Oriol Romeu, the Barcelona reject making waves in England
He played just twice for the Catalan club before leaving for the Premier League. After a rocky spell at Chelsea, he’s now establishing himself as one of the league’s top midfielders at Southampton.
Oriol Romeu is one of the Premier League’s men of the moment. The Southampton midfielder was voted the club’s Player of the Month for September, ahead of in-form teammates Sofiane Boufal, Jay Rodriguez, Charlie Austin and Shane Long, and has impressed in his side’s solid start to the new season.
Unwanted by Barcelona
Romeu joined Chelsea as a 20 year-old back in 2011 after a difficult and unceremonious departure from Barcelona, the club through whose youth ranks he developed. He played just twice for Pep Guardiola, making his debut in the Spanish Super Cup against Sevilla, before moving to England, where he was expectantly touted ‘the new Busquets.’
A promising Chelsea career derailed by injury
Chelsea paid €5 million for his services, in spite of his inexperience, and he featured prominently in his first season, starting 17 games and coming on as a substitute in another 7. But a knee injury derailed his career at Stamford Bridge and he played just 9 games under Rafa Benítez in his second season, after which the club decided to loan him out to find him some more playing time.
A loan spell at Valencia was also disrupted by injury – a torn meniscus in his troublesome knee – and he played just 18 games for the Mestalla side before returning to Chelsea. Another spell out on loan, this time with Bundesliga side Stuttgart, saw him regain his confidence but Chelsea bosses weren’t impressed, agreeing a permanent £5 million deal with Southampton in 2015.
A fixture at Southampton
Romeu’s first season at Southampton, his fourth in a row playing for a new side, was impressive enough – 35 games and 2 goals – but the Catalan has really begun to shine this season. Now established in the Saints’ midfield, Romeu has ably filled the void left by Victor Wanyama following the Kenyan’s move to Tottenham.
So far this season he’s started 12 Premier League and Europa League games and drew plaudits for his impressive performance against Manchester City last weekend. His pass completion rate (89%) ranks among the best in the Premier League alongside Leicester City’s Danny Drinkwater, Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson. There’s even been talk of him being called up to the Spain squad by Julen Lopetegui.
Next up for Southampton are Chelsea, the club that let Romeu go after he failed to live up to the club’s lofty expectations. Will he be out for revenge? We’ll just have to wait and see.