La Masia Failure Seeing Barca Lose Their Aura

Posted: August 14, 2015 in Football
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“All hail the great Barcelona,” they exclaimed upon the latest incarnation of the Catalan side raising the European Champions Cup aloft at the beginning of June, as Luis Enrique’s side defeated Juventus to win the competition for the fourth time in the past ten years.

It truly is a great accomplishment for any club to be so dominant in a competition that pits the best sides from around Europe in a fight to the death to be the last one standing come the end.

There has always been something special about the Barcelona success as well, more so that stood out from the remainder of the elite on the continent; the idea that they have become the symbol of an oppressed people, the congregation for Catalunya able to meet and be as one, completely separate from Spain.

Couple that with their success being so frequently built upon products of their own youth system, with their La Masia academy the example for any other side in the world of football, and you have a wonderful little story, with every victory meaning so much to players and fans alike.

Players like Carles Puyol, Xavi and Andres Iniesta have spearheaded this latest triumphant spell littered with trophies, all coming out of the Barcelona academy to join Lionel Messi as stars in a side already chock full of them.

It was a sight that the vast majority of neutrals could get on board with; this wondrous club that embraced local culture and built their success upon their own triumphing over the other big clubs in Europe, all bankrolled by mega-rich owners and buying their success.

The sight of Xavi lifting the trophy in Berlin was something most could get on board with, the mercurial legend playing his final game for the club before departing for Qatar to play out his twilight years. Three trophies came in his final season at Camp Nou, the second time he had achieved the treble in a fabulous career.


Xavi said a tearful goodbye, but their is no local hero ready to take his place

While that departure felt like the end of an era on a personal note for Xavi, his was the latest of a number of club-bred legends to leave, without anymore being groomed to take the place.

Where there were points during the reign of Pep Guardiola that you could point to eight players that had emerged from La Masia in the starting line-up, the number is quickly dwindling.

There were still technically four that started in Tuesday night’s European Super Cup victory over Sevilla, but that is including Gerard Pique, who jumped ship at the thought of learning his trade in Barca’s B team and spent a few years in Manchester before heading back.

Of those four, the youngest and newest addition to the Barcelona first team to hold down a regular position is Sergio Busquets, now 27 and not exactly the new kid on the block.

With Pique having spent time away and Lionel Messi now having probably become bigger than the club/sport/planet and definitely being out for his own best interests at this stage, that leaves very few players that are Barca born and bred left capable of keeping Barca at the level they are.

One only had to witness Andres Iniesta going off with the score at 4-1 to notice the aura disappear from La Blaugrana, with Sevilla quickly finding renewed belief that this game was not yet over, pulling it back to 4-4 and forcing extra-time.

Sergi Roberto

Will Sergi Roberto be the next La Masia graduate to leave?

His replacement, Sergi Roberto is one that has come out of the academy, but has been simply on the fringes of the first team for three years now, failing to force his way into making any remarkable run of games and looking likely to be the next player to move on and try their hand somewhere else in the not too distant future.

Adama Traore is the latest to walk down this path after securing his move to Aston Villa, joining the likes of Gerard Deulofeu, Cristian Tello, Thiago Alcantara, Marc Muniesa, Martin Montoya, Bojan, Isaac Cuenca and even Cesc Fabregas (twice) in pursuing first team opportunities elsewhere.

There appears to be a definite shift in ideology at Barcelona from the club that won over the hearts of neutrals across the world with their own brand of football, with Barca seeming much more interested in a ‘Galactico’ style of player recruitment now, with high-profile and expensive signings such as Neymar and Luis Suarez pushing out people like Pedro, a man who has been with the club since the age of 17.

With the La Masia old guard either already left or approaching their twilight years and no more prospects being given a fair crack of the whip among increased expectations and expensive imported replacements, Barca are losing their aura and the respect of those around them.

Play great football they may still do, and that may keep plenty of people onside. But with that loss of aura comes a loss of respect from their peers; and with that, the potential for years of frustration, imbalance and upheaval, like their neighbours in the capital.


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