opinions | 2016-05-27
Barcelona’s academy continues to be the best in Europe
The club's youth development facilities are still a guarantee of success, shown by youth graduates participation in Champions League finals
There have been many coveted academies in world football over the years. Across Europe, England, Spain, France, Holland and Germany have all seen relative periods of success in producing world-class talent.
Notable cases such as Louis Van Gaal’s Ajax team that won the European Cup in 1995 featured a host of academy graduates including the De Boer brothers, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Marc Overmars, Danny Blind and Frank Rijkaard among others. Fast forward four years to 1999 and the famous Manchester United side that beat Bayern Munich in the final, featured homegrown players like David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville, Nicky Butt and Wes Brown.
However, in modern day football no youth systems stands up to Barcelona’s legendary academy. Over the last decade it has produced a slew of footballers that have gone onto to play international football as well as grace the Champions League, even if they didn’t make the grade at the Camp Nou.
Producing such talent in one batch like in the aforementioned Ajax and Manchester United teams of old is no mean feat though and seems to only come around every so often. But lest not forget that Barcelona eclipsed both of those teams during Pep Guardiola’s reign as Barca manager during 2008-2012 when he guided the team to 14 trophies in four seasons.
During Guardiola’s successful stint as manager at Barca he had the luxury of a raft of academy graduates at his disposal. This recently published infographic by Bwin shows just how successful that team was, featuring eight ex-academy products in his team during the two Champions League triumphs. Captain Carlos Puyol, goalkeeper Victor Valdes, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Lionel Messi and Pedro were all byproducts of the legendary youth system.
The above infographic, which shows the best academies across Europe represented by how many players have appeared in the Champions League final more than twice, just goes to highlight Guardiola’s formidable side in all its glory. Barca after all, lifted the Champions League twice under his guidance and was practically untouchable during that period.
Although looking at the current crop of players, albeit talented, it doesn’t have the same Catalan look to it as Guardiola’s team with its predominantly Spanish backbone. Today, Barca’s starting XI features Piqué, Iniesta, Messi, Jordi Alba and Busquets who all graduated from the youth ranks but that doesn’t mean there aren’t players that have the ability to break into the first team knocking on Luis Enrique’s door. There are numerous high rated prospects, as you will find on this Squawka report.
Currently Barca has big hopes for many of their current crop of youngsters excelling out on loan, playing their trade in Barca’s various youth teams and the Barcelona B team. Among them is Croatian Alen Halilovic who has just completed a loan spell as Sporting Gijón, the lively forward Munir El-Haddadi who played for Barcelona B last term, the Busquets-like midfielder Sergi Samper who has been highly rated by the club and its coaches for the past decade at young age.
With a seemingly endless supply of exciting talent coming through the ranks at the Camp Nou, along with a scouting network better than any in world football, Barca’s future looks bright as they continue to build for the future.
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