Blues strengthen bond with Spanish partner club

Blues Under-23s defender Remeao Hutton.

Richard Beale went out to the Catalan side along with Remeao Hutton, Charlie Lakin, Under-16 Connor Stanley and Under-15 Remi Walker.


Players and staff were enthused by Blues four-day visit to UE Cornella.

Richard Beale went out to the Catalan side along with Remeao Hutton, Charlie Lakin, Under-16 Connor Stanley and Under-15 Remi Walker.

Blues Under-23s defender Hutton admitted he would entertain a loan move to Cornella, who play in the third tier of Spanish football, if possible.

That is one avenue Blues are exploring with Cornella, as well as coach education and ideas-sharing, plus potential pre-season and warm weather training camps.

Hutton and Lakin, a Blues Under-23s midfielder, both trained with Cornella’s first team.

“It was a very enjoyable experience,” Hutton, 19, reflected.

“Going into a different country, being by yourself away from family, everything about that - you have to concentrate on the football and it makes you focus.

“Football-wise, I’d say I learned a different style, where it was more one-touch and two-touch.

“Everyone thinks it’s just tiki-taka over there, but it isn’t. They do play long as well. They do mix it.

“The training was a tiny bit harder because of the climate, it was hot, as you’d expect. But it wasn’t that much different to what we do here.

“Maybe it was a little bit more relaxed, the tempo wasn’t as high, but it was fairly similar.

“When you were in the changing room at first no one really acknowledged you. And most of the players didn’t really talk English, either.

“It was a bit different when the drills were happening, we tried to pick up what was going on as quickly as we could. But that’s what you’d expect.

“I trained with the first team twice, and I feel like that’s a good standard for me to go into, if that was to happen.

“I’d like to do that, potentially, if the clubs are looking at loans.

“I’ve been told I don’t need to work on my technical ability and how quickly I do stuff. And that’s really how they play, it’s not so physical over there.”

Cornella, who are based in south west Barcelona, were watched in competitive action by the Blues contingent twice.

Hutton said: “They have quite a few quick players in there. They keep the ball and suddenly go direct and play off the front man. They’ve got a big number nine who knocks the ball down to the centre midfielders and then they spray it. They can be technical but if they needed to go that way (more direct), they would.”

Senior Professional Development Coach Beale gave the partnership his seal of approval, too: “It was a really positive four days.

“The lads trained with Cornella’s first team, the older ones, and the younger ones their Under-17s and Under-19s. All acquitted themselves really well.

“Firstly it was a fantastic cultural experience for them, being in a different environment around Spanish speakers and Catalonians.

“The food, the climate, living in a foreign country. It’s not something you will always get to do.

“They immersed themselves into the football as it was a real full-on trip, there was training twice a day most days.

“It will bring them on as people as well as players and hopefully this strengthens the link and we can get out there more regularly.

“And maybe one or two of our Under-23 players can get the opportunity to play in their first team as it would be a really good vehicle to help bring them to the next level.”

Beale added: “Their team, as individuals, they are quite experienced, tough, strong. They have a lot of men in the team. I’d put them at probably League Two standard.

“It’s the Spanish third division, but they play the equivalent level as Real Madrid’s second team. Villarreal and Valencia B teams are actually in their division.

“You have La Liga, Segunda B and then there’s a third division under that, consisting of four groups, and they are in one of them.

“Their ground, their set-up isn’t amazing. But what they have got, in the younger age groups, are a lot of good players. They have got a really big and really good academy.

“At first team they are competing at a level which, selfishly for Birmingham City, would be an ideal level to move some of our players on and into, as part of the next stage of their development.”