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BARCELONA

Barça running the rule over five La Masia first-team candidates

Ernesto Valverde will take 22 players to Japan where Iñaki Peña, Oriol Busquets, Riqui Puig, Collado and Carles Pérez will be given a chance to stake their claims.

Barça running the rule over five La Masia first-team candidates
David Ramos Getty Images

FC Barcelona have announced the 19 players who will report back to Camp Nou on Sunday to undergo medical checks ahead of the first training session of the new season with 19 first team members and five promising youngsters at Ernesto Valverde’s disposition.

The regular squad players who will be back at work on Sunday number 14: Manc-Andre ter Stegen, Nelson Semedo, Gerard Piqué, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Jean-Clair Todibo, Ousmane Dembélé, Rafinha, Malcom, Clément Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Carles Aleñá and Samuel Umtiti. Players involved in the Copa América, among them Leo Messi, Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suárez, will not be obliged to report back.

Neto, Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann will join up with the squad on Monday but the five Barça B players making up the numbers will be of the most interest to Barcelona fans. Iñaki Peña, Oriol Busquets, Riqui Puig, Collado and Carles Pérez will form part of the 22-player squad for Japan and Valverde has every inclination to give them the chance to prove themselves worthy of promotion to the first team ahead of the new season.

Barça B players to be handed chance in Japan

None of those five players is a central defender, which suggests that Umtiti and Todibo will be handed the back-up roles in the heart of the back four next season while the inclusion of Oriol Busquets is a final opportunity for the defensive midfielder to prove he can eventually replace his namesake Sergio in that role.

Midfielders Collado and Puig are seen as two of the most promising payers to come through the famed La Masia academy in recent years while keeper Iñaki Peña has already tasted the Barcelona bench when he filled in for Jasper Cillessen during the Dutchman’s injury layoff.

A lesser known-quantity is striker Pérez, who will be handed the most tantalizing chance of all the youngsters in Japan. With Barça not keen on repeating an experiment like that of Kevin-Prince Boateng, if there are no further signings for the font line before the transfer window closes the 21-year-old will be handed the job of backing up Messi, Suárez and Griezmann next season.