Before the inception of Messi, a young Nigerian was considered the best player of La masia.
Mikel arteta in march 2020 :
“In our dorms at Barcelona, there was this guy called haruna babangida. At 15 he was the best player in the world.”
In 1997, babangida rejected Ajax and joined the historic La masia babangida was a creative midfielder with sublime passing. He was even faster than blaze, his talents were impressive that he had some major fans.
“I cannot put into words how talented he was. He should have been a star.
Rivaldo was also a huge fan of babangida but the player who had more hype than Messi was the victim of racism.
“It was difficult for every African boy to live in Europe during that time. I arrived at Barcelona and I was the only black guy in the whole academy.”
Babangida had to learn Spanish but that wasn’t the only issue.
“Even for some players from spain it was difficult. Andres iniesta found it more difficult than me. His family drive to Barcelona from alabacete and when they left, he was crying.
In spite of all these difficulties babangida shone at La masia he scored 42 goals in 110 games for Barca B.
But Barca’s head coach van gaal never gave him his chance.
Babangida didn’t thrive under Van Gaal’s strict approach.
“I remember when I was training with the first team , Van Gaal had already learned the ringtone from my phone and for all the players phones so if mine went off, he was going crazy ,crazy , crazy.
Van Gaal didn’t like babangida playing style.
The Nigerian left Barca for Ukraine and then Greece , then Cyprus, Russia , Germany , Austria , the Netherlands and Malta.
He never reached the level anyone thought he would. Babangida believes things would have been different if Guardiola or Enique were his coach.
They believe so much in talent and young players.
Babangida was the hottest prospects in La masia for a while but his career never took off at Barcelona and that’s his biggest regret