Dani Alves ‘the future of Barcelona’ – Demir

Image copyright AFP Image caption Demir, the son of a Kosovo Albanian, moved to Barcelona as a five-year-old

During Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Eibar, Dani Alves came out to warm up at the Nou Camp only to run into the path of Yusuf Demir.

A very important part of Demir’s game on Saturday – though, you only really noticed the skills.

Demir had been part of Barcelona’s reserves for a couple of seasons – unlike the rest of his team-mates, he was starting in their final friendly. It was a chance to impress in front of Barcelona’s American investors and kick off the next stage of his development.

The club have funded the 37-year-old to help him cut out a feature he has lacked his whole life – the ability to shoot from distance.

Demir, a left-back, previously struck the ball fairly well, but didn’t have an obviously striking shot.

Until Saturday.

He whipped in a stunning shot straight at a couple of the Eibar goalkeepers, one of which Jonathan Navarro pulled off a fantastic reaction save to get his fingertips to it and save what could have been a certain goal.

Demir then did one better, cannoning a shot from 18 yards out high into the Eibar net, forcing his team-mates to celebrate their first goal of the season.

Demir has a habit of doing this.

Two seasons ago, Demir tore through Barcelona’s youth team, scoring five goals in 21 matches. Since then, Demir has fallen out of favour at Barcelona’s training ground.

This time last year, De Gea and Griezmann swapped by the end of the season. Ever since, the teams have kept a firm eye on each other, with the rivalry also turning into a national one in a matter of months.

With support from the club’s shareholders, Demir has started eight of the last 13 games – all in the league – scoring six goals and helping the club to a healthy five points.

There is no sign of a return to the senior team, though.

Demir is a journeyman in the truest sense of the word. Born in Kosovo – where he lived until the age of five before moving to France – he has largely spent the last 13 years at the club that has provided him with the biggest opportunity of his career.

Any differences between Demir and his team-mates, such as the younger brother of Leandro Paredes, born a year after Demir was at Barcelona, are due to the differences in names.

Even so, you could have a pretty good argument for the fact that Demir is the ‘future of the team’ of Barcelona.

Live follow-up, in pictures from his latest home

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