UEFA.com runs the rule over 17-year-old Barcelona forward Jordi Mboula following a goal in midweek that sent social media into a frenzy.
Name: Jordi Mboula
Born: 16 March 1999
Preferred foot: right
They say ...
"When you have players of such quality you can prepare for a lot – but then they pop up and there is nothing you can do to stop it."
Barcelona Youth League coach Gabri after Mboula's stunning solo goal against Dortmund
"He's an explosive player, different to others. He's very good in one-on-one situations but, above all, he has absolutely searing pace – that's what defines him."
Barcelona and Spain team-mate Juan Brandariz
"Jordi Mboula masquerades as Leo Messi to score a stunner"
Headline in Spanish newspaper Sport after that goal v Dortmund
The son of a Congolese father and Spanish mother, Mboula was born in the town of Granollers – 30km from Barcelona. His parents had previously met in China and Mboula spent two years there as a child before returning to the Iberian peninsula. His football career began aged nine with six months at local team Amelia del Vallès before he joined Granollers and, within a year, Barcelona.
— UEFA Youth League (@UEFAYouthLeague) February 23, 2017
He has excelled at youth level with the Blaugrana and Spain, though his career has taken a major upward trajectory this season. Despite being just 17, his goalscoring exploits – his incredible solo effort against Dortmund on Wednesday was his sixth goal in six UEFA Youth League games – have prompted a call-up to the Spain U19s and involvement in first-team training. His contract expires next summer but plans are afoot to offer fresh terms.
The narrative surrounding Mboula is his electric pace. In Spain they call him a 'jugador explosivo', which would roughly translate as someone lightning quick out of the blocks. He possesses an uncanny ability to slow things down then gallop past an opponent from a standing start. His goalscoring return this term shows he is also well blessed with composure.
While at Barcelona the talk may often be of finding the next Xavi Hernández or Andrés Iniesta, in Mboula they have a player spoken of in the same breath as Thierry Henry. With his talent to play stop-start, cut inside and produce a fine finish it is not hard to see why they nickname him 'Titi' – as the former No14 was known. Considering his natural athletic gifts, eye for goal and professional lifestyle off the pitch belying his tender years, Camp Nou insiders are quietly confident they have unearthed yet another gem at La Masia.
For those who do not religiously follow Barcelona's youth set-up, eyes were opened when Mboula was one of four Blaugrana youngsters called up to train alongside the first team in January. However, undoubtedly the moment he properly announced himself to the world was earlier this week.
With the clock ticking down and Barcelona leading 3-1 in their UEFA Youth League last-16 tie against Dortmund, many would have expected retaining possession and slowing things down to be top of the agenda. Not for Mboula. A pirouette, turn of pace and a shimmy saw the fleet-footed winger cover half the pitch in the blink of an eye before retaining a cool head to slot under the keeper, seal victory and send social media into meltdown.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 22, 2017
In the short term, the teenager should forge a way into Gerard López's Barcelona B side and look to secure a regular starting berth next season. In the medium to long-term he should have his sights on a place in the senior squad and becoming the latest cab off the rank from arguably the world's most revered academy.
He's just a normal boy ...
While he might be destined for a bright future, the softly-spoken Mboula is just a normal 17-year-old and his hobbies include going to the cinema and going out jogging.
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