Football

Barcelona have let La Masia slip into terminal decline

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The Daily Mail report that Barcelona youth prospect Sergi Samper is said to be keen on a move to Arsenal because he feels his chances at Barcelona will be limited.

Is this further evidence that the famous Barcelona academy, La Masia, which has produced some of the finest footballing technicians we have ever seen, in decline?

The prized youth system in place at Barcelona was created from the philosophical footballing brain of the legendary Johan Cruyff, a system which has become synonymous with all the players to have represented Barcelona.

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The system seems so easy on paper, keep possession, press the opposing team all across the pitch and place huge emphasis on attack.

Of course the system is far more complex and was to a degree a revolutionary way of playing the game enabling Barcelona to achieve enormous amounts of both domestic and European success.

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However, it appears the trend of La Masia graduates making a huge impact on the Barca side is starting to slowly decline with a number of superstar signings arriving at the club over recent seasons.

Experience over youth

Neymar, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Arda Turan have all arrived at the club making it difficult for the youth prospects to break into the first team or even break into the squad. In 2012 against Levante Barcelona fielded a side which contained 11 La Masia graduates - a phenomenal achievement for a club of their stature - but it seems times have changed since.

Last season only Munir, Rafinha and Sergi Roberto made any sort of impact from La Masia and to be honest no significant impact was made by any of them.

Other graduates such as Gerard Deulofeu and Thiago Alcantara have forced moves away from Barcelona to help build their careers as they feel chances at Barca could be significantly limited, especially with the current crop of players.

The consensus surrounding the club seems to have changed, Guardiola seemed to place far more emphasis on nurturing the young talent at the club while the current side seem far more geared to signing the best players in the world - a similar tactic to that of Real Madrid.

Could the current crop just simply be below standard?

This shift in philosophy of the club may, however, simply have coincided with the fact that perhaps the current crop of players within the academy have simply not met the high standards which were set by the 'golden generation'.

The success and accolades which the golden generation amounted made them one of the most idolised groups of players in the modern game. Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Leo Messi and many more elevated Barcelona to the levels which we see today, the greatest club side on earth.

My thinking is that perhaps the players currently within La Masia are not able to match these ridiculous standards and therefore the club have had to recruit from around Europe to maintain the era of success at the club.

Manchester United experienced the same with the 'Class of '92' and since then the academy has struggled to produce an input which was as talented, subsequently United now often recruit from other Premier League clubs or abroad.

Terminal decline

The clear evidence is that there has been a severe decline in the quality of player which has been produced at La Masia in recent years; let's not forget that in 2010 the three finalists in the Ballon d'Or comprised of three La Masia graduates, Messi, Xavi and Iniesta.

The club's B team also suffered relegation last season to the third tier of Spanish football, providing yet further evidence that La Masia is not at the peak of its powers at present.

However, the training methods and financial investment in La Masia will not alter, the club will still place a lot of importance on its famed academy because simply it is a legendary trademark of Barcelona.

For the moment though the club have simply had to slightly neglect La Masia in order to maintain the winning image of Barcelona - after all football is about winning at the end of the day.

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Topics:
La Liga
Barcelona
Football

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