Another fruitful product of the link between the Douala-based Samuel Eto’o Foundation and Barcelona, Franck Bagnack is arguably the less talked about of the two Cameroonians in the Barcelona B set up, but certainly is no less talented. People always prefer to big up strikers, making Jean-Marie Dongou a far more exciting prospect for people to write about, but Bagnack remains a prominent part of the Catalan set up and too is predicted to go on to do big things for the club.
Arriving at La Masia at the age of 13 in 2008, the Samuel Eto’o foundation is to thank for his arrival in Spain, as the link between the foundation and the Catalan giants facilitated his move to one of the best youth set-ups in the world. Able to play at right-back and centre-back, he will certainly look at those ex-Masia graduates who have started to make regular appearances for the first team and fancy his chances, with the likes of Martin Montoya and Marc Bartra all playing an increasingly important role in the Barcelona backline. And with the consistent refusal to purchase any defenders and focus on the youth team or reinventing defensive midfielders to centre backs, he’s got to fancy his chances.
The 2012-13 NextGen Series was where Bagnack was really allowed to make his mark. Playing both right-back and centre-back throughout the competition, the tournament modelled on the Champions League was an excellent proving ground for this young defender, in which Barcelona topped their group before being knocked out in the Round of 16 by Chelsea. Showing his robustness as well as his versatility beyond centre-back, Bagnack could be a useful player for club and country in the future, though whether he has the attacking attributes to excel in the demanding full-back roles of the Barcelona first team is debatable.
Whilst this season he has been a consistent starter for Barcelona B in the Segunda division, evidence from earlier in his career suggested he might not make it to this stage. Disciplinary issues and a significant leg injury that left him out for 15 months in 2010 means that it is all the more impressive that he has overcome these issues to become a regular player in the Segunda division. Whilst arguably only starting due to injuries to competitors for his position, his flexibility between right-back and centre-back has proved to be a valuable asset, with some of his better games in fact coming at the less familiar right-back role.
Reminiscent to a more defensive Alex Song according to Football Radar’s Joe Millyard (@FRFutbolJoe), Bagnack possesses the natural height and strength advantages to make him an ideal centre-back. Whilst issues of positioning on the field and the odd error too have occurred, Barcelona will be hoping that this is something that disappears with maturity, and he is certainly already developed an excellent level of this considering he’s playing regular football at the age of 18.
Barcelona seem to have unveiled another gem amongst their new ranks of Cameroonians in their set-up, and with the first team defence somewhat limited in their numbers, you might be seeing Franck Bagnack at the Camp Nou rather soon.
By Sam Crocker (@sam_crock)