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Mundial de Clubes

Barça field team with no youth products for first time in 16 years

BARCELONA

Barça field team with no youth products for first time in 16 years

Barcelona field first team with no youth products for 16 years

SALVADOR SAS

DIARIO AS

In Tuesday night's LaLiga clash with Celta Vigo, Barcelona named a side with no La Masia graduates for the first time since back in April 2002.

Barcelona's LaLiga draw at Celta Vigo on Tuesday saw them name a line-up without a single club youth product - for the first time in 16 years. You have to go back to a league clash at Athletic Bilbao on 6 April 2002 to find the last Barça XI without any graduates of the giants' famed La Masia academy.

That day, Barcelona's team was: Bonano; Reiziger, Christanval, Abelardo, Coco; Cocu, Rochemback; Luis Enrique, Rivaldo, Overmars; and Saviola. At Balaídos, meanwhile, Ernesto Valverde went with: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Yerry Mina, Vermaelen, Digne; Paulinho, André Gomes, Denis; Dembélé, Alcácer and Coutinho.

Two of seven first-team youth products set to leave...

Currently, 31% (seven out of 24) of the Barça first-team squad came up through the LaLiga leaders' youth ranks: Gerard Piqué, Sergi Roberto, Aleix Vidal, Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Lionel Messi.

Given that Iniesta and Vidal are both in line to leave in the summer, it is a percentage that is in danger of dropping next season, with only Carles Aleñá - and, at a push, Abel Ruiz and Miranda - threatening to break into the senior squad from Barça B, the club's second team, in the short-term future.

What's more, Barcelona's shortage of in-house talent is also evidenced by the fact that, over the past three years, Barça B have had to bring in no fewer than 34 signings from outside the club, instead of promoting from within the academy.

Barcelona vice Mestre justifies situation with dual argument

When quizzed about the waning impact of youth at Barcelona, vice-president Jordi Mestre has turned to two arguments in his efforts to justify the situation. Firstly, says Mestre, the demands of first-team football have reached unprecedented levels and, if the club are to win trophies, only a chosen few can make the step-up.

Secondly, he argues, youth development is a process subject to the unpredictable emergence of particularly talented crops of players, and it will be very hard to repeat the generation of Iniesta, Piqué, Busquets, Messi and Pedro, which joined forces with the earlier group led by Xavi, Carles Puyol and Víctor Valdés.

Nevertheless, it seems clear that Barcelona have a problem. La Masia is disappearing from their team photo.

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