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La Masia: A Hollow Shell Of A Formerly Great Institution

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.

training pitches at fc barcelona la masia

Las Ramblas, Barcelona!
Las Ramblas, Barcelona!

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.

1987 barcelona academy team

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.

As a result, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba, and even a young Argentine teenager named Leo Messi came through La Masia academy and slotted straight into the FC Barcelona senior side.

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.

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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.

young kids coming through the fc barcelona academy

Implosion

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.

Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper

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-Women

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.

famous players to come through the barcelona academy

Here is the list of players:

NameFC Barcelona CareerAppearancesLa Liga TitlesCopa Del Rey TrophiesUEFA Trophies
Antonio Olmo1976–1984188032
Tente Sánchez1976–1986236
132
Francisco Carrasco1978–1989262
133
Ramón Calderé1984–1988110
110
Guillermo Amor1988–1998311
535
Albert Ferrer1990–1998204514
Pep Guardiola1990–2001263
614
Sergi Barjuán1993–2002267
312
Xavi1998–2015505
838
Gabri García1999–2006129
111
Carles Puyol1999–2014392
616
Oleguer Presas2001–2008127201
Víctor Valdés2002–2014387627
Andrés Iniesta2002–2018442
969
Lionel Messi2004–2021520
10710
Bojan2007–2011104
314
Pedro2007–2015204538
Sergio Busquets2008– current391
879
Gerard Piqué2008– current391879
Sergi Roberto2010 - current208
664
Jordi Alba2012 - current289552

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