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Ilie Sánchez and Cristian Lobato - The Kansas Contingent from Barcelona (18th November, 2017)

What is it about Spaniards plying their trade abroad that excites me?

Is it the sense of adventure? Is it the story of a risk taken? Or is it that, on players who venture outside Spain, there is simply more material available to write about?

Whatever it is, one thing is clear - Barcelona have way too much talent. And most of it ends up on the sidelines...

Ilie Sánchez

He played for Martinenc FC between 1996-98, for Barcelona between 1998-00, C.E. APA Poble Sec between 2000-01, UB Catalónia between 2001-03, Collblanc between 2003-05 (the last three clubs being part of the Agrupació de Penyas del Barça), Cornellà between 2005-07 and Barcelona again between 2007-09 - and that's just his youth career!

Ilie Sánchez was born in Barcelona, and represented several Catalan clubs as a youth, including FC Barcelona from ages 7-9. He would return to La Masia in 2007, and make his Barcelona B debut with in the 2009-10 season in the Segunda B. He played 22 times that season, scoring once and helping his team return to the Segunda after 11 years.

Mainly a defensive midfielder, Ilie was reconverted by manager Luis Enrique, a former Barcelona player, into right back. He was also called by Pep Guardiola for the first team's pre-season in 2010. In the 2012-13 season he even wore the captain's armband, and at the end of the season he signed an extension till 2015, with a 15 million euro release clause.

Everyone thought that at some point, he would "make it".

However, on 11 June 2014, both Ilie and teammate Edu Bedia signed for TSV 1860 Munich in the 2. Bundesliga. And then at the start of the 2015-16 campaign, Sánchez was deemed surplus to requirements by manager Torsten Fröhling, and was loaned to Elche in the Segunda.

Ilie Sánchez, at TSV 1860 Munich


After his contract was annulled at the end of the campaign, he remained without a club for a couple of month. Finally, in January 2017 he signed for Sporting Kansas City in the MLS on a two-year deal, where he is an undisputed starter.

Cristian Lobato

Born in Barcelona too, Lobato started playing football years in La Masia (1995-99), but he was released by the club still in his early teens, joining neighbors CE L'Hospitalet. He made his senior debuts during the 2007-08 season in the third division, appearing in two games and suffering relegation.

In the 2009-10 campaign, Lobato was a very important first-team unit as Hospitalet returned to the third level. He then proceeded to play 33 league matches as the team retained their league status, already reconverted from left winger to left back. In late June 2011, Lobato returned to his first club Barcelona, signing a two-year contract and being assigned to the B-side.

Cristian Lobato, at Barcelona B

Despite a 2012-13 campaign where he scored seven goals, his contract was allowed to expire, and he signed a five-year deal with Real Zaragoza in January 2013. However, he failed to pass his medicals in August, and his contract was voided.

Despite not even getting a look-in with a Segunda team, in January 2014, after spending the first part of the campaign nursing a knee injury, Lobato joined La Liga side Osasuna for six months. He made 12 appearances but could not save the team from relegation, and subsequently spent seven months without a club.

His career since then has been that of a journeyman - in February 2015, Lobato signed a short-term deal with Superleague Greece side Asteras Tripoli. In November, he agreed to a one-year contract with Gimnàstic de Tarragona after training with the team for nearly two months. And finally, in June 2017, Lobato joined Sporting Kansas City until the end of the 2018 season.

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