LA MASIA? NO SIR

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The business of transfers is one world that fans have not fully understood.

More often than not, footballers are signed because they are to fill the needs of different football clubs in different positions. That is the simplest explanation we can get, and it is quite acceptable.

Sometimes, it could be for purely political reasons but let us not get into that today.

Top teams sign the best players (regardless of the price these days), also, the top players always want to play for the top teams; the lower teams sign top players (if they are lucky enough and have good scouting networks) but eventually still end up selling to top teams because of a number of reasons: lure of players to the global brand of playing in a top team, money, etcetera etcetera.

Some clubs have some philosophies when recruiting players. For example, Ajax Football Club relies a lot on her Football Academy and constantly produces quality players year in year out. Eventually, the top tier teams swoop for their players. Other renowned Football Academies are Southampton, Manchester United and Barcelona.

Yes, Barcelona.

The Football Club that produced the golden (diamond) generation of Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Pedro Rodriguez and who can forget Lionel Messi?

Within that period, there have also been players that were not entirely successful, see the Dos Santos brothers, Giovani and Jonathan; Bojan Krkic, Gerard Deulofeu, and so on.

More recently, Cristian Tello, Rafinha, Sergei Samper, Sandro Ramirez, Munir El Haddadi, Martin Montoya, Alen Halilovic, the list goes  on.

Since the beginning of the 2013/2014 season, only Sergi Roberto has achieved relative success in Barcelona as an academy graduate promoted to the senior team. He actually made his first team debut in 2010 and has played 125 times after that. Even at that, he does not have a fixed position in the team and recently, Barcelona has signed players in all the positions that he has played in recent seasons. The last notable successful Barcelona Academy graduate is Sergio Busquets who was promoted in the 2008/2009 season.

So what has been happening in La Masia since then? We obviously can only provide our insight into what is already known because we are not privy to all the goings-on in the Nou Camp.

It would have been easy to attribute it to numerous changes to those at the helm of affairs but there has been a relative stability in that regard. Joan Laporta was President between 2003 and 2010, Sandro Rosell between 2010 and 2014, and Josep Maria Bartomeu from 2014 till date.

Also in the Coaching Department, Frank Riijkard was in charge from 2003 to 2008, Pep Guardiola from 2008 to 2012, Tito Vilanova from 2012 to 2013 (resigned due to a relapse of his cancer issues, died in 2014), Gerardo Martino from 2013 to 2014, Luis Enrique from 2014 to 2017 and Ernesto Valverde from 2017 till date.

In the last year, Barcelona has spent almost £420m on players.

You do not need a rocket scientist to tell you that this indicates that faith in the La Masia Academy is waning or the talent pool available at this point is not sufficient enough to compete on the grandest of stages.

Either way, we always love to see Academy graduates come up and fulfil their potential in La Masia and in academies all over the world.

 

By Motunrayo Abiodun