FC Barcelona was once the ideal club, successful both on the pitch and off it. In many ways, it wasn’t just a mere club, but more than that. Yet after years of mismanagement, the ostensibly epicurean squandering of money, and the allowance of the famed La Masia academy to fall into dilapidation, the mighty FC Barcelona has lost its way.
Mes Que Un Club
The glory days of the 2000s and early 2010s are long gone. In those times, Barça had established itself as the dominant powerhouse of European football. The club motto of “més que un club” (more than a club) rang true more than ever.
The Blaugrana were an essential part of the community and a resonant voice in the fight for Catalan independence.
The Barça brand grew to such enormous proportions that it was the most significant footballing institution on the planet, despite what Manchester United and Real Madrid fans will tell you.
Especially during the Pep Guardiola years, when he had his team playing an attractive and authoritative style of play, the allure of Barça was irresistible.
The Fall Of La Masia
FC Barcelona’s connection to its Catalan roots was nowhere more apparent than through its work with La Masia, Barcelona’s youth system. Cruyffian ideals molded local talent, and the youngsters were given a direct pathway to the first team.
Throughout Guardiola’s time in charge, the core of his legendary team was made up of Barcelona youth academy graduates, and even after he left, that trend persisted, at least for a while. In 2012, Barça, with Tito Vilanova now at the helm, fielded a Barcelona first team of eleven La Masia players in a convincing win over Levante.
But as the years went on and president Josep Maria Bartomeu took charge, FC Barcelona developed an affinity for splashing the cash on foreign superstars, obscuring the route to the first team for its youngsters.
Unfortunately, that shift in philosophy also entailed a reluctance to properly remunerate local talent, leading to an exodus of La Masia players. As a result, the conveyor belt has virtually ceased production at this point.
Despite the apparent problems plaguing the club, players still managed to produce on the soccer field. It helps when you have 8-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi on your side, of course—but in the 2020/21 season, everything has come crashing down.
The Blaugrana were seven points adrift from Atletico Madrid, who won the La Liga and plummeted out of the Champions League unimaginably in the round of 16 to Paris Saint-Germain. As a result, Lionel Messi has decided to leave the club for Paris.
Supporters are fed up and have started protesting against Bartomeu. A complete squad overhaul seems to be in the cards. The mighty FC Barcelona is a club in crisis, a hollow shell of what was once football royalty.
Barça could be an unrecognizable team in the coming years, a team in transition, desperately searching for a new identity.
What Does La Masia Mean?
Formerly located near Camp Nou, it was one of the most prestigious youth academies in the world. In Catalan, “La Masia” refers to “the farmhouse“. The training facilities are no longer located in the city since the club relocated them to accommodate the large number of young players who lived there.
Why Is La Masia Special?
The philosophy at the youth academy is simple and clear from the lowest-aged team up to the first team. It is the combination of Johan Cruyff Total Football framework and one-touch play known as Tiki-Taka that has led the academy graduates to such great success.
La Masia Interesting Facts
- First youth academy to train all three Ballon d’Or finalists in the same year: Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, and club legend Xavi.
- More than 300 young boys and girls are part of the academy and play in the youth teams.
- During the 1979-1980 season, La Masia became a dormitory for young players from outside Barcelona.
- The center for players’ residences was closed in 2011, and the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper assumed its function.
- The 2010 FIFA World Cup was won by Spain with seven Barcelona academy graduates players in the World Cup final.
- In 2021, nine Barça youth women soccer players entered upper secondary education and start boarding in Barcelona’s La Masia.
- In Arizona, La Masia has launched a Residence Academy that uses the same methods as La Masia in Spain. Every year, top players from AZ’s academy visit La Masia in Spain.
- 21 world class players have played more than 100 league games with the first team, won La Liga league titles, won Copa del Rey trophies, and won Champions League / European Cup/UEFA finals.
Here is the list of players:
|Name||FC Barcelona Career||Appearances||La Liga Titles||Copa Del Rey Trophies||UEFA Trophies|
|Sergio Busquets||2008– current||391||8||7||9
|Gerard Piqué||2008– current||391||8||7||9|
|Sergi Roberto||2010 - current||208||6||6||4|
|Jordi Alba||2012 - current||289||5||5||2|
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!