Jonathan Soriano, in my opinion, is one of the better players to come out of Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy to not make an impact in the senior squad. The twenty seven year old striker currently plays in Austria’s Bundesliga for Red Bull Salzburg, following a million euro move from Camp Nou in January 2012.
As with a lot of the cantera that pass through La Masia, Soriano started as a youth at Espanyol, where he was on the books for a decade, between 2000 and 2009. While with the club, he had three spells on loan, at Almeria, Poli Ejido, and Albacete. He wasn’t the most prolific striker during these loan spells, and the same can be said for his time in the Espanyol first team. However, stats don’t tell the whole story, do they? He was often played out of position, on the wing or in midfield, so it’s understandable that his goal return wasn’t the best.
In July 2009, neighbours Barcelona picked him up for their B team, and he found his scoring boots almost immediately. He only spent two and a half years with Barca B, but boy did he grab some goals. His Wikipedia page says he scored fifty nine goals in eighty four games, although some other sites have slightly different numbers, but one thing is clear; when he’s played as an out and out striker, he knows where the goal is.
As his contract at Camp Nou was running down, and due to the fact that he had only made one brief substitute appearance for the first team, Soriano announced that he would not be accepting a contract renewal at the club, and that prompted his transfer to Salzburg in the 2012 winter transfer window. Since moving to Austria, the goals have continued to flow for Soriano. So far, he has thirty three goals in his forty eight games for Red Bull, and is involved in one of my favourite football stories of recent times.
On April 20th, 2013, Soriano was in hospital with his partner, witnessing the birth of their third child. Due to a delay in the birth of their daughter, whom they named Abril, Soriano missed the first half of the match against Wolfsberger. However, he arrived at the ground in time to be a halftime substitute. He came on at the start of the second half, and with the score at the interval standing at 2-2, he proceed to score a hattrick to inspire his side to an emphatic 6-2 win. Quite the day for Senor Soriano!
However, not everything goes according to plan, as this penalty miss will testify:
At international level, Soriano was capped at every age level from under-17 to under-21, scoring an impressive twenty eight goals in twenty nine combined appearances. He has played four times for the Catalan team, scoring once, but has never been capped at senior level. That chance has possibly passed him by, although if he continues to bang the goals in at the rate he is doing, then who knows?
As I said at the top of the article, I think Soriano is one of those “what could have been” players. I definitely think that he could have scored goals for the Barcelona first team, but obviously the coaches and management over the years thought differently, despite his scoring record for the B team. I mean, can you think of a La Masia product who is scoring on a more regular basis for another club other than Barca?