Oriol Romeu: The Underrated Signing Of The Summer
Barcelona will very much find it difficult to replace Sergio Busquets in the long term after he operated successfully as their holding midfielder for 15 years, however, Oriol Romeu may be the perfect short-term solution for Xavi.
The 31-year-old has signed from Girona on a three-year contract. Romeu is a graduate of Barcelona’s ‘La Masia’ academy but played just twice for the senior side before moving to Chelsea at the age of 19.
He eventually established himself in the Premier League in 2015, playing seven seasons for Southampton as a tough-tackling holding midfielder who was happy to sit deep and provide protection for his defence.
Just three seasons ago, former Barcelona manager, Pep Guardiola, described Romeu as “one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.”
Southampton have suffered since his departure last summer as they were relegated and conceded 73 goals, the most they have ever conceded in the Premier League.
Romeu though has enjoyed a successful season since he signed for newly promoted Girona, helping them in achieving a top-10 finish.
Since his return to La Liga, he has become so much more than a midfielder that was known as a ‘destroyer’ as he played as a pivot in a possession-based team, helping break the lines and making sure that Girona maintain control of the ball.
This type of player will be attractive for Xavi as he will be a solid protector for all the attacking talent that Barcelona have and will be able to give some licence for players to advance forward into attacking positions such as new midfield acquisition Ilkay Gundogan.
Towards the end of last season, Gundogan became crucial in Manchester City’s success and shone in a more advanced role by providing many more attacking returns and scoring some important goals.
Players such as Frenkie De Jong have also become more developed in their attacking skills and youngsters Pedri and Gavi will provide great energy around Romeu and will be encouraged to collect the ball from him to carry into the final third.
Having the balance of being able to protect his defence with important blocks, interceptions and tackles alongside his improvement in comfort on the ball, Xavi will feel that he has added great balance to his team within the short term.
Romeu has already impressed as he dominated the midfield in Barcelona’s recent win in ‘El Classico’ against Real Madrid with Barca winning 3-0.