La Masia — the Academy where youth players are trained to play the Barcelona way, a form that has famously come to be known as tiki-taka. When Johan Cruyff established the foundation of La Masia, he promised that La Masia will supply the players to the first team who will play the Barca way and will carry Barca philosophy. This philosophy and idea were carried and maintained till the tenure of Joan Laporta.
“Johan Cruyff painted the chapel, and Barcelona coaches since merely restore or improve it” – Pep Guardiola.
But it seems that current board has already binned that idea. La Masia graduates are no longer valued and they are starting to believe that, they will be better somewhere else. The recent departure of Garcia and Mboula suggest so. And there is a belief among cules too that La Masia graduates are not good enough for the first team. La Masia always cannot produce Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and Pique but in reality, they can produce, just with different names behind their shirt.They just need a chance to prove their worth. It has been years since a La Masia graduate has featured regularly in the first team. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, La Masia is The academy where the youths are trained to play the Barca way, that is popularly known as Total Football.Pep Guardiola made it famous as Tiki-Taka. Barca was absolutely unstoppable while they were playing this style. Winning Sextuple, winning two Champions League title in over three years and most importantly, winning 14 trophies during four-year managerial spell of Pep Guardiola. Even after that, Late Tito Vilanova managed to win league title with record 100 points with the same idea and system. La Masia graduates were thriving, and the team was getting better day by day. At one point, Barca’s whole playing XI was based on La Masia graduates. It was simple, those kids have been playing the Barca style since they were 8 or 9 years old and it will not take them years to adapt to the first team as they are already used to the system.
Tito Vilanova expired and then came Argentine Tata Martino out of nowhere. He failed to deliver and the replacement was one of ours own. Luis Enrique, also known as Lucho. He brought great changes to the side. Not only motivation factor he also brought Different approcaches into the team. The old system of Juego de Position or what they called Tiki-Taka was abandoned. The idea of controlling the game by keeping possession of the ball by midfielders was dropped and fullbacks started to create our play. Luis Suarez was signed to play along side Messi and Neymar, which was later on termed as the famous MSN trio. Our midfielders were forced to cover the area or space left by our fullbacks. The idea was changed. Barca went from controlling the game with midfielders to passing the ball to MSN as much as they can. Those technical midfielders were changed as workhorses. Their main job was to chase the ball, give it to fullbacks or forwards and then drop down deeper to prevent the possible counter attack. Barca won eight major trophies during the three years tenure of Lucho including a TREBLE and back to back La Liga. But there were more damaged done. Those La Masia kids who have been playing the traditional Barca system simply could not match the demand created by Lucho’s team. They played the Johan Cruyff way their whole life and when suddenly, they are asked to chase the ball and run in the middle of the park like a horse, they couldn’t adapt themselves the new system. As a result, they are abandoned and the players with workhorse quality are signed. Arda Turan, Andre Gomes and Ivan Rakitic are the main examples. The player like Sergi Samper, Adama Traore, Gerard Deulofeu and Alex Grimaldo are easily ignored without giving fair chance. Under Luis Enrique, not a single La Masia player cemented this position as a first team regular. The only reason they couldn’t adapt to the new system of Luis Enrique and it’s not their fault as they were taught another style of football through out their whole life.
Barca got Xavi for free due to La Masia but now they have already spent more than €100 Million to seek his replacement. Abandoning the club’s famed youth system, I don’t think they are going to sign anyone with the same caliber. Barca spent 100 Million in signing Arda and Gomes. Not only they failed to deliver but also it hampered the development of Samper and Deulofeu or even Munir. There are many examples. The decision to keep Mathieu by selling Bartra was strange, fearsome and horrible. It gave the wrong impression to La Masia kids and they started to look somewhere for their future. Another example, Barca sold Alex Grimaldo for mere 2.5 Million and then went of signing Lucas Digne for €25 Million just to be backup for Alba. No doubt that Grimaldo would have played that role better than Digne as he is more used to the system. Grimaldo was always taken as next big thing but was shipped out without giving single minute in the first team. Same case for Samper. He was loaned to Granada to accommodate new signing Gomes who failed to impress. Barca let Sandro join Malaga for free and then signed Paco Alcacer from Valencia for another €35 Million. And the result is with us. Sandro went on scoring more than double goals than Paco has scored for Barca. At Barcelona, Sandro was never given a fair chance to prove his worth as striker. There is a reason or connection behind Barca ignoring the La Masia and flowing of bad results in the club. Lucho idea of direct football failed and we suffered from every top opposition we played last season. Messi was single handily taking care of our season but he couldn’t save us from a humiliating defeat against PSG, Juventus and Manchester City. As a result, Luis Enrique left and now we have Ernesto Valverde as our new manager.
Having already played under Johan Cruyff for two years, Valverde on his first press conference promised that Barca will continue its traditional system of playing football, keeping the possession of the ball by midfielders and also giving a fair chance to its youngsters. But the situation is still same. A month ago Barca was doing everything to sign Theo Hernandez forgetting the fact that Marc Cucurella is emerging from youth ranks. A few weeks ago Barca lost transfer battle to Real Madrid to sign Dani Ceballos totally ignoring that how much this signing will hamper the development of Carlon Aleñá. Barca B just got promoted and it will be now easier for kids to involve more in the first team. But not only first team, La Masia graduates are finding it difficult to feature even in B team due to this board constantly signing outsiders for even Barca B. This is indeed worrying as the bridge between La Masia and the first team is being destroyed by the club itself. When a club signs 24 years old players for even B team, you can’t expect La Masia kids to emerge from out of nowhere situation to the first team. Currently, the players like Aleñá and Samper have impressed in preseason , but you don’t know what future holds them. For now, we can only hope that Valverde will give more fair chance to youngsters to prove their worth. A ten-minute cameo when the score line is already 4-0 is not enough for the development of kids. You need to give them more games, actual games to prove their worth. Remember the fact that Lio, Xavi, Iniesta, Sergio, and Pique didn’t become a superstar in a fortnight period. They emerged through years of hard work and the club showed faith in them over their tough period.