Has Yerry Mina's World Cup heroics pressured Barcelona?
The World Cup provides the grandest stage for any footballer to prove his worth to every fan on the planet. Some never have the opportunity. Others clench up when the ovations are loudest. But there is another group who relish the moment and use the platform as an opportunity to shine brightest. Yerry Mina falls into this category. For a young central defender, that is nothing short of impressive.
At 23, the 1.95m tall defender towers well above his age and height when on the pitch. Not only does he fulfil his duties at the back expertly, he goes forward at the right time to bail the team out. He played a huge part in Colombia's 2018 World Cup story, scoring in every game he played.
He recalls top defenders from tournaments past. Names like Carles Puyol, John Terry, and Italian Ballon d'Or winner Fabio Cannavaro, the only player from the back to have won the accolade.
The Colombian was rock solid in defence for his club sides even before moving to Barcelona. He earned a move to Spain as a result of his performances in Colombia, then in Brazil. He won the 2015 Superliga Colombiana with Independiente Santa Fe. After moving to Palmeiras in 2016, he was instrumental in ending a 22-year-old trophy drought by lifting the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A title.
The Spanish giants knew exactly what to expect when they made a move for the player and stated as much on their website.
Yerry Mina now comes to Barca with the opportunity to continue developing as a footballer following his move to Europe. Without a doubt the Colombian has the potential to make it.
The club quickly inserted a €100 million release clause into his contract. He had cost just €11.8 million.
The young centre-back arrived in January but played only a small role in the season's second half. He rarely featured for Ernesto Valverde's side as they marched to a Liga and Copa double. Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti were preferred while former Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen provided cover.
Mina finally made his debut in the Copa del Rey semi-final against Valencia in February. He came on as a substitute for Pique in the 83rd minute. Barca won 2-0. A few more appearances in the league were all he could muster. He ended the season with one assist in 379 minutes played.
His lack of playing time has led to speculation concerning his future. Barcelona was said to be ready to cash out on the defender. His performance at the World Cup may have given the Catalans pause. Three goals in three consecutive games, including one against England in the Round of 16, showed the world who Yerry Mina is. The Blaugrana have a big decision to make.
Many clubs are interested in his services. How can he be content to sit on the bench for another year? The La Liga champions may have to sell him. They have much more vested in Pique and Umtiti.
Alternatively, they may choose to send him out on loan for the coming season.
At 32 and 31 respectively, Vermaelen and Pique are both on their way out. Mina seems the best option to partner Umtiti. That may be the very reason they bought him in the first place.