Looking at La Masia in times of crisis: the raw material of FC Barcelona | Soccer | Sports

The day that Joan Laporta took a photo with the teams that made up Barcelona’s youth football team for the 2021-20022 season, he began to watch a children’s rondo at the direction of the technical secretary, Ramon Planes (2018-2021). “Take a good look at this player,” Planes remembers pointing out to him. “His name is Lamine Yamal and he is going to be a phenomenon. “He has talent, mentality, football intelligence,” he concluded with the complicity of the Barça president.

Yamal arrived at Barça at the age of seven, at 16 he started in Porto and in Granada he became the youngest scorer in the League at the age of 16 years and 87 days. Balde and Gavi, who are 19, joined at eight and 11 respectively while Fermín, who has turned 20, arrived at 13. The four lined up in Do Dragão and Los Cármenes. Sergi Roberto, author of the 2-2 score in Granada, and Oriol Romeu, linked to the Barcelona youth team, and Araujo, who in 2018 joined the reserve team in 2018 after being recruited by Planes, also a supporter of Pedri, also played.

“The Barça club excels in recruiting,” Planes argues. “We are talking about the smallest players and 7-a-side football,” insists the current Betis sports director. “An excellent raw material,” he concludes to the satisfaction of Jordi Roura, who also stopped being responsible for the youth teams at the beginning of Laporta’s second term. “Lamine never ceased to surprise me,” says the latter. “He is not wrong and his appearances are devastating. He is La Masia’s greatest talent.” “I also had no doubts about Fermín’s quality, but there was no way for him to make the growth spurt. Until recently,” adds Roura, equally happy with Gavi and Balde: “I didn’t look at physical appearance to choose a player. I was interested in the technique, the talent and if they had something special.” And he evokes Xavi, Iniesta or Messi. “It would have been bad for us if size had been decisive in the player screenings to move from one category to another,” concludes Roura.

Gavi protests during the match in Granada.
Gavi protests during the match in Granada.JON NAZCA (REUTERS)

“The objective is smart players who relate well with the ball, fast and skilled, different in details such as oriented controls and who dominate the space-time relationship, footballers who fit our style,” they explain at the Oriol Tort Training Center. . The theoretical corpus was collected in the Methodology Area developed by professionals such as Joan Vilà, Paco Seirul·lo and Andoni Zubizarreta. Laporta wants to resume with Deco the thread that he wove with Begiristain. The starting point is unequivocal: Cruyff. “Football is looked at through the eyes of Cruyff,” announced an anti-establishment like Romario.

Cruyff was introduced in 1988 with Milla as a midfielder and was fired in 1996 after lighting up the Quinta de Lo Pelat. El Flaco ordered the different teams to play the same way in a decision that shook La Masia. The unification of criteria was in some way in tune with the professionalization proposal promoted in the seventies by Laureano Ruíz and Michels.

Over time, Ajax became the source of inspiration for the Dream Team and Cruyff later opted for Guardiola. Nor should we forget the passing of Van Gaal. The youth team had its day of glory on November 25, 2015: Tito Vilanova presented a lineup against Levante with 11 Barcelona youth football players.

The 2010 Ballon d’Or

The high point was reached when Messi, Iniesta and Barça formed without any youth players on April 17, 2018 in Vigo and 34 foreign players passed through Barça B from 2015 to 2018.

”What should be the function of the reserve team?” asks Jaume Marcet, one of the journalists who best knows the La Masia youngsters after broadcasting their matches on Barça TV. Is it a link? he wonders. ”Some player joins the first team from the youth team”, a circumstance that does not go unnoticed by the cadets who prefer to bet on a foreign team over Barça B. “Xavi, in addition,” Marcet insists, “turned some training sessions into castings to know the promises; There he discovered Fermín.”

Yamal and Balde, against Granada.
Yamal and Balde, against Granada.Miguel Angel Molina (EFE)

Xavi was surprised when he returned in 2021: he did not recognize the play of Barça or La Masia. “We must return to the lost model,” stated the coach, once contrasting the regression suffered by betting on a more direct game, distant from positional play and close to that of the Premier. “The prototype was Ilaix Moriba”, agree in La Masia. Although institutional instability has affected training and the commitment to professional staff, recruitment has continued to be effective, “because the services of scouting “They have become more professional and we have good programs and better technicians,” they insist on a Masia pending today the guidelines of Deco and Alexanco, the director of grassroots football who was already with Laporta from 2005 to 2010.

“The young people are more prepared, they have improved in development and mentality and they don’t care about the category, the rival and the field on which they play,” says a coach who admires the coordination work of Marc Serra and Sergi Milà. The key is to internalize the music theory of La Masia, “understand its game,” Planes concludes. An idea so strong that several coaches believe that many of the athletes trained in the Barça club only serve to play in the context or in the football orbit of Barcelona. “The opposite of Madrid, which has an excellent base, but prefers to export its promises,” the school warns.

It can also be discussed whether Barça has been able to absorb all the talent generated if we look at the departures of Kubo, Olmo, Simons or Onana, not to mention Nico, Abde, Ansu or Eric García. The promotion of the quarry depends on the courage of the coach and many circumstances, most of which are not easy for Xavi. Injuries plague the team and there is no money in the club at a time when Laporta needs victories and players to fill Montjuïc. The levers, however, do not guarantee the titles nor are there eleven players in the quarry like Lamine Yamal.

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