The Top 5 Team Goals From Barca’s Academy Prove La Masia’s Still Got It
Barcelona have slowly begun entering the catch-22 phase initiated by the golden era of Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique. Basically, it goes like this: La Masia will never again produce a group of players like that one. They turned Barcelona into a global sporting institution synonymous with the quality of being elite.
Their period of dominance still fit in perfectly with the club’s identity — the players were graduates of the academy and Barcelona through and through. They represented the supporters while challenging for domestic and continental titles year after year.
With the expectations raised and players within the golden era aging, Barcelona have been forced to look outside of the academy for the proper replacements. There’s no doubt that there's still a lot of quality in their youth academy, it’s just not the kind of quality that’ll win you five Champions League titles in 10 years.
But while spending big on players like Neymar, Luis Suarez and Andre Gomes might keep the machine running, it comes with the price of the club losing its much-heralded identity. The worry is that the club will subsequently lose its philosophy of play and its Catalan national character.
“We’re seeing a lot of kids leaving [La Masia],” says former Barcelona player and current Chelsea forward Pedro. “And, in my opinion, that’s a shame because I think [Barcelona] are losing the philosophy of the academy a little.”
“Of course, they’re still one of the world leaders in producing players, but years ago they were using those players in the first team more regularly. When I was there, we even had a whole side made up of La Masia graduates. It’s difficult to see that happening again today.”
Former youth players Pedro, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara, Cristian Tello and Marc Bartra are all examples of players that’ve left Barcelona in search of minutes elsewhere, and that trend, apart from this summer’s strange reacquisition of Gerard Deulofeu, looks set to continue.