Mal­com fi­nally de­liv­ers after dif­fi­cult start at Barcelona

Gulf Times Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Mal­com cried tears of joy after scor­ing against In­ter Mi­lan in the Cham­pi­ons League on Tues­day night but his emo­tions must have marked re­lief too after a dif­fi­cult start at Barcelona.

Signed from Bordeaux for 41mn eu­ros ($47mn) in the sum­mer, the 21-year-old was al­ways cir­cled as a player for the fu­ture but his lack of in­volve­ment this sea­son has been a sur­prise. He was poor when handed a rare out­ing against Cul­tural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey last month while some have sug­gested Mal­com was signed at the be­hest of the club, not coach Ernesto Valverde, who has started him only once so far this term.

His goal at the San Siro, how­ever, sent Barca through to the knock-out stages with two games to spare, even if Mauro Icardi’s late equaliser de­nied the vis­i­tors vic­tory in Group B. “Mal­com Ex­ists”, read Diario Sport’s front page head­line yes­ter­day, while Mundo De­portivo also cen­tred on the Brazil­ian, with the head­line “Mal­com X”.

“We’re all so happy for Mal­com,” Valverde said after the match.”He gave us the edge that we had been miss­ing at other times in the game. “He has been work­ing hard to get bet­ter ev­ery day. He’s still young and there’s a lot of room for im­prove­ment.”

After fin­ish­ing off a slick Barca break with a smart left-foot fin­ish, Mal­com cel­e­brated in the cor­ner, his hands cov­er­ing his face. His team­mates soon joined him. “His tears were emo­tional,” Ser­gio Bus­quets said.

“He’s not get­ting the min­utes he wants but in train­ing he’s work­ing re­ally hard. He wants to turn things around. He’s a great kid. He’s done re­ally well and the goal will do him good. He is go­ing to help us a lot.”

Bus­quets be­lieves the crit­i­cism has also been se­vere. “It’s not fair that he’s judged on one game in the cup be­cause he had hardly played all sea­son be­fore that,” he said. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to have any sort of rhythm. There was a lot of un­fair crit­i­cism about the play­ers that played in the cup match.”

Mal­com had been linked with Tot­ten­ham and Arse­nal last year, and was on the cusp of sign­ing for Roma be­fore Barca made their move. He in­di­cated his longterm fu­ture re­mains at the Camp Nou.

“My dream with Barca is just start­ing,” Mal­com said. “My dream is to make his­tory and do big things.

I have to thank my team­mates for show­ing con­fi­dence in me. Mak­ing my de­but in the Cham­pi­ons League and scor­ing will stay in my mem­ory for­ever.”

(Reuters)

Barcelona’s Mal­colm re­acts after scor­ing against In­ter Mi­lan on Tues­day.

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