Maximiliano Brian Rolón (Rosario – January 19th 1995) has, for one so young, already had to endure a substantial amount of media coverage. On the one hand, being a young native of Rosario who was recruited to the Barcelona ranks at a tender age has unsurprisingly lead to comparisons between Maxi and his more illustrious Barcelona idol Lionel Andres Messi.
On the other hand, and in the wake of FIFA’s recent ruling and subsequent transfer embargo of the Catalan giants, Rolón has hit the headlines for the wrong reason, allegedly being one of the 10 under-aged players responsible for FIFA’s decision to prevent the Catalan club from making any transfers in the next two windows.
Maxi Rolón’s story, however, commences back in his (and Messi’s) native Rosario. As a talented young boy, he and twin brother Leonardo would be part of a select group of pioneers to join a joint venture between FC Barcelona and domestic Argentine giants Club Atletico Boca Juniors. These two powerhouses paired up to share the formation and player rights of a select few youth sites across Argentina.
This marriage of resources was to be born under the name of FC Barcelona Juniors Luján. And Maxi and twin Leo would join up, and begin to stand out at the club from an early age.
In fact, it was after a series of trials and practice matches between the Luján based Barcelona team, and their “big brothers” back at the Catalunya base of “La Masia”(*), that led to his parent club to take Maxi over his twin Leo (now at Argentine club Velez Sarsfield – Barcelona still retaining a percentage of the players ownership rights) and incorporate him into their “Cadete”(*1) ranks and therefore directly into the Spanish setup.
In some ways it was an easier transition for Rolón than it would have been for many of the youngsters arriving to the club’s academy from abroad, the Argentine teen having already become accustomed to the disciplines of Barcelona’s academy from his development back in Argentina.
This and a serendipitous encounter with his compatriot and native Rosarino supertsar Lionel Messi, whilst waiting for the youth team bus one day, no doubt helped Maxi’s adaptation process to no end.
In fact, the story goes, that when the young Maxi Rolón was rushed to the hospital with appendicitis, he would awake from his operation to find a signed top from not only Barca’s number 10, but also the current first team manager (and native Rosarino (*2) too!) Gerrardo “El Tata” Martino at his bedside, no doubt a proud moment for the boy hoping to one day follow in their footsteps.
But pretty soon, there were signs of the complications that would arise in regards to Rolón’s (and other such youngsters) time at the club.
Having arrived at the club under the age of 18, Maxi was prohibited in playing in his, and the higher corresponding age groups due to his non-EU status. This allied to the fact that he had not had 5 years continued residence in Spain left Rolón on the verge of a return to his homeland.
It took a loan to the FC Cornelia of the Juvenil C division, where such restrictions in the competition did not apply, to keep the young Maxi in Barcelona, thus counting down to his 18th birthday with a form of regular competitive football. But unbeknown to him or his club, also counting down was a hefty FIFA fine, sanction, and unwanted place in the negative media spotlight.
Conversely, of late things had seemed to be picking up for the Argentine teenager. Rolón had become regular in Barcelona’s UEFA Youth League teams, acquitting himself with some distinction with 3 goals in barely 8 appearances. This year had even seen Maxi make his debut for Barcelona’s B team (currently playing in the Spanish second tier) in a summer friendly, enjoying frequent training sessions with the next generation of Barcelona’s superstars, but then the scandal was to hit.
Rolón The Player:
Whilst Maxi Rolón shares some coincidental similarities with his illustrious compatriot, he is not the same profile of footballer as Messi.
Rolón is a naturally right-sided right-winger, but with a more stocky, physical presence than the man nicknamed “La Pulga” (“The Flea” in English), he also shows a more natural ability to beat his man by going down the line than his compatriot and idol, therefore leading to the comparison with a more a recent “La Masia” graduate, current Everton FC loanee Gerard Delofeu.
Having hit the headlines for the wrong reason, I have no doubt that Rolón will be capable of hitting them for the right ones, but not at the top-level in the near future. The next step for the teen will be to break into Barca’s B squad on a regular basis, this no mean feat in itself considering the level talent currently on show there.
And in fact as promising as the boy may be, he may never go on to reach the top-level at the Catalan giants, but in my opinion should find himself capable enough of at least being a successful export, much like current Internazionale forward Mauro Icardi.
Nonetheless Maxi Rolón is a name that will be hitting the headlines for a while yet, and one you would do well to take down for the future, as no doubt there will be a few more chapters to this young Rosarino’s already enthralling story.
* = “La Masia” – The name of the famed Barcelona youth academy.
*1 = “Cadete” – The name given to the second highest youth age group (the highest being Juvenil) to teams in Spanish football.
*2 = Rosarino – The name given to those born in the Argentine city of Rosario