A bad time for youth academies
Barcelona's 3-1 win over Manchester United in the 2010/2011 Champions League final was one of the great nights for Pep Guardiola as a head coach.
I was fortunate enough to be present at the ground on the outskirts of London and have never witnessed a team ever play a game of football with such precision, moving the ball around with velocity, poise and control. That Barça side had seven former Barcelona youth players in the side. Eight if you include Carles Puyol who made an appearance from the bench on the way back from an injury.
This was a fantastic moment in the history of 'La Masia' featuring a generation of talent, the likes of we may never see again. Sadly, in the modern day and given the current policy at the Catalan club this is something were unlikely to see for some while. Lenglet, Semedo, Arthur, Dembèlè and now Frenkie de Jong are players, that despite their obvious talent, stop the progression of Barça`s young players from breaking into the first team. These players may be necessary acquisitions but their presence at Camp Nou will certainly impact on the development of the likes of Aleñá, Oriol Busquets or Riqui Puig.
It's a similar case at Real Madrid where the arrival of Rodrygo, Vinicius, Brahim or Militao are far from good news for the youth system. By the way, the players mentioned above from both clubs have generated over 500 million euro in transfer business and are all U-23 players. For some while now, Spain's leading clubs have moved their focus away from their youth set-ups.