW will train with Barca B but go down to his normal level, especially considering his rust. Earlier this year I’ve actually heard that both BSH and LSW might initially play with Juvenil A for a bit to shed some rust, but with Barca B getting relegated to 3rd division there’s a higher chance they’ll go straight to B. LSW, however, might want to stay with Juvenil A for the UEFA Youth Champions League, the most important tourney for Barca youth players and a rite of passage of sorts for La Masia talents; Munir was the star of the edition two years ago, and basically every player selected for the first team has shined in this tournament. Furthermore, LSW has already been training with Juvenil A early this past season and with Barca B in the latter half, making the LSW to Barca B story highly likely but not official. And the Barca B striker Jean Marie Dongou has been somewhat disappointing this season according to most accounts I’ve read, potentially paving the way for LSWs entrance this January.
BSH will certainly sign with Barca B – there was news early in april that they were already working on his first pro contract. The recent U18 tournament showed he was just a different animal altogether considering he’s been in Barcelona since 2010; I really do believe he can become a very very critical player for Korea. As for Jang Gyeol Hee, I bet he’ll be with Juvenil A next season considering only LSW and BSH have been training with Barca B. Not to take anything away from JGH – in my opinion he’s just as valuable as the other two players and to be honest JGH is much more refined in many ways. He stated in an interview, jokingly, that he was better at dribbling than LSW, but that’s not entirely a lie, as the AFC U16 championship showed.
BTW, I have a very controversial opinion to share. As some of you may know, Barca B coach Jordi Vinyals was sacked after getting relegated, and a new coach almost certinaly won’t be decided until Barcelona board elections. Now, Jordi Vinyals used to be the star Juvenil A coach, and has coached LSW and BSH before during last season’s preseason friendlies vs. Argentina, Indonesia, and some other random youth teams. These friendlies worried me a lot. BSH was fine, but for some reason LSW would never touch the ball – he was super isolated up front. Something about that told me that Jordi Vinyals likes traditional 9’s, which LSW certainly isn’t. So. I’m actually kinda relieved Jordi Vinyals is not coaching LSW, despite all his successes with youth teams in the past. I can’t recommend another coach, because I didn’t really pay attenton to coaches names back in the day. The only coach I do remember is Fran Artiga of one of the Cadete levels (don’t remember which), only because I thought his name was kinda funny. I’d assume it’s highly unlikely he’ll be coaching Barca B though, considering he works with 14/15 year olds, not pros.
Either way, I just wanted to point out that there’s a logical fallacy in these recent news reports. I am nitpicking of course; in most likelihood LSW and BSH will play for Barca B but nothings certain just yet. But no matter what team they play for you can bet I’ll be watching and updating you guys on the Tavern.