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Lucas Digne signing proves the decline of Barca's La Masia academy

Lucas Digne signing proves the decline of Barca's La Masia academy
Lucas Digne signing proves the decline of Barca's La Masia academy
Lucas Digne is the latest in a string of signings for FC Barcelona. The twenty-two-year-old French international was included in France's Euro 2016 squad...
Digne camp nou

Lucas Digne is the latest in a string of signings for FC Barcelona. The twenty-two-year-old French international was included in France's Euro 2016 squad, but he never made an appearance in any of the matches -- which can't possibly be a good sign of a world-class player, right?

Although Parisian giant PSG is the club that contractually owned Digne, the French international spent his last season in Italy with AS Roma. Previously, Lucas Digne played for Ligue 1 side, where he scored three goals, provided five assists and appeared in a total of forty games for the Italian club. Despite a relatively impressive loan stint, circumstances made it clear that a return to PSG would not serve the best interests of Digne. When he signed with Les Parisiens back in 2013, the club intended to use the young left-back as an eventual replacement for Maxwell, the seasoned Brazilian who the Barcelona fanbase should remember fondly. 

Time has changed Digne's initial plans. Maxwell has exceeded his expected retirement date. Since he has remained in form, the veteran is still PSG’s first choice as left back. While Digne has been away on loan, youngster Layvin Kurzawa has replaced him as second choice. If Digne returned to PSG, he would arguably be the third choice behind a proven veteran and another dynamic talent who has, at this point, earned more seniority at the club. Hence, a move away from PSG makes sense for Digne.

However, a Digne to Barcelona transfer comes as a surprise for many. Just a month ago, he seemed set to make a permanent move to AS Roma. Digne, AS Roma, and PSG were all eager to complete the move, but plans fell through. PSG’s asking price was too steep for AS Roma and, as a result, the French youngster had no option but to look for options elsewhere.

At Barcelona, Digne will most likely not be a regular starter. How could a third-choice player at PSG ever break into Barca's starting XI, right? He will at best share the left-back position, as a perennial second choice, with Jordi Alba. Let's hope we are not witnessing a new version of the Douglas fiasco here...

Advancement into a starting position is far more possible for Lucas Digne at Barcelona than it was at PSG. With only Alba, a player who has been accused of being lackluster and even complacent given his lack of competition, Digne could in theory find his way into the starting lineup -- although this is hugely unlikely, to be honest. If he couldn't get ahead of a nearing-retirement Maxwell, it’s little short of impossible for Digne to ever replace Jordi Alba.

To add insult to injury, Digne comes to the Camp Nou with a minor injury. At his presentation, he wore a protective facial mask due to his recent surgery to repair fractured nasal bones. Let's hope that this small setback will not impact Digne’s ability to adapt to his new surroundings as soon as possible.

During his presentation, Digne made a few statements that should make Barcelona supporters content with this unexpected move. He stated: “I think my style of play suits Barca.” He has also revealed that he intends to ply his trade with the club long-term.

Let's hope the young, hungry Frenchman who wants to stay with Barcelona for several seasons surpasses expectations and becomes a regular fixture, even if it was just as an eventual substitute. Given the fact that the board no longer seem prepared to promote La Masia youngsters as back-up players, the only way for older players to transition away from the team is investing heavily on non-starters at other major European clubs -- disappointingly

By Marissa Blackman, columnist at Barcablog