Another young American appears poised to compete in the UEFA Champions League.
US youth international Konrad de la Fuente has been called into the Barcelona matchday squad for the first time ahead of a clash against Napoli Saturday at Camp Nou.
The 19-year-old Miami native, who helped lead the US U-20 national team to the quarterfinals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup last summer, is one of nine Barca B players called up because six first-team regulars are ruled out.
Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal are suspended, Ousmane Dembele and Samuel Umtiti are injured, Martin Braithwaite is ineligible because he signed with the club after the Jan. 31 UEFA deadline and Arthur reportedly told Barcelona he doesn’t want to play for the club again ahead of his move to Juventus. Nonetheless, playing time might be hard to come by for de la Fuente on Saturday on a squad that features attacking luminaries such as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Ansu Fati.
De La Fuente, who has trained with the first team for the last two weeks, has impressed with the reserves this year and signed a new contract in June. The winger scored a pair of goals in the third division playoffs, helping Barca B reach the final where they were beaten and missed on promotion to the second division.
De La Fuente joined Barca’s La Masia academy in 2014, and has steadily progressed through the youth ranks. He will join the ranks of two other North American exports, the USA's Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) and Canada's Alphonso Davies, competing this weekend in the Champions League.
Barca and Napoli drew 1-1 in the opening leg of the round of 16 in February.