Arsenal look to copy Barcelona ideology

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Football News

During the Pep Guardiola period, no one can deny that Barcelona displayed some of the most fluent and dominant displays ever seen on a football pitch.

This success was masterminded by a man who was more than aware of how to build a successful football team. 

In his short four season spell as Barcelona manager he assembled a small squad using mainly academy graduates with several exceptional players brought in externally.

The likes of Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique were given playing time ahead of Yaya Toure and Dmytro Chygrynskiy. These foreign players were eventually sold so the Spanish players could excel.

To the surprise of many, after riding the side of it's best players - after becoming manager Guardiola quickly sold Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto'o - Barcelona only got better.

In his first season in charge Barcelona won the treble, capping it off with 2-0 victory against Manchester United in the Champions League final.

In the 2011 Champions League final, Barcelona started seven academy graduates and seven Spanish nationals. They played Untied off the pitch for the second time in three years, winning 3-1.

In total, Barcelona won 12 major honours in Guardiola's four year spell before he resigned.

This team building model of championing academy graduates over established foreign stars seems to have now been adopted by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Last season, Wenger made the point of tying his British players down to long-term contracts.

Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Carl Jenkinson, Kieron Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were presented to the media together signing their new deals.

Theo Walcott eventually signed his contract extension a month later.

These six players are now the poster boys of Arsenal Football Club. They appear on the media days and in the club catalogues more than any of their foreign team mates. 

It is clear that Wenger's intent is to have these players in the squad for the long term and is willing to give them time to develop in to quality players.

Some of the players, most notably Jenkinson, show signs that they are not ready to play for team as big as Arsenal. But Wenger is persevering in the hope that extended playing time will bring them up to a Championship winning level.

Wenger has also shown his intention to have a small, close-knitted squad by selling and releasing seven first team players whilst only bringing in four replacements.

That means that Arsenal only submitted 21 players in the 25-man Premier League squad today.

But this is not by accident. According to the Daily Mirror, Wenger is keen to keep his squad as small as possible in order to eliminate potential problems that players bring when they're not involved with the first team.

This is also akin to Barcelona, who have an exceptional small squad, making sure that everyone gets adequate game time. It means that an injury crisis can expose a fragility but for the benefit of a happier squad, it seems worth the risk.

The signing of Mesut Ozil also shows that Wenger is now only willing to buy world-class stars to supplement his team of homegrown talent. As his British players continue to grow together, only the best players will be bought externally to add the edge to an ever-improving side.

Wenger's experiment of bringing in the best young players from around the globe and trying to build a team failed.

They were constantly swayed by the opportunities to play in other leagues and for other clubs. By developing a number of talented British players, they are unlikely to be as eager to move to the continent as their foreign team mates.

Wenger has seen the light and Barcelona are the team that showed him the way.

It's unlikely that Arsenal will come close to matching the success that Barcelona have had over the last five years. However, it is likely we will see the system Guardiola used to build his dominating squad spread throughout football in years to come.

Arsenal are the first Premier League club to implement the strategy and will likely be rewarded with domestic domination in years to come.

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