Atletico Madrid have struggled to bring through players from their academy under Diego Simeone, but Los Colchoneros look like they might be onto a good thing with 19-year-old midfielder Pablo Barrios.
During their Copa del Rey tie against Arenteiro, it was Barrios who came on to get the eventual winner in their 3-1 win, 14 minutes from time.
Simeone rewarded him with a start in central midfield against Elche on Atleti’s La Liga return, where he completed 79 minutes and earned rave reviews. In particular, his pass for Joao Felix should have led to the first goal of the game.
El pase que le mete Pablo Barrios a Joao no tiene sentido
— ParadxndeOblak (@ParadxndeOblak) December 29, 2022
Many were even describing Barrios as Atletico Madrid’s best player in their 2-0 win. He played with poise and personality in the middle of the park, supplying Antoine Griezmann, Alvaro Morata and Joao Felix with the ball.
Simeone: “Barrios is a boy who plays the ball without fear, with personality, with responsibility, with sacrifice, with a vision of the game, and wanting to play forward”
— Lavo (@LigaLavo) December 30, 2022
Speaking after the match, he told the cameras that he “still couldn’t believe what was happening to me.”
“I’m proud, it’s a dream. I think I’m growing, from my debut off the bench in La Liga, then the Champions League and now my first start.”
❝Estoy muy contento por esta oportunidad. Es un orgullo y todo un sueño❞.
— Pablo Barrios 🎙 pic.twitter.com/Ibm8Loopp9
— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) December 30, 2022
Barrios has previously had cameos in defeats to Porto and Cadiz, but able to influence matters from the first minute, he took full advantage of his opportunity.
As per Relevo, Los Colchoneros are already looking into a contract renewal for Barrios. He has a deal until 2025, but following these showings, there will no doubt be interest if they do not hand him a bigger deal. Conversations had been started before the Elche match, but the more performances like this one, the bigger the numbers will get.