At Barcelona, winning championships is in the DNA of the Catalan club and they’ll be looking for a return to the top of the La Liga table.
FC Barcelona were a solitary victory away from being crowned champions in the 2016-17 season, finishing a paltry 3 points behind their fierce rivals Real Madrid. As ever with FC Barcelona, the future looks bright and their famed La Masia training academy seems set to continue its success of turning gifted youngsters into first team players with an impressive set of soccer skills.
What is La Masia?
La Masia de Can Planes is the world class youth training facility for FC Barcelona. It is perhaps the most famous training academy in world soccer, having produced some of the greatest soccer players to grace the turf of the Camp Nou in generations: Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Lionel Messi. The Barcelona Academy really shot to prominence in 2012 when FC Barcelona was able to field a fully homegrown soccer team, an incredible achievement in what has become a truly global sport.
Here's what Barcelona lenged Andres Iniesta said about La Masia:
“It was never easy to leave my family when I was just 12. It was a hard journey, but all that sacrifice was worth it because my dream of being a success at Barcelona came true."
The “Football Factory”
La Masia has done more than produce soccer players just for FC Barcelona. There are more La Masia graduates playing top flight soccer in Europe, than from any other academy. Players such as Pepe Reina, Thiago Motta and Thiago Alcantara have all gone on to have successful careers away from Catalunya.
Often these players are sold for substantial sums of money and go to play for big clubs like Bayern Munich or Manchester Uinted - and then Barcelona will often try to buy them back if they can later in the players career. It usually turns out to be a winning strategy for the club.
Learn more about La Masia and see pictures of the training fields here: La Masia
"Youngsters need opportunities — everyone needs time," former Barcelona player Guillermo Amor told The Associated Press. "With all conditions being equal, a homegrown player has a better chance than one who comes in from abroad. The Xavis and Iniestas took 10 years to get to where they are."
Global Soccer Expansion
FC Barcelona are never ending in their quest for sporting dominance. So it’s no surprise that they’ve expanded their youth operations onto U.S. soil. The club runs soccer academies in locations throughout the states, offering trials and training schools to youth players. The exercise is about more than just finding players though, as FC Barcelona looks to tap into the fastest growing market in soccer.
The Future Stars
So, who can we count on to make the jumps from youth academy to the bench, then onto becoming a first team regular? First up is Munir El Haddadi. The young winger is highly rated and spent last season on loan at Valencia having made 15 total La Liga appearances for FCB in the 2015/16 season. Other players looking to make the leap are midfielders Sergi Samper and Carles Alena, whilst Wilfrid Kaptoum and Marc Cardona will look to make into league matchday squads having been restricted to Copa Del Rey.
With a famed academy and expansion into new territories, FC Barcelona look set to continue their history of blooding young first team soccer players from the bench, into the first team. They’ll hope that these youngsters will see the club returning to its championship winning ways not just this year but for years to come.