MILAN — There has been too much unfair criticism of Malcom, his teammate Sergio Busquets said after the Brazilian scored his first goal for Barcelona in Tuesday’s draw against Inter.
Malcom, 21, came off the bench to give Barca the lead at the San Siro as they qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League despite Mauro Icardi’s late equaliser.
Barca signed Malcom for €41 million in the summer but he’s had a tough introduction to life at Camp Nou. He was making just his fourth appearance for the club against Inter, and his last outing — against Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey — didn’t draw good reviews.
“It’s not fair that he’s judged on one game in the cup because he had hardly played all season before that,” Busquets told reporters. “It’s impossible to have any sort of rhythm [when you aren’t playing regularly]. There was a lot of unjust [criticism] about the players that played in the cup.”
On top of a lack of action, Malcom has been linked with a move away from the club in January, something which he has strenuously denied via social media.
Those rumours have contributed to a difficult start to life in Spain, which was perhaps behind the tears that followed his goal as he celebrated with his teammates in the corner of the San Siro pitch.
“We’re all happy for Malcom,” Busquets said. “His tears were emotional. He’s not getting the minutes he wants, but in training he’s working really hard. He really wants to turn things around.
“He’s a great kid. He’s done really well and the goal will do him good. He is going to help us a lot.”
Malcom hopes his first competitive goal for the club will provide the springboard for him to go on and achieve big things in a Barca shirt.
“[Playing for] Barcelona was a dream I had as a kid,” he told reporters. “Making my debut in the Champions League and scoring will stay in my memory forever — I will celebrate it with my family tonight.
“My dream with Barca is just starting. My dream is to make history and to do big things. I have to thank my teammates for showing confidence in me.”
Three of Malcom’s four appearances so far have been as a substitute, with his only start coming against Cultural. He’s desperate to take on a bigger role, starting with the home game against Real Betis in La Liga on Sunday.
“I want to play more,” he said. “Every day I train to show the quality I can add to the team. Nothing in my life has been easy.”