Konrad De La Fuente ended last season on a high note with La Liga side Barcelona, but has found it tough to truly earn a consistent role with the first team this campaign.
De La Fuente made three cameos off the bench for Ronald Koeman’s side this season, appearing in the UEFA Champions League twice along with an appearance in Copa Del Rey. Since then, the Florida native has played regularly with Barcelona’s B team, which has clinched a spot in the upcoming promotion playoffs later in May.
The 19-year-old has registered six goals and four assists in 20 combined appearances for Barcelona B, but admits it was hard to get back into a rhythm when playing again.
“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t playing much with either team because I was traveling with the first team and then I would miss a ‘B team’ game and then two weeks later I would play with the ‘B team’,” De La Fuente said in a conference call Wednesday with media.
“It was pretty difficult to get into a rhythm of games and minutes, but now I have been playing regularly for a good 10, 11 weeks and I feel really good,” De La Fuente said. “I think it was the club’s decision [to spend more time with the ‘B team.’] They really thought it was best for my progression for me to play every week with the ‘B team’ but train with the first team every day. I think it was the correct decision because I feel a lot better right now.”
It has been a memorable past six months for De La Fuente, who made his U.S. Men’s National Team debut last November to go along with his appearances with Barcelona’s first team. De la Fuente has shown impressive skill in the Spanish third division this season, regularly earning minutes and continuing to work on his individual development as a professional player.
“It’s incredible being with the first team, training with them every day, learning from the best players in the world, especially (Lionel) Messi, who’s one of my idols,” De la Fuente said. “You realize that the intensity of the first division is a lot higher than what I am used to, because last year I was playing with the U-19s. And defensively you have to work harder, they’re the main differences.”
While USMNT teammate Sergino Dest is playing a key role with the first team as Barcelona pushes for a La Liga title, De La Fuente has a major opportunity to boost his stock heading into the 2021-22 season. Barcelona is reportedly listening to offers for the U.S. Men’s National Team winger, with a possible move coming this summer.
De La Fuente has been linked with moves away from Barcelona in the past, but nothing has come to fruition since. However, with the club needing to generate funds for transfers into the new season, De La Fuente could be one of several young players who are moved.
For now De La Fuente is focused on helping Barcelona B win promotion to the Segunda Liga before considering what’s next for his future.
“I honestly haven’t thought about [next year],” De La Fuente said. “I am just focused on finishing the season as best as I can with the B team or the first team, whoever needs me, and in the summer we will see.”
Barcelona B closes out its regular season schedule this weekend against Villarreal B.