La Masia crumbling
There has been an increased emphasis on the failure of Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy. The Pep Guardiola era saw the likes of Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Busquests and Pedro all feature heavily.
The identity of Barcelona ran through the core building of its passing style from the youth system to the first team. Pep, a huge admirer of Johan Cruyff, took the Barcelona style extremely seriously.
In addition, it did not matter who you were, Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry or Alexis Sanchez. Failure to follow instructions was non-negotiable. If you did, you did not play.
Above all, having an academy which bred Barca blood to a standard which matched the quality of the first team was imperative. Barca’s struggles and reliance of the old guard for success in recent seasons has been a ramification of La Masia’s decline.
The club has spent significant fees on foreign talent. Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann combine a total cost exceeding £300 million. Yet the Blaugrana have begun to slip to their fierce rivals Real Madrid. Looking several paces behind their continental opponents such as Bayern Munich.
Moreover, this has been in part down to the slipping standards and lack of utilisation of the academy. Ansu Fati has been an anomaly of the past half decade. With countless talents leaving the Camp Nou year on year, the thought of Barca losing more seems a continuation of festering problems.
That continuation worryingly seems a reality. The arrival of Ronald Koeman once again brings a former link back to the club. The Dutch coach spent 6 years in Catalonia as a player and returns now to turn things around.
Although, Koeman has reportedly made a big decision regarding one of La Masia’s most hopeful talents. Riqui Puig was seen as a Barcelona product with legitimate potential to break into the first team.
A diminutive and technical midfielder, he has drawn praise from the iconic Xavi Hernandez.
“The truth is that he is a boy who breathes talent. He has self-confidence, personality, does not hide and asks for the ball.”
However, it looks increasingly likely that the 21-year-old could be leaving the Camp Nou.
Ronald Koeman ha comunicado a Riqui Puig que no cuenta con él.
— Gerard Romero (@gerardromero) September 19, 2020
Thinking ahead, with the departure of Arthur to Juventus, Miralem Pjanic arrived from Turin. It appears the Blaugrana wish to favour experience alongside Frenkie de Jong.
To conclude, if Puig is to leave, the long-term future of the institution of Catalan football and the values it once stood for, would be in real danger of fading away.