Former Ireland underage international makes Barcelona first-team debut

A former Ireland underage international has made his debut for Barcelona's first team, writes Stephen Barry.

Marcus McGuane is the first English footballer to play for the storied Catalan club since Gary Lineker.

McGuane had played three games for the Republic of Ireland U17s at the 2015 European Championships, having qualified through his maternal grandparents who were from Cork and Portlaoise. He also has family living in Limerick.

The London-born midfielder opted to switch to England after his final game - incidentally, a 1-0 loss to England.

Having made two late Europa League appearances for Arsenal in 2017, he moved to Barcelona B in the January transfer window, with his buyout clause now set at €25million.

And now, just a month after turning 19, McGuane has already impressed enough to make his first-team debut for Barca.

He came on as a 76th-minute substitute for Aleix Vidal in the Supercopa de Catalunya (Catalan Super Cup) final - onto team without the likes of Messi and Suarez but still featuring new signings Ousmane Dembélé and Yerry Mina.

“It was a massive experience, a massive achievement for me and my family. Words can't really describe how it felt walking out there. But it felt really good,” said McGuane.

“When the coach told me I'm coming on I thought just be calm and play my game and show what I can do.

“A lot of people told me when I signed that Gary Lineker was the last English person to play for FC Barcelona. So to know that I'm next, that's some achievement.

“I need to carry on pushing on with the B team and get as many games as possible. If I get any opportunities to go over to the first team, I've just got to show the boss what I can do.”

Manager Ernesto Valverde said: “What we most wanted was for the players to get minutes and to see some of the Barca B lads in a match situation.

“We started well but there were times when our game fell off a little. But we ended with almost only B team players on the pitch and it was a good chance to see them in action.”

For the record, the blaugrana defeated their city rivals Espanyol 4-2 on penalties after a scoreless draw.

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