Chelsea loanee Gael Kakuta made an impression during Rayo Vallecano’s 2-0 close defeat at home to Barcelona and outperformed Lionel Messi in one key area.
The 23-year-old attacking midfielder moved to the Spanish capital during the summer as the youngster bids to get his career back on track.
The former French U21 international was highly regarded as one of the best talents in Europe during his teenage years, prompting the Blues to controversially poach him from French club Lens in 2007.
Within his first few months at the club, Kakuta wowed his teammates on the training pitch with former player Michael Ballack once advising reporters to go and see the West Londoners’ then-Academy Scholar of the Year.
Since then, however, it’s been an uphill struggle for the former star as a number of failed loan spells both in England and across Europe have stalled his progression.
At Rayo and under the guidance of flamboyant boss Paco Jemez, things have certainly started to improve for Kakuta and a positive showing against La Liga giants Barcelona will give his confidence a huge boost.
Starting on the left of an attacking quartet lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Kakuta took 49 touches – the same as Neymar and just one fewer than Spanish wizard Andres Iniesta.
The area where he shone - and even outperformed Lionel Messi - was his ability to successfully waltz past his opponents. He completed five successful dribbles, the most on the pitch and four more than Messi.
The Argentine maestro, however, didn't play badly himself, racking up a total of eight shots and scoring the opener with a sublime left-footed chip over the goalkeeper.
According to Whoscored.com, Kakuta recorded an overall score of 6.94 – the second highest in his team - whereas Messi scored a 7.35.
The former Lens prodigy's spell to date in La Liga has been the best he has recorded since his teenage years, scoring two goals in seven appearances and recording on average 2.4 successful dribbles per game.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho will be keeping tabs on his progress, and more performances of this ilk could finally see Kakuta edge towards the awesome potential he possesses.