By Ralph Chery
Paco Alcacer doesn’t get to start much for Barcelona, but when he does – he strikes! The Spanish forward has only been on the pitch for 31% of his team’s playing time in all competitions, but he’s scored four goals in the five games he’s started.
“Forwards live for goals,” the Spaniard said in his first interview as a Barcelona player last season. “I hope I’m lucky in that respect. I want to offer my grain of sand by doing good things at Barça.”
The ex-Valencia player’s latest goal was against Real Murcia in a 5-0 win in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old netted the blaugrana’s opener in the 16th minute, heading Aleix Vidal’s pass to the lower right corner of the net.
Alcacer’s most notable game this season was against Sevilla in the league on Nov. 4th, a match in which he netted both goals in a 2-1 win.
Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde explained earlier this season that the striker’s lack of minutes is only due to the club’s deep roster.
“There are 24 players in the squad and you’ll ask me every week about the players who aren’t in the team,” Valverde said when asked why he left Alcacer out of the team sheet in Barca’s 1-0 win over Sporting Lisbon on Sept. 27th.
“I can’t pick them all. UEFA won’t allow that.”
Alcacer’s scoring prowess could make some fans scream about why he’s not starting more games, but a quick glance at Barcelona’s attacking roster makes it understandable.
The Catalonian team’s top three attackers are four times Ballon D’Or winner Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, (a striker who owns Player of the Year and Golden Boot awards in three different leagues: La Liga, Premier League and Enredivisie), and one of the top young players in the world Ousmane Dembele, who made Bundesliga Team of the Season at 19, but is currently injured.
Alcacer is just a 24-year-old player who had a few mesmerizing seasons for Valencia. The Spanish native has never won an individual award and only has one winners medal: the 2015-16 Copa del Rey with Barca.
Alcacer’s aforementioned three outstanding seasons for Valencia was what attracted Barcelona. He tallied 14 goals and three assists for Los Che in 2013-14 at only 20 years of age, 16 goals and five assists the following season and 15 goals and eight assists in his last season before joining the 24-time Spanish champions.
Despite his stunning goal per start percentage and his wonder seasons at Valencia, Alcacer didn’t have a stellar career start for Barcelona. He didn’t score until his fourth month at the club, his – seventh start and 12th game in the first team.
But after Alcacer broke his goaldrought against Hercules on Dec. 21st, 2016 his boots have been obsessed with finding the net, especially when he starts games. The forward netted five goals in four starts for the remainder of last season which adds up to nine goals in nine starts going into this campaign.
“He has not played a lot and he has shown that he is a goalscorer and we are happy,” Valverde said after Alcacer’s brace against Sevilla.
The 53-year-old coach also noted that Alcacer’s goals have partially been because of the star players around him.
“I have a strong side here and anyone can come in and score,” Valverde said.
“It is to the credit of the player that he can come in with the pressure on and perform.”
Following his double against Sevilla, Alcacer earned a second consecutive start against Leganes but failed to score. The Spaniard then was an unused substitute in Barcelona’s next two outings against giants Juventus and Valencia before starting against Murcia.
The blaugrana side’s last five games before the winter break are against Celta Vigo, Sporting Lisbon, Villareal, Deportivo de la Coruna and Real Madrid respectively. Alcacer will be itching to get some more playing time to show what he can produce.