Josue Currais Prieto (or simply “Josu”) is only 22 years old but the diminutive Spanish midfielder from the famed “La Masia” of Barcelona is no stranger to foreign leagues having plied his trade in several countries prior to joining Kerala Blasters for the ongoing edition of the Indian Super League (ISL)
As is the case with most midfielders from that part of the world, Josu is already creating ripples in the ISL with his technique and playmaking abilities. There was a palpable sense of excitement among the Blasters’ fan base when it came to light that the Sachin Tendulkar co-owned franchisee had signed a former Barcelona youth product for this season.
Josu, promptly set about justifying all that hype by scoring a sumptuous volley in the opening game against NorthEast United capping a creative performance from the midfield, endearing himself greatly to the fans. He had this to say about that volley and the fans in an exclusive chat with Goal.
“I can’t explain that feeling. It was amazing. I was in my mood when I hit that ball. I didn’t hear anything. I was really happy. I have to thank my family, girlfriend, friends, and my brother. I can feel the love from the fans. They ask me for pictures, signatures etc. I really love it."
Josu played alongside Gerard Deulofeu (La Masia graduate who now plays for Everton) in the Barcelona youth teams and still remains good friends with him. While Deulofeu went on to play for the Blaugrana first team, Sevilla and now Everton, Josu’s career took a different route as he started his professional career at Spanish club Olot, then went to Finland, Italy and Poland before taking up the ISL challenge.
He feels things didn’t work out for him as planned because of the pressure of being termed a “La Masia” product.
“The first year in La Masia was a difficult year for me. There was a lot of press coverage and huge competition. I left home and started living alone at 16. I found it hard to adjust. But I had a very good year in the second season. I even did pre-season with first team. But it didn’t work out.”
Josu is still very young and developing and he remains coy over his future while admitting though he would like to play for bigger clubs in Spain, he has been bitten by the ISL bug.
“I want to play for a bigger club in Europe but I don’t know what my future holds. It might be in Europe, Asia or South America. Of course I might come back to ISL. I love it so far. Maybe I will prefer to come back to ISL than play in Europe, you never know. The stadiums are nice. People support you very much. I can play here for many years.”
Josu played for most of his youth career as a defender and says his coach in Finland asked him to play as a creative midfielder and that move has paid off.
“My coach in Finland (SJK club – Seinajoen Jalkapallokerho) Mr. Simo Valakari was the reason. He asked me to play higher up the pitch. I said yes, because as a youngster I have played in all positions. For Barcelona and Espanyol, I was a left-back. He (Valakari) put me in No.10 position and I did well there.”
The Langreo-born Josu also believes the physical nature of Segunda league in Spain is the reason Barcelona’s youth team is in decline. He reiterates though that Barcelona have the ideal set up to overcome the current decline of the Barcelona B team which is a supplier of La Masia honed talents to the senior team.
"The club has good set up to overcome such things and continue producing good players. The second division is not an easy league to play in. It is more physical. So young players suffer more."
The young Spaniard has a long way to go yet in his footballing journey and this experience should hold him in good stead because of the quality and experience of players he shares the dressing room with. He feels he is learning a lot from the senior players.
“It has been a positive experience. I have been learning a lot from my team mates. There are some extremely good players - Carlos Marchena, Peter Ramage and others.
He also feels that the ISL is on par with the first division league in Finland though he feels the Polish league is on a higher level. “Here there are many foreign players - Europeans and Brazilians. So the football is similar. Maybe Poland is at a higher level. It has higher tempo. But I can compare it with the league in Finland."
Though he was born in Langreo, he moved to Figueres in Catalunya at an early age and is unsurprisingly a huge Barcelona fan. He thinks Messi is the best player in the world but admires Cristiano Ronaldo, Eden Hazard, David Silva and Mesut Ozil.
When asked what he liked the most about India, the youngster sheepishly admits he hasn’t been sightseeing a lot. “Weather is hot. I’m very choosy when it comes to food. So haven’t tried much of the local cuisine. Fans are the best thing here. They are like our 12th man."
Judging by what we have seen from Josu so far, this youngster has the potential to take the league by storm and he certainly has the pedigree.