Why Colombia’s World Cup hero Yerry Mina has been a flop at Barcelona

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The 23-year-old has made very little impact since signing for the Spanish double winners but he has made headlines for the right reasons in Russia

Barcelona’s signing of Yerry Mina from Palmeiras in January for €11.8 million has proven to be a disaster so far and it already seems inevitable that he will have to move elsewhere, at least temporarily, in order to reach the levels required at the Catalan giants.

However, the 23-year-old has impressed with Colombia in this World Cup so far, proving pivotal in the 3-0 win over Poland in matchday two.

He provided the breakthrough in the 40th minute of that game after meeting a perfect James Rodriguez cross. Thereafter he ensured that Poland’s Robert Lewandowski barely got a kick in attack.

The pressure was on Colombia in that game after they lost to Japan on matchday one, but the man who was left out for the opener may have now earned a permanent spot in defence ahead of the crucial clash with Senegal on Thursday - a game the South Americans must win to guarantee qualification to the knockouts.

His inclusion in the Colombia squad for the World Cup wasn't a certainty as he only played 377 minutes for Barcelona last season. Manager Ernesto Valverde didn't deem it worth the risk playing him more, with an already impressive defence underpinning the genius of Lionel Messi up front.

Mina’s gigantic size at 6ft 5in means that he isn't the quickest and that leaves him unsuitable to Barcelona's approach, where they play a high defensive line.

It is clear that Valverde still doesn't fancy the young defender and he is now set to move even further down the pecking order as Barca are close to announcing the signing of Sevilla defender Clement Lenglet. Lenglet will join Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen in Valverde's squad.

With the Brazilian Arthur Melo also joining Barcelona, the club need to sell or loan one of their non-EU players as Arthur, Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho would occupy the four empty spots on the quota.

Thus Mina could be sold, at the very least temporarily, despite only arriving six months ago. The player himself is keen to remain in Barcelona colours and he has a deal until 2023, but he is being advised to take a loan move with no chance of playing time at Camp Nou.

This World Cup can become a shop window for Mina, just as it was for his national team-mate James Rodriguez four years ago in Brazil - with his performances earning him a move to Real Madrid.

Mina’s display against Poland will have certainly done him the world of good in this regard. Not only did he get a goal and a clean sheet, but he also won 66.7 per cent of his duels, more than any other player.

The defender also had the joint-most tackles, with three on Sunday, keeping a world class striker in Lewandowski quiet in the process.

Yerry Mina and James Rodridguez. Colombia

Barcelona’s general manager Pep Segura is thought to want to send him out on loan on a two-year deal to a club that will develop Mina. Fenerbahçe are understood to be most keen on signing the centre-back, but Borussia Dortmund are also interested.

Mina may be a 'small' fish in a big pond at Barcelona, but the giant defender is still young at 23 and could one day prove that the flop jibes are premature. His national team coach Jose Pekerman has sympathised with his plight at club level and insists the best is yet to come.

"I have to say he's coming out of a hard season with Barcelona," Pekerman said in Samara Stadium, before referencing the notorious 5-4 defeat to Levante that Mina played in which ended Barca’s chances of going the whole La Liga season unbeaten.

"That game looked easy but it was not because they had already won the Spanish league and there was pressure on them to continue that undefeated streak. He did not play well in that [Levante] match.

"He didn't play at the usual level we have come to expect. I think he was affected by a poor match of the whole team, Barcelona conceded several times against a team that usually doesn't score so often. I'm sure that affected him and on top of that there are always other things on people's minds since he was a key player in Brazil.

"He chose Barcelona thinking the situation would be different. I'm sure it was a hard time for him and that's how he reached us at the World Cup but we never doubted him or his talent. I do think he's going to be one of the greatest central defenders in the world, he has enormous potential.

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"Obviously he needs to feel the support of his club, his team-mates, he needs to adapt to Barcelona in an ongoing context and he'll play at the level he played at with the national team in the last game. I'm completely convinced of this, Yerry will go on to do great things."

Colombia fans will be hoping that Mina continues to do great things at this World Cup and, in the process, perhaps Barcelona will be won over again by the player they had so much faith in just six months ago.

With input from Ignasi Oliva, Goal's Barcelona correspondent.

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