Argentina coach Gerardo Martino believes that Barcelona’s future success depends on whether they can replace Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta.
The midfield trio all graduated from the club’s famous La Masia academy and they have played a key role in Barcelona’s decade of dominance.
However, former Barcelona manager Martino doesn't believe the club can expect three equally talented midfielders to progress through the famous academy and that they may need to look elsewhere for the ideal replacements.
"When you talk about La Masia, do you mean La Masia or Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets?" he asked when questioned by Goal about Barcelona’s academy.
"Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta are just a part of La Masia. The question is, what will happen when they are no longer [Lionel] Messi's team-mates?
"We are not talking about winning games or not, because Barcelona won everything last year playing in a completely different way.”
Xavi left the Nou Camp at the end of the last season after the club had won La Liga, the Champions League and Copa del Rey, and is now plying his trade in Qatar.
The performances of Iniesta and Busquets have meant that Barcelona haven’t missed their former captain but the pair's long-term future at the Catalan club is also in doubt.
Iniesta is now 31, while Busquets has been linked with a move away, most notably with a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City next season.
Martino managed Barca for the 2013/14 season where he finished second, behind Atletico Madrid. His side only needed to beat the eventual champions on the final day of the season at the Nou Camp but could only manage a 1-1 draw.
And he insists that Luis Enrique faces an extremely tough job of replacing the two players that have been so instrumental to the club’s success in recent years.
"The big issue is whether Barcelona will be the same when they are not in the team and if the players who replace them come from La Masia and if they will be the right players to play alongside Messi," he said.
"There is a way of playing [in La Masia] but there are also different ability levels. They have better and worse players, and when we talk about Iniesta and Busquets we are talking about the best attacking and defensive midfielders in the world. Replacing them is very difficult.”
Hoping to be the next academy products to replace the golden generation are Sergi Roberto and Sergi Samper but it remains to be seen whether they can reach the incredible heights of Iniesta, Xavi and Busquets.
Barcelona fans: Who do you see as ideal replacements for Xavi, Iniesta and Busquests? Let us know in the comments box below!
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