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New Delhi, July 20 – Oriol Romeu is coming home. After a great season with Girona FC in LaLiga EA Sports and a decade in English football, the 31-year-old will once again wear the Blaugrana jersey as he looks to replace the now-departed Sergio Busquets in the holding midfield role.
Last season, Romeu played for Girona FC where he had a great season under coach Michel, who said in a press conference that Oriol has made him a better coach and that he will be a huge loss.
Romeu can bring experience and tranquillity to Xavi’s midfield. In addition, he is a home-grown player with Barca DNA. He dominates positional play to perfection, has personality and strong leadership skills. He’s a team player who knows how to cover his teammates’ backs.
Here are five things you might not know about the reigning LaLiga EA Sports champions’ newest star.
He’s now linking up with old teammates
Oriol is the latest player to return to Barça years after leaving the club. 12 years on since his departure for Chelsea, the Ulldecona native is back in the Catalan capital, where he’ll link up with club captain Sergi Roberto, with whom he coincided at Barca’s reserve side Barça Atletic. He also played at the 2012 Olympic Games with fellow new signing Inigo Martínez, and with Marcos Alonso in the Spanish U19 side.
He has previous experience in LaLiga EA Sports
Oriol spent much of his career abroad, representing Chelsea and Southampton in England, as well as Stuttgart in Germany. But it was in Spanish football that Romeu took his first steps in senior football. After coming through the RCD Espanyol academy and then FC Barcelona’s famed La Masia, he played for Luis Enrique’s impressive Barcelona B side before making two appearances with Pep Guardiola’s senior Barça team, including his LaLiga Santander debut vs RC Deportivo in 2011. He’d later spend the 2013/14 season on loan with Valencia CF, making another 13 appearances in Spain’s top division for Los Che.
He is an Olympian
Though he has never featured for the Spanish national team at senior level, Romeu was such a hot prospect as a teenager that he played for all the various Spanish youth categories. The midfielder was then part of the Spain squad that competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London – as was Inigo Martinez – featuring in matches against Japan and Morocco.
A love of literature he shares with Juan Mata
In his free time, Oriol reads a lot, but this wasn’t always the case. It was when he coincided with fellow Spanish midfielder Juan Mata at Chelsea that Romeu really started to take an interest in literature, with the World Cup winner advising Romeu to pick up as many books as possible. He took that to heart, and he now shares his favourite book recommendations via his website, while he has written a book of his own titled ‘The Season of My Life’, in which he chronicles his 2020/21 campaign with Southampton.
Xavi, from his idol to his coach
He coincided with his new coach Xavi Hernández while Pep Guardiola in charge at FC Barcelona, training occasionally with the first team. Years later, in one of the chapters of his book, Romeu remembers how in 2019 he sent a message to Xavi asking him how he could improve aspects of his game, specifically his concentration in matches – something Xavi perfected during his career. Now he’ll have the chance to learn from his idol day in, day out!