Sergio Roberto has never become the star that many saw him be at a young age. The La Masia graduate has hardly hit the peak that was being expected to. That is the case even though he has been a regular over the last few years.
This season, Roberto has made 11 appearances in La Liga. That is a big enough number. He did start the season in the central midfield, but he has played at right-back five times as well. He has two assists to his name- both came when he was playing in midfield in Barcelona’s 5-2 win over Real Betis.
Last season, Roberto was predominantly a right-back. 28 of his total 44 appearances came from that position, with seven coming from midfield. All of his contributions to goal (eight) came from the full-back position.
But some recent transfer news would not help Roberto’s cause. Especially his ambitions to play regularly at right-back.
AS in Spain claim that the Catalans are looking at Joshua Kimmich and Lukas Klostermann. They want to make ‘minor changes’ to the squad and Kimmich is the priority. If they fail to sign the Bayern Munich man, they will shift attention to the RB Leipzig star.
Both of them happen to be regular first-choice right-backs at their clubs. The Leipzig man has made 11 Bundesliga appearances, scoring once and assisting once. He has been used in a variety of positions, also plying his trade at wing-back on either side and at centre-back too.
Kimmich though is more like Roberto himself. He is technically adept and it allows him to play in central midfield like his predecessor Philipp Lahm. The Germany international has played ten times in midfield, playing at right-back nine times as well. It is very reminiscent of where Roberto usually plays too.
Kimmich is certainly Bayern’s regular at right-back. He plays ahead of Klostermann in position- something Barcelona would already know.
At Barca, Nelson Semedo has been playing as the right-back when Roberto plays in midfield. The Portuguese has played 16 times in all competitions, assisting three times. He is also often playing at left-back in the absence of Junior Firpo and Jordi Alba- a sign of his versatility.
But things will surely get tough for Roberto. He isn’t as quick as Semedo at right-back. The Portuguese has completed 1.3 dribbles per game in the league, while Roberto has come up with 0.4 dribbles per game only. That is a huge difference.
But Roberto has played 0.5 key passes per game in La Liga, while Semedo’s number stands at 0.3 only. That isn’t a huge difference, but it shows where Roberto really thrives.
But Kimmich is someone who can play in exactly the same positions at Roberto. If he comes in, Roberto won’t just lose a position at right-back. He could well end up losing a position in midfield.
The Barcelona midfield is full of numbers. Frenkie de Jong did join from Ajax in the summer, Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets are still there. Arthur is a regular and Ivan Rakitic adds experience. Roberto adds the technicality and the ability to hold the ball.
With Rakitic’s contract ending at the end of the season, he could leave. If he leaves, Roberto would have a space in midfield that he can take up. But if he somehow stays, Roberto’s spot could be in trouble if Barca do sign a right-back.