Manaj and Memphis: the pre-season protagonists

Manaj and Memphis: the pre-season protagonists

| sport

The Dutch international scored from the penalty spot after coming off the bench in yesterday's game

Rey Manaj and Memphis Depay have been two of the most widely-discussed Barça players since the beginning of pre-season. While the Albanian's future may lie away from Camp Nou, despite his excellent performances in the first two friendlies, Memphis will have excited 'culers' with an impressive first team debut in which he bagged a penalty.

Yusuf Demir and Gavi will have surprised many with their solid displays so far this pre-season. Nico González, a midfielder who is widely regarded as having a big role to play at FC Barcelona in the coming years, also had a first team promising debut.

Despite this, it was Rey Manaj who made the headlines following his second half hat trick in the first friendly against Nàstic de Tarragona. In the second friendly against Girona, however, all eyes were on new signing Memphis Depay.

An interrupted progression

Manaj started the game against Nàstic on the bench, and was brought on at the start of the second half along with ten other players. The Albanian striker opened the scoring with a thunderous strike from a tight angle in the 60th minute, sending the ball crashing into the roof of the net. Just as it looked like Barça were on course to register a narrow victory, they then scored three more goals in the last five minutes.

Two of these were also scored by Rey Manaj. His second, which put Barça 3-0 up in the fixture, was chested into the net following an excellent cross from the left by Hiroki Abe. For his third, he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Following his performance against Nàstic, Rey Manaj kept his place in the team for Barça's second pre-season friendly against Girona. He scored the second goal of the night in the 24th minute, finishing off a low cross from Nils Mortimer at the near post. However, the Albanian striker needed to be substituted on the stroke of half time due to a headache.

He is currently Barça's top scorer this pre-season (4 goals), and this could increase his potential transfer fee. Barça hasn't ruled out keeping the player and using him in both first team and B-team squads, but it is felt that a loan move would be beneficial for his development. Sassuolo and Famalicao are monitoring the situation closely.

A dream debut

The Dutch forward replaced Rey Manaj three minutes before the break in yesterday's fixture against Girona. The 2,800 fans in attendance went wild as he left the bench to warm up down the touchline prior to his introduction in place of the Albanian forward.

Memphis was determined to bag a goal on his debut, getting shots away from all sorts of ranges and angles. His goal didn't come from open play, but the Dutch international showed enough signs of his quality to suggest that he will have a promising future at Camp Nou.

After winning a penalty a few minutes before the full time whistle, Griezmann gave the ball to Memphis so that he could score his first goal in Barça colours. It was the perfect penalty, rifled into the top corner from 12 yards out.

Memphis is something of a penalty specialist, scoring 11 of the 12 efforts that he took last season. In his career to date, he has scored 22 and missed 7.



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