The 7 Barcelona subs for Pep Guardiola’s last game: Where are they now?

 
 
Victor Valdes of Middlesbrough shows appreciation to the fans while warming up prior to The Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final match between Middlesbrough and Manchester City at Riverside...

We cast our mind back to Pep Guardiola’s last game in charge of Barcelona.

That game was a 3-0 win the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao, with goals from Lionel Messi and a Pedro brace ensuring a comfortable final game in charge for the departing boss. That win handed Guardiola an extraordinary 14th trophy in four years managing Barcelona, a haul which included three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues.

Here are the 7 Barcelona subs for Pep Guardiola’s last game: Where are they now?

7. Victor Valdes - Retired

Pep Guardiola chose to stick with his ‘cup goalkeeper’ in the form of Jose Manuel Pinto for the 2012 Copa del Rey final, meaning usual number one Victor Valdes had to settle for a place on the bench. An outstanding goalkeeper in his prime, Valdes was a product of Barca’s famous La Masia academy, and he spent a total of 12 years in the club’s first team. During that time, Valdes made 535 appearances, which is the sixth most in Barcelona history, and won 21 trophies. He left the club for miserable spell at Manchester United in 2014, but hung up his boots in 2017, after brief stints at Standard Liege and Middlesbrough.

6. Marc Bartra - Real Betis

Isco Alarcon  of Real Madrid competes for the ball with Marc Bartra of Real Betis during the La Liga match between Real Betis and Real Madrid at Benito Villamrin stadium on February 18,...Isco Alarcon of Real Madrid competes for the ball with Marc Bartra of Real Betis during the La Liga match between Real Betis and Real Madrid at Benito Villamrin stadium on February 18,...

Another player who came through the youth ranks at La Masia, Marc Bartra just seemed to be ‘one for the future’ for a little too long, before the Catalan giants eventually sold him to Borussia Dortmund. The Spanish international had a tumultuous time in the Bundesliga, enjoying mixed form and being injured in a bombing attack on Dortmund’s team bus. Thankfully, Bartra was okay in the end, and he returned to Spain in January with a £9 million+ move to Real Betis. He has made a good start to life back in La Liga, and he will be playing in the Europa League with Betis next season.

5. Cesc Fabregas - Chelsea

Cesc Fabregas’ move from Arsenal to Barcelona was one of the most drawn out transfer sagas in memory. Ultimately, the World Cup winner rejoined his boyhood club for about £27 million in 2011. He went on to spend three seasons at the Camp Nou, during which time he made 151 appearances and won six trophies. One of the finest central midfielders of his generation, Fabregas is an exceptionally intelligent footballer and a wonderful passer of the ball. He returned to the Premier League with a move to Chelsea in 2014, where he has since won two league titles.

4. Thiago - Bayern Munich

Thiago Alcantara of FC Bayern Muenchen reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg match between Real Madrid and Bayern Muenchen at the Bernabeu on May 1, 2018 in Madrid,...Thiago Alcantara of FC Bayern Muenchen reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg match between Real Madrid and Bayern Muenchen at the Bernabeu on May 1, 2018 in Madrid,...

It seems incredible to think any team could have two central midfielders of the calibre of Cesc Fabregas and Thiago sat on their bench for a cup final, and then you remember that Barcelona midfield trio was Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and it all becomes a little easier to understand. Nevertheless, Thiago is a seriously gifted playmaker, with tremendous technique and that rare ability of being able to pass a ball through the eye of a needle. Every player in this seven so far began their career at La Masia, and Thiago is no exception. He racked up just over a century of appearances for Barcelona, before reuniting with Pep Guardiola at current club Bayern Munich, in what was an exceptional piece of business for the Bavarian outfit.

3. Seydou Keita - Retired

A bit of an unsung hero for Barcelona between 2008 and 2012, I think a lot of people would be surprised by how many appearances the tireless midfield all-rounder made at the Camp Nou. At this point I should probably state how many… 188 in 4 seasons, which is an average of 47 games a season. Given the competition for central midfield spots in that Barca side, that is some feat. Keita is also Mali’s all time record scorer, which isn’t bad going for essentially a holding midfielder. After leaving Catalonia in 2012, he became one of the first big name players to swap Europe for China, before returning to Spain with Valencia, and later turning out for Roma in Serie A, and El Jaish, in Qatar. He hung up his boots after that final stint in 2017.

2. Ibrahim Afellay - Stoke City

Ibrahim Afellay of Stoke City during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on December 30, 2017 in London, England.Ibrahim Afellay of Stoke City during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on December 30, 2017 in London, England.

We previously looked at Zidane’s first bench at Real Madrid, it included this season's Stoke City loanee Jese Rodriguez - and this seven features another former Champions League winner who turned out for relegated Stoke City in the form of Ibrahim Afellay. One of the common misconceptions about Afellay, in England at least, is that he is still a young or promising player, when he’s actually 32 - 3 years older than Diego Costa! Afellay made his name as a bright and technical attacking midfielder or left winger at PSV. He was named as Dutch Football Talent of the Year in 2007, and reached a World Cup final with Holland in 2010, before joining Barcelona for a relatively paltry fee.

He failed to break through at the Camp Nou, joining Stoke in 2015, where he has had numerous injury struggles and will be a Championship player next season if he remains with the club.

1. Cristian Tello - Real Betis

A teammate of Marc Bartra’s at Real Betis, the former Barcelona duo are probably the two best players at the Estadio Benito Villamarin right now. Best known as a really pacy youngster who could play on either flank or through the middle during his time at Barca, Tello only actually left the club in 2017, although he was out on-loan for every one of his last three seasons. Tello is still quick, but not quite so young - aged 26 - and the once-capped Spanish international scored 6 goals and made 3 assists in 31 outings for Betis this season.

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