Martin Braithewaite was transferred to FC Barcelona last month. And his transfer sparked many a debate in world Football. Despite the La Liga having very particular rules about transfers, Barcelona were given the right to sign a replacement striker after Ousmane Dembele picked up a long-term injury. Overall, his sporadic transfer after Barcelona triggered the Leganes striker’s release clause sparked many a footballing fan up in debates on whether he would make the cut at the Blaugrana, and whether it was a fair decision on behalf of the FA.
One question on my lips, and I assume a lot of people’s lips, is: How will he fare as a striker in a top european side?
In this experiment, we will be taking a look at Martin Braithewaite and his performances over the course of a season as a replacement striker for Barcelona.
Having started his career in his home country of Denmark, he was quickly picked up for his pace. His skill to not only dribble past an opponent, but also strike the ball sweetly was picked up early by Toulouse FC. He played in France for four years before Middlesbrough decided to try him out in the Championship. He struggled to find his place in the squad.
A brief loan back to France with Bordeaux and another weak season in the Championship saw the Danish striker finally move to Spain with Leganes. Barcelona have now signed him after triggering his release clause of €18M, but how good is Martin Braithewaite really? His stats would suggest he’s a decent striker. Having racked up 68 goals in just under 300 games, he is, by no accounts, a prolific striker. Being an advanced forward by trade, his can also play out on both wings rather well, and that versatility is probably a main reason why Barcelona decided to take a gamble on him.
His attributes suggest he is a well rounded player, with good attacking prowess with pace to boot. His standout attribute is his overall flair, at 16, which would seem to fit in well with the type of players alongside him at Barcelona, with the likes of Messi, Dembele and Griezmann being the most unpredictable of players. Pace would allow fluid movement off the ball, in a Tiki-Taka formation, which Barcelona are famous for using. Both attributes stand at 14 and 15 respectively. All in all, he seems to really fit in to this Barcelona side, despite the fact the Assistant Manager considers him surplus to requirements, even in his prime.
For tactics, I feel obliged to use the famous Tiki-Taka tactic, dominated by Barcelona in Spain and Europe. I will mainly be training a 4-1-4-1 formation with Braithewaite up front, as attacking options in the squad are rather slim to be using a 4-2-3-1. Braithewaite will be up front for both formations and as much as possible, to see how well he does throughout the season.
I will be holidaying throughout most of the games, taking a look at the performances throughout the season and making tweaks when needed to see out the season without being sacked (hopefully!).
So just how did this season go? Did the tactic fail to live up to expectations? Did Martin Braithewaite struggle in front of goal? Was he overlooked in favor of Lionel Messi? Well, the short answer is no… And yes…
“F” IN MANAGEMENT
So the board weren’t particularly happy with my performance over the season. Mainly because we DIDN’T win La Liga, we DIDN’T win the Champions League, we DIDN’T win the Copa Del Rey… But we DID win the Supercopa. It was a mediocre season for FC Barcelona. The board, however, were happy with other particulars in the season, for example we had solid squad dynamics, and the tactics somewhat worked throughout the season. Firstly, the Inside Forwards were lethal in every aspect on the field, with Lionel Messi racking up 28 assists on the right wing. As one of the best players in the world, the Argentinian also picked up the award for top goalscorer for the club, with 23 strikes. However, we’re not here to talk about Lionel Messi and the club’s performance. We’re here to talk about Barcelona’s star striker: Martin Braithewaite. How did he get on?
Surprisingly, Braithewaite was rather prolific in front of goal for Los Cules this season, hitting the back of the net 22 times in 50 games, just one less than Lionel Messi. He also managed 4 assists in those 50 games, which is to be expected from an Advanced Forward. At 28 years old, that is no mean feat.
The start of the season was rough. However his first goal came against Athletic Bilbao, in the league where he scored Barca’s second goal of the game. He then didn’t score for almost the entire month before netting their second in a game against Celta Vigo.
He didn’t score a single goal in a very hard October. They took on Salzburg and Dortmund in the Champions League. November proved to be a tough month for Barcelona as well. But a brace of goals in the Classico solidified his name in every Barcelona fans minds. The game was won 2-1.. Despite scoring against Dortmund, Barca suffered their first defeat in the Champions League before failing to net a goal for the rest of the month.
Importantly they regrouped in December, and Braithewaite netted 3 in 4 to allow Barca an unbeaten month. He continued in this fashion for the next few months, scoring a couple of goals every few games and having quiet games every now and again.
As Barca qualified for the 1st knockout round of the Champions League, Braithewaite scored 4 goals in the first leg against Galatasaray. A monumental performance that saw them through to the next round against PSG. Continuing his goalscoring run, Barca failed to score more than one goal as they fell to a 6-1 defeat on aggregate to PSG in the quarter finals. A mediocre performance in the league saw them drop to 4th, where they remained until the final days of the season.
All in all, Martin Braithewaite’s season was surprising. Above all he gave Barcelona an extra edge they might not have had if he wasn’t there. The fans were happy, the board were happy, I was happy.
Despite having a good season for Barcelona, his attributes never really changed throughout the course of it. He gained a little bit of Acceleration, but at 28 years old it isn’t as easy as it was to progress at blinding speed.
Meanwhile, playing for a top club didn’t have much of an effect on his International appearances. He gained only one appearance throughout the season, with Denmark going for Kasper Dohlberg up front.
Despite all this, I would consider Martin Braithewaite’s season at Barcelona a success. His performances were overly satisfying, and he became an influential player at the club in only one season. I think that, for €18 million, Braithewaite could be considered a very good deal for Barcelona. A player that could play for a couple of seasons before moving on, at age 30, to a smaller club.
Overall, this experiment worked out very well. I didn’t think that Braithewaite’s season would be so good, but I guess with players like Lionel Messi backing you up, it can only go well.
I really enjoyed writing this experiment, and you can be assured that there will be more!
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