Barcelona has completed a deal for Spanish winger Jose Arnaiz, who joins the Catalan club from Segunda side Real Valladolid for a fee of €3.4 million. The price Barça paid for Arnaiz can rise to €4 million if he is promoted to the first team or earns a cap for Spain. The player has signed a three-year contract, with a club option for two additional seasons.
Although Arnaiz projects to be a Barça B signing in the immediate future, the fee, add-ons and circumstances of his contract make it clear he was not signed just to make up the numbers and provide depth for the B team. Arnaiz is touted as a player who can approach the first team if he continues his development, which accelerated last season when he scored 12 league goals and assisted on four others.
As will be the case with all signings that involve similar fees and level of player, there is an impulse to say Barcelona is trying to make up for missing out on Marco Asensio with this deal. Arnaiz is four years older than Asensio was when he signed for Real Madrid, so there is a chance his ceiling doesn’t rise above the Segunda level, but with a signing like this and rumored interested in Ligue 1 prospects like Maxime Lopez and Myziane Maolida, it is clear Barcelona’s technical staff is trying to supplement La Masia with other promising young players.
Arnaiz is a tricky winger who can also play centrally in an attacking midfield role. He is clean on the ball and has good pace in transition, which are the qualities that Barça B coach Gerard Lopez sought for his side. With intriguing La Masia graduate Seung-Woo Lee off to Hellas Veronas for €1.5 million (though Barcelona can buy him back after two seasons), Arnaiz will likely be Lopez’s first-choice starter on the left wing.
It seems unlikely that Arnaiz would make any kind of impact for the first team this season, but because Barça B and La Masia in general is light on natural wingers at the moment, he might be Ernesto Valverde’s emergency option in the event Denis Suarez or Gerard Deulofeu miss any period of time.
Normally I wouldn’t pay much attention to any signings that don’t have a clear connection to the first team, but in Arnaiz’s case, the board has clearly signed him with the expectation he can challenge for a spot in Valverde’s squad sometime soon, and it will be interesting to see if their bet will pay off.