Who is Barcelona’s new signing Martin Braithwaite?
It is probably a given that Barcelona management does not think the way the rest of the world does. After the hamstring injury to Ousman Dembele that is going to keep him on the sidelines for at least six more months and Luis Suarez's knee surgery which will keep him out of action for at least four months, Barcelona were allowed to make one signing even after the transfer window got over.
After their failed attempts to sign Rodrigo from Valencia and Richarlison from Everton, coach Quique Setien was left with options like Christian Stuani, Carlos Bacca and Jaime Mata, who all are somewhat proven goal scorers in the league. But Barcelona raised a few eyebrows once again when they signed Danish frontman Martin Braithwaite from Leganes for 18 million euros in a deal that is supposed to keep him at Camp Nou till 2024. The buyout clause set for the player is a whopping 300 million euros.
Having said that, the question that remains is, who actually is Martin Braithwaite? Let's find out.
Born in 1991, Martin Braithwaite joined his city's biggest club Esbjerg FC for four years where he scored 19 goals. After that, he moved to France to join FC Toulouse. He scored 40 goals and 15 assists in all competitions for the Ligue 1 side. His long stay in France was brought to an end at the end of 2016-17 season and he was on the move again.
This time, his destination was England as he featured for Middlesbrough in the Championship. He was loaned back to France and this time with FC Bordeaux in 2018. He played 14 games for the French team scoring four and assisting three. He played for Middlesbrough for another season and scored just nine goals in 40 matches.
He then flew to Spain to bring his career back on track with the La Liga side Leganes on loan. His season-long stay at Estadio Municipal De Butarque was a crucial one as he saved the "Cucumber Growers" from getting relegated last season. He played 27 games in all competitions last season and scored eight goals.
His ability to perform in the big games brought him under the radar of Barcelona and this is why they decided to sign him to save the season for them. Still only 28, it is expected that he would get the job done for Quique this season, however, what will his role be after the return of the big names is going to remain uncertain.
Braithwaite is naturally a centre-forward who has played in multiple positions during his career. He has played as a target man in 200 games where he has scored 55 goals and has provided 31 assists. He has also played as a left-winger 64 times, scoring 17 goals from the position.
He has also featured in left-wing and attacking midfield, depending on the need of the manager. His ability to play in multiple positions is also one of the reasons why Barcelona went for him. His eye for the goal will make him a constant threat on the flanks as well as in the box.
More than just numbers:
Although Barcelona are on the receiving end of a lot of criticism for the signing, it is a truth that Braithwaite brings more than just goals to the side. His experience of playing in multiple leagues as well as the World Cup in 2018 is going to be vital in Barcelona's title hunt.
His numbers might not be very appealing to the eye but his ability to work tirelessly is required to the Catalans. With vital players like Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi and Vidal all on the wrong side of the 30s, it was not a surprise to see the Blaugrana considering someone who can run.
Another vital factor working in the Danish forward's favour is his lack of injury. Barcelona players have a weird knack for picking up occasional niggles. If Braithwaite can stay injury-free, it will be another plus for the Catalans.
Keeping all these in mind, it is too early to comment on the possible future of Braithwaite in Barcelona shirt but one thing is for sure, if he wants to extend his stay at the Camp Nou, he must add to his goals tally.
And finally, how did he arrive in February?
Twitter has a funny response to the question; 'We're Barcelona and we can.'
With the likes of Dembele and Suarez out injured, Barcelona were left with just three attacking personnel in Messi, Antoine Griezmann and youngster Ansu Fati. Thus to avoid the mishap, the club sent an official request to La Liga in form of documents to prove how long the former Borussia Dortmund forward will be out. In turn, they were allowed to sign a player under a few conditions.
- The player should be signed within 15 days of ruling.
- Only a player playing in the La Liga can be signed.
- He cannot sign for another club for at least five months.
- He will only play in La Liga and not in the UEFA Champions League.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Josep Lago