The striker has been on fire for club and country since leaving Camp Nou and could come back to bite his former team as they meet in the Champions League
In two years at Barcelona, Paco Alcacer scored 15 goals.
“I have the best striker in the world ahead of me, to the right the best soccer professional in the world and on the left the best in the near future,” he said, referring to a front three of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Neymar, for whom he was the back-up.
But when the striker finally grew tired of waiting for his chance at Camp Nou and moved to Borussia Dortmund on loan last year, it took him just seven months and 26 games to hit 15 goals – and he wasn’t even a regular.
From those 26 matches, Alcacer made only 12 starts – initially developing a reputation as a super-sub.
Moments such as a hat-trick in just 30 minutes against Augsburg helped the 26-year-old produce a record-breaking number of goals from the bench as he ended the 2018-19 season with 19 strikes to his name, from 15 starts.
It was no surprise when Dortmund made his deal permanent in February, and he has repaid their faith by starting this season with a hot-streak too.
Alcacer has scored in every game he has played for club and country – having earned a national team recall after producing what ex-Spain boss Luis Enrique described as “miraculous” form in Germany. He goes into Dortmund’s Champions League opener with 10 goals from just eight games.
“Since joining BVB, I’m finally feeling important again,” he said in January.
“I’ve played very little in Barcelona for the past two years. That’s why I understand that I haven’t always played from the start so far.
“Every footballer wants to play. I’m not happy when I’m sitting on the bench. But if we’re having so much success as a team, it’s okay. Because getting a title has been always great.
“I only have one thing in my head: I want to score goals and help the team. This has worked perfectly in the past few months.”
For Barcelona, Alcacer has been the one that got away. What he has done at Dortmund has been exactly what they wanted him to do for them, in producing the goods when called upon.
When they visit Germany on Tuesday, their bench will not carry such a proven game-changer, with 16-year-old Ansu Fati an exciting option who already has his first senior goals, but he will be making his Champions League debut if he has been needed.
On the other hand, with the likes of Messi, Suarez and Neymar just a handful of the superstars that cast a shadow over the 26-year-old Alcacer, he can be forgiven for perhaps not feeling ‘important’ during his two-year stint.
“I do not like to sit on the bench because I’m a very ambitious person,” he explained.
“I’m a happy, funny person, but when I’m sitting on the bench, I do not like anything anymore, then I’m a complicated guy, which I do not like.”
Alcacer certainly comes across as happy in his performances in the famous black and yellow.
He posted a 61.9 per cent big chance conversion rate in the Bundesliga last season, and a shot conversion rate of 43.9% from 41 shots.
For comparison, the league’s top-scorer, Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, converted just 37.25% of big chances and 20.2% of his 109 shots.
The Spaniard’s clinical touch was the perfect indicator of his high confidence, which was taken away from him in an underwhelming Barcelona spell.
Alcacer has been not bitter over how his spell at Barcelona transpired, although he added after scoring in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen that some people in Catalonia didn’t treat him well.
“I don’t think I’ve lost two years,” he said of his time at the club.
“In terms of the number of minutes I had it’s clear that I’d have liked to play more, but I have improved a lot as a footballer and as a person.”
But he added on Saturday: “I have respect for many people there. Many people behaved very well with me but many people behaved very badly. My team-mates and the fans treated me well.
“As in any job, if people trust you, you give your best, and if they don’t trust you, you don’t give it. It’s very important for me to see those signs of trust and in the end many people did not show it.”
Barcelona’s defence this season has been exposed by some ordinary attacks already, failing to keep a clean sheet so far.
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Newly-promoted Osasuna held them to a 2-2 draw, while they also lost to Athletic Club on the opening weekend. Even in their two wins over Real Betis and Valencia, they conceded four goals in total.
Speaking after the group stage draw, Marco Reus admitted: “A few of us from the team were stood together at breakfast this morning and we all agreed that we’d love to draw Barcelona. Buzzing that it’s actually happened!”
It’s no surprise either.
With Barcelona’s defence in tatters, Reus and Alcacer – well-supported by the likes of Jadon Sancho and Thorgan Hazard – will be itching to have a go at them.