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Barcelona's academy is drying up

Barça's youth set-up is no longer producing as it once did. The club has begun to complete its squad places with new signings to support the starters or, in more recent times, has made purchases to come straight into the first eleven: Rakitic, Neymar, and now Umtiti... Those coming up from below don't even make the squad. At one point Victor Valdes, Puyol, Pique, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta, Cesc, Messi, Pedro all arrived together... with gaps being filled by Thiago, Rafinha, Montoya, Cuenca, Tello, Sergi Roberto.. . And I'll have forgotten others. Now the few great players stay and the back up is more sparse.

When youth development works.

A golden generation

Its zenith has its image: the Golden Ball podium with Messi, Iniesta and Xavi, a moment for history. That success quite possibly contributed to the departure of Rodolf Borrell (now with Manchester City) and Albert Benaiges (in Qatar) with offers that the club could not match. Back then everyone thought that this golden generation had just been a spontaneous event. They belittled the work and perseverance installed at the club by that mythical man named Oriol Tort. Others took the view that anyone could do it, and we see now that this is not the case, they can't.

Oriol Tort with the kids of La Masia.

A changed world

Last year Barça B signed six players in the winter transfer market so as not to fall into the Tercera. This year they have continued along the same lines. In total, there are seventeen players in the squad signed from outside the club without having passed through the juvenile ranks. And further down the club it is the same story (much like Real Madrid and many others) where they increasingly look to traffic boys traded from all corners of the globe, in search of the next Messi. The old model (like that of the Molowny-Del Bosque era at Real Madrid) of patient club men has become obsolete, with the idea that money can always replace talent and hard work.

Messi: everyone is searching for the next superstar.