A combination of Messi and Laudrup: Xavi tells the story how “the other Iniesta” was lost at Barcelona

A combination of Messi and Laudrup: Xavi tells the story how “the other Iniesta” was lost at Barcelona

Barcelona legend Xavi has revealed there was another talent at the club, who could have been as good as Michael Laudrup and Lionel Messi.

Midfielder Mario Rosas came through La Masia around the same time as Xavi, who had earmarked the teenager for greatness like fellow Spaniard Andres Iniesta.

But, while Iniesta lived up to his expectations, Rosas’ career dwindled after making just two first-team appearances.

And the loss of ability shocked Xavi, who admitted he and Iniesta were fortunate to have the backing of their families as they tried to make it in football.

“Andrés is a special case,” he told So Foot.

“He has an unusual talent, he could not fail, impossible. There was another Iniesta at Barça. I will always remember his name: Mario Rosas.

“If you saw how he played at 15, 16 or 17, you would say: ‘When this guy makes it to the first team, the Camp Nou will hallucinate.’ He was a mixture of Laudrup and Messi, for real.

“He played with two feet, dribbled, was competitive. He had it all, but he got lost. It shocked me. Maybe he was not professional enough or didn’t have a strong mentality, we will never know.

“Adolescence is a crucial period in life, your personality isn’t yet fully built and it is very easy to make mistakes.

“You are full of doubts: ‘Will I be able to play for Barça?’ ‘Will I have the level for the first division?’ ‘Will I make it to the national team?’ You can fix these issues if you are mentally stable and have a supportive family.

“I’ve had the chance to always be protected by my family. Andrés’ family has also been amazing and taught him a bunch of values.

“But there are players who have chaotic lives, with complicated parents. When you don’t have a support or someone to refer to, it’s hard.”

Mario Rosas – what happened next?

Making his first-team debut on 15 May 1998 in a 4-1 loss to UD Salamanca, as Barcelona had already won the league, Rosas would be released without another league appearance in 2000.

The Spaniard then failed to break into the first team at Deportivo Alaves, being sent out on loan to Salamanca during his two-year spell.

Rosas enjoyed his best time at a club with CD Castellon in the Spanish second division, spending four years there and playing 123 games in all competitions.

Back-to-back relegations with Castellon and Salamanca saw the Spaniard move test his luck abroad in Azerbaijan with FK Khazar before returning to Spain to end his career in 2014.