Barcelona's next star striker Alejandro Marques closing in on his big break

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He was the star of Barcelona's youth team side that conquered Europe last season with victory in the UEFA Youth League. Now Alejandro Marques wants even more as he continues on the long road to success at Camp Nou. 

Marques, 18, introduced himself to the Catalan faithful in spectacular fashion in 2017-18 with two goals to deliver a title that the club, famed for its youth system, had never previously lifted. 

He is La Masia's second Venezuelan prodigy after Jeffren Suarez and is currently active in Barcelona's B team, where he has featured both in the middle of attack and in a wider offensive position. 

Few, though, have worked as hard and suffered as much as he has to date in order to see the dream of first-team football at the Blaugrana come true. 

Born in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Marques began playing football at the tender age of five in the Brasil Soccer School. He went onto impress for several Caracas boys' clubs before, still just nine, travelling to Spain. 

Playing a youth tournament in Girona, the youngster scored a hat-trick in the final against Barcelona, ensuring that those in charge at La Masia would not forget his name.

Three years later, and with the political and economic situation in Venezuela deteriorating, Marques' parents made the decision to abandon their homeland for the Catalan city, where Alejandro initially played in the Espanyol youth system. 

Marques' stay was brief, though, and after just one year he left the club for the famed Jabac de Terrassa, the team which nurtured the likes of Sergio Busquets and Riqui Puig in their formative years.

The gamble paid off. Before too long Barca had come back around, and in 2017 he had been recruited for the Juvenil A division, where he would soon make history. 

Alejandro Marques Barcelona

Only time will tell whether the Venezuelan has what it takes to make it at the top level.

As Barca coach Ernesto Valverde rightly points out, it is always difficult to draw conclusions from youth football: "Success there is not about winning games but in the formation of talent.

"I take [Barcelona's Youth League] victory as one more step... the players should do so too."

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Marques needs no reminding of that fact, having had to fight every step of the way to show his talents.

Along with Abel Ruiz, he is one of the top teenage talents in Barca's ranks and the pair are battling for further playing time at 'B' level under coach Francesc Garcia Pimiento, who has shown no qualms in picking them for certain games despite their young age. 

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Back in Venezuela too, people are paying attention. 

Marques is considered one of the best prospects available to La Vinotinto, despite never playing a game at any level for the country and rejecting overtures to represent them at youth level.

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His family is reluctant to allow him to travel to Venezuela due to the political crisis, while coach Rafael Dudamel stated last summer he would only consider the forward "once he has come of age". 

Could Venezuela's loss prove Spain's game? The teenager has already appeared at Under-19 level in his adopted nation, netting twice in four matches and showing that even playing out wide he has a natural eye for goal.

As he closes on his 19th birthday, Marques is now at a crucial moment at his career, with the prospect of making his name at Barca and either Venezuela or La Roja tantalisingly close.