La Masia has been, is and always will be Barcelona’s evergreen gem in this beautiful world of football, no matter the intense doubt and criticism it recieves seldom
2010: The news had been broken! What a day for the Catalans! The Ballon d’Or had its final three nominees: Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernandez. And all three were from La Masia.
Every player that comes from La Masia has been moulded with one man’s philosophy of Total Football: Johan Cruyff. And his philosophy remains ages ahead of normal attacking football. Since Laporta’s previous term as a president, Barcelona did not depend on his youth, after the presidents changed, and one after another got arrested as years passed by. The answer for Barcelona does not lie outside Spain, but inside its own academy.
Some of Barcelona’s best have been world-class players: S. Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Fabregas, Valdes, Jordi Alba and obviously Lionel Messi. It seems that the only way out of the severe financial trouble that Barca are in, La Masia is the only way out.
And there are some perfect gems at display in this perfect season so far:
1. Ansu Fati: He is the biggest example of what La Masia is actually capable of producing. He burst onto the scene in the August of 2019, and has shown no signs of stopping at all. The moment he stepped foot on the pitch, he started making records. And he is Barca’s youngest La Liga goalscorer in history aged 16 years and 304 days. Unfortunately, his remarkable progress was halted in November 2020 when he picked up a knee injury.
2. Ronald Araujo: He has been a sensation at defence: single-handedly dominating Barca’s backline with sometimes little or no help from Lenglet. Ronald Araujo, in all the games he has played, has never been dribbled past and Barca have won every match he has played in. What a start for the 21 year old!
3. Riqui Puig: Riqui has a fluidity in his play which not many graduates have had since Xavi. But we’re not comparing. We’re stating what we are seeing. Puig had been told that he should leave on loan, but he stayed and proved himself after netting against Elche, and the final penalty against Real Sociedad. Puig may be underrated, but he has a grit and composure, loyalty which he is rare in today’s athletes.
4. Oscar Mingueza: Mingueza has recently become one of Koeman’s most reliable, having started for all games in the recent ones. His versatility as a centre-back and as a right back has made him feature best in a fantastical back 3. He recently had his first goal assisted none other by the greatest La Masia graduate: Messi, and when asked Mingueza exclaims he will never forget that day.
5. Alex Collado: This player has been deprived of the attention he deserves at Barca. Alex Collado is a giant in Barca B. So much so, that he remains unplayable sometimes.
He has created some brilliant goals out of nothing, and dons the captain’s armband and the number 10 for the second team. We’re not making a comparison, because Leo remains completely on an other-worldly level. But Collado remains an extremely efficient right winger for Barca. Fortunately, he is being promoted to the first team next season.
6. Ilaix Moriba: Moriba’s physicality and connection with Leo Messi seems to be everything that a Barca fan can want. Having recently been entrusted By Koeman, he too, has scored one goal and provided two assists for the Catalans. What’s better is that he is just an 18-year old.
With these youngsters at the pivot of the revolution at the club, Barcelona seems a better way off in the future.