Who is Xavi's new Barcelona striker Ferran Jutgla?
Ferran Jutglà spent nine years at boyhood club Espanyol but was released in the summer, Snapped up by Barcelona, he scored on his first start under Xavi.
The ban on football fans in stadiums during the coronavirus pandemic last season saved Ferran Jutglà from a chorus of jeers. It was 18:40 on a cold Sunday afternoon, 13 December, 2020, and the Espanyol striker had just beaten Barcelona defender Arnau Tenas to a ball to head home and level the score at 1-1 in a Catalan derby between Espanyol B and Barça B, in the old Segunda División B. Jutglà celebrated with the impudence of youth, taking off his captain’s armband and kissing it. The scene for this declaration of love for his club was the Johan Cruyff stadium, the home of Barcelona’s reserve team. A year later, on 18 December, he scored on his first start for Barcelona’s senior side against Elche at Camp Nou. So how did Jutglà go from being Espanyol’s B team captain to Xavi’s latest sensation for a Barcelona side shorn of attacking personnel?
Jutglà a boyhood Espanyol fan
It has been a remarkable 370 days for Jutglà, a right winger and forward who spent nine years in the Espanyol academy having joined at the age of 13 in 2012, with loan spells at Valencia and Sant Andreu. Few can doubt Jutglà’s gesture in kissing the captains’ armband he rose to wear: he was among the Espanyol fans who ran on to the pitch in elation when Los Pericos qualified for the Europa League on the final day of the 2018-19 season. Jutglà’s only appearance for the senior side came on the final day pf the following season, when an already relegated Espanyol played Celta in a game that nobody much cared about. Espanyol’s coach that day was Francisco Joaquín Pérez Rufete, who a year later as the club’s sporting director took the decision not to renew the forward’s contract.
Despite playing every game last season and scoring 13 goals across 2019-20 and 2020-21, the Espanyol academy did not think he had what it took to make the first team and did not offer him an extension on his deal, which expired last summer. The player was informed and took it on the chin, his representatives saying that his first choice would always be Espanyol despite interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as clubs in Serie A.
On 9 June, Rufete was interviewed by AS and asked how Espanyol an prevent a player from moving to Barcelona. “If what the player’s entourage wants is money, we won’t play that game. At Espanyol, those that succeed are the ones that want to be here.”
Many have crossed the great Catalan divide, from Ricardo Zamora – whose name adorns the annual LaLiga goalkeeping trophy – to Jordi Cruyff, Rufete himself, Simão and Philippe Coutinho. A few weeks later, Jutglà had been snapped up by Barcelona after his contract at the RCDE expired, leaving Espanyol’s academy chief, Luis Vicente Mateo, to note dryly: “At Espanyol, players have their own names. At other clubs they are sometimes just numbers and sometimes this has to be explained to their families. We have become Barça’s biggest catchment area.”
Jutglà fast-tracked by Xavi
Following four goals and four assists for Barcelona B this season, Jutglà was elevated to the senior squad by Xavi and made a late debut appearance against Osasuna before scoring a splendid goal against Boca in the Maradona Cup. Against Elche, with Memphis, Martin Braithwaite and Ansu Fati all unavailable, Xavi handed Jutglà his first start as Luuk de Jong watched from the bench. He opened the scoring after 16 minutes and left the pitch after 72 minutes to an ovation from Camp Nou, having hit the target with three of his four attempts.
It remains to be seen where he goes from here, but given Xavi’s faith in Barcelona’s younger players and ongoing injury issues, it seems likely that Jutglà will at least be given the opportunity to establish himself as a first-team player at Camp Nou, a year after being discarded by their city rivals.