Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo reports that Barça will promote the two Spain U-21 internationals, central defender Andreu Fontas (20) and midfielder Thiago Alcantara (19) from the B team in January, in order to address the shortage of players in the first team when the schedule gets tighter ahead of the second half of the season.
Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has already stated that, “unless there are ‘exceptional circumstances’, there will be no new additions at the club in the January transfer window”, and that, “the club will look into the academy for ‘new’ signings”.
Although Barça are closely following the development of all youngsters in Luis Enrique’s side, there are two names that currently stand out above the rest: Both are the favorites to be promoted in January and will reportedly be included in the first-team sheet, a circumstance that would prevent them from returning to Barcelona B.
Guardiola currently has only three central defenders on the first team squad, namely Puyol, Pique and Milito, and Mundo Deportivo reports that Fontas, who will turn 21 on November 14, is now ready to make the final leap. He is a left-sided central defender, a position in which Guardiola currently has only one natural player, in the form of injured Argentine international Gaby Milito. Fellow central defenders and Spanish youth internationals namely Marc Bartra (19), who started alongside Fontas on Tuesday at Ceuta, Marc Muniesa (18), who debuted in the Primera Liga in 2008-09 and was a substitute in the Champions League final in Rome and Sergi Gómez (18), who debuted in the Super Cup 1st leg in Seville, will all remain in the B team for now and will be called up in case of emergency.
As for Thiago, his contract expires in June 2011 and is conditioned to be automatically extended until June 2013 if he makes the first team sheet by January 31. Otherwise, the son of Mazinho will be free to negotiate with another club. Pep meanwhile has a lot of faith in the young midfielder, and has long been keeping track of his evolution.