34. Sandro Ramírez
The personal and professional growth of Sandro Ramírez in the past season was extraordinary. Sandro transformed from a discarded asset at Barcelona, the club where he developed, to an indisputable starter in Míchel’s Málaga. It wasn’t that Sandro gained a greater footballing IQ overnight; what did change was his ability and his prerogative; to score the most goals possible. The young Spaniard could work in the area where he is most effective, the penalty area.
Gone were the days of Sandro spending his few minutes of gametime aimlessly running up and down the wing, and so too was the feeling of insecurity that prevented his progress for years. He turned a new page, and above all, he dodged the prospect of his career ending before it had even begun. He made us all believe again.
Sandro is a La Masia product, and he was given his debut in the first team by Luis Enrique. His goalscoring instinct was a pleasant surprise, and he helped support the team’s attack as Luis Suárez served his suspension. Together with Munir, Sandro demonstrated that his days at Barcelona B were over, but there was not a niche for him, especially not at 9, with Suárez continuing his world class performance levels. Sandro ended the 2014/15 season winning every trophy possible, culminating a “dream season” for any given academy product.
The following season would be as much of a different situation for Munir as it was for him. They stopped being interesting alternatives to a second-string budget options who rarely played at all. And when they did play, they played in positions that did not play to their strengths. This season, the most criticized one was Sandro. The press lambasted him for not knowing how to take responsibility, for not having a “killer” bone in his body even was a winger, but the truth is, he did his best playing out of position.
In Luis Enrique’s third and final season, Sandro left the city that saw him grow as a footballer, as he chose to seek new horizons. He left Barcelona permanently, yet did not leave Spain as many rumors had suggested. Instead, he moved his talent to Málaga, where they rolled out the red carpet for him to become the attacking leader of the team. And it resulted in a miracle.
He did not leave for Italy, Germany or England as other La Masia products had done, but instead stayed in the league that he debuted and developed in. He needed another year to catch fire, and in Málaga, he was nothing less than the point-of-reference for the attack, just what he needed to utilize his attacking instinct, and he did not let Los Boquerones down. He scored around a goal every other game, numbers that most any other forward would envy. His goals helped Málaga gain important points, such as the victory against FC Barcelona.
At 21, he landed in England and has now joined up with Ronald Koeman’s Everton. At this moment, Sandro is the chosen one to replace their best player, Romelu Lukaku, who has left for Manchester United. Sandro is not the only new addition on Everton, as the Toffees also bought Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford, Davy Klaassen and Henry Onyekuru. However, he stands out due to his age, price, and his previous season.
Despite interest from Atlético de Madrid, Sevilla and Real Madrid, Ramírez decided to try his luck in an English club, who, at first sight, opened their doors for him. Will it be the best decision for his career? Before, it was very rare to see a Spanish player in English football, but now, it’s a regular occurrence. Sandro will enjoy playing for Koeman’s intriguing project as he grows as a player. He has demonstrated that as a striker, he knows when to run and when to dish it off to the wings in search of a better option. We all know that when team wishes to control the flow of the game, yet also play quickly, Sandro will shine, owing to his abilities that he has gained in his three years in La Liga.
A little over two years ago, Sandro was on the top of the world. He had won the treble, but at the same time, he was nothing more than a raw, off-the-bench academy option. He was locked out of the first team, cast out to sea, and found himself washed up on the shores of the Andalusian coastline. From Málaga to Everton, he has finally proven his value as a starting striker, and will take England by storm.
By: Maria Viloría/@Maria_viloria. Translated by Zach Lowy/@ZCalcio.
Photo: Louie Hendy/@LH_BCFC