masia | 2016-01-03
Meet five of the best upcoming La Masia stars
La Masia is a blessing of fantastic footballing prospects. It is considered to be on par with the academies of Ajax and Benfica in growing exceptional talents on a regular basis.
Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Messi, Guardiola, Piqué, Busquets and Amor are some of the players to have come out of the famed academy with flying colours and making a name for themselves in the FC Barcelona senior team and the international stage.
La Masia de Can Planes, usually shortened to La Masia ("The Farmhouse") is commonly used to describe the Barcelona youth academy was originally located near the Camp Nou in the Les Corts district of Barcelona.
Barça's youth academy holds over 300 young players, who are provided academic educational and football training. Here they learn the Barca way of playing in the hopes of playing for the senior team one day.
Currently the B team is struggling, and the need for the youngsters to step up has only increased. Fortunately there are many talents who are destined to become players of the highest quality. Here are the top 5 players that hold that potential.
1) Sergi Samper, 20 (Defensive Midfielder)
Sergi Samper Montaña has been one of the hottest prospects of La Masia for a decade. He made his first team debut in a 1-0 win against APOEL in the UEFA Champions League, showing some of his best qualities.
He has had minutes under Luis Enrique for the senior team this season and slowly continues his professional career. He is seen as a natural replacement for Busquets as holding midfielder, but displacing the genius of Badia is nothing but a pipedream. Luckily, Samper could also perform a role similar to Xavi's one day.
Calm and collected on the ball, Samper is captain material. The young footballer already has international recognition and features as one of the best midfielders in Spain, attracting interest from clubs like Arsenal and Liverpool.
2) Oriol Busquets, 16 (Midfielder)
The 16-year-old has no relation to first-team star Sergio Busquets, he is more of a tall, box-to-box midfield player. Oriol has impressed a host of clubs the past year and previously refused offers from abroad.
Catalan newspaper Sport says he’s caught the eye of Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, who apparently made an offer to bring him to England. The deal is complicated as the youngster recently signed a new three-year deal at Barça.
He is still quite young and will require time to make it to the first team, but at 16 he is already considered one to watch.
3) Alen Halilovic, 19 (Attacking Midfielder)
Alen Halilović is turning out to be a gem. On loan to Sporting de Gijón, he's already been the star player for the newly promoted outfit, winning back to back Player of the Month awards at the club.
The "Croatian Messi" moniker he was handed upon arrival in Catalonia will always seem like a stretch, but given his performances since then, it's understandable. Halilovic’s style is fluid and collected. Very easy on the eye, his is a special talent that only the very best prospects possess.
Given the way he is performing at the moment, he may be called into the first team as early as next Summer. With an eye for the killer pass, he sometimes tucks in with a spectacular goal or two in times of need.
4) Carles Aleñá, 17 (Attacking Midfielder)
During Rivaldo’s first season at Barcelona in 1998, Carles Aleñá was born. By the time the Brazilian left Camp Nou, Aleñá, whose father had played football professionally, was smitten. And he had a dream to see his child play and shine for the club.
Since joining Barça as an eight-year-old, Aleñá has captained all the teams and has played in the Juvenil A age group this season, with some appearances for the B team as well. He is also captain of Spain’s U17 side. A creative midfielder, his name regularly appears on the score sheet and SPORT’s Josep Capdevila, who frequently covers La Masia, picked him out as one to watch.
In Barca's UEFA Youth League match with Roma this season, the 17-year-old scored a genuine wonder goal. It is one among the many yet to come.
5) Lee Seung-woo, 17 (Forward)
Currently regarded as one of the best young players in the world. Constantly scouted by the club, Lee came from South Korea and made his move to Barça after shining at the Danone Nations Cup.
After joining Barcelona, Lee went on to progress through the youth ranks, scoring consistently and winning MVP awards at several tournaments, earning him a reputation as one of La Masia's top talents and attracting interest from most of Europe's top clubs, including Real Madrid.
He has recently been promoted to the Barcelona B-Team but due to FIFA ban, he is unable to play with his teammates until he's 18 years old, luckily the wait is almost over. He will officially turn 18 in January 2016 and could sign a new contract that will keep him in Catalonia for the foreseeable future.
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WRITTEN BY: Abhishek Das
A football crazy Civil Engineer and a die hard culé since the magical years of Ronaldinho. He has a passion for writing and works as a columnist and content writer.