3 La Masia players who impressed the most for Barcelona during pre-season
La Masia is responsible for producing some of the greatest players in Barcelona's history, including the greatest of them all - Lionel Messi.
The club's academy has played a pivotal role in Barcelona's history. The successes enjoyed by the Blaugrana since the turn of the century would not have been possible without La Masia.
The famed 'class of 1987' including Messi, Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique and Pedro is perhaps the most illustrious set. However, multiple other world-class players have also passed through the walls of La Masia and gone on to achieve greatness with Barcelona and beyond.
There has been a paucity of promotions from the academy to the senior team in recent years, but that is not a smudge on the academy's reputation. A number of factors are responsible for this change, including the fact that the current graduates are almost impossible to displace from the senior team.
That said, there is still an abundance of talent in La Masia, as evidenced by the fact that of six UEFA Youth League tournaments played so far, Barcelona's youth side have won two titles while also making it to the semifinal on two other occasions.
Barcelona's recently concluded pre-season tour gave ample opportunities to see some La Masia stars in action. The exhibition nature of the campaign meant that there was not too much riding on the results, with more emphasis placed on player performance and adaptability to tactical demands.
While a couple of La Masia players were auditioned, Ernesto Valverde would have been most impressed with the performance of these three in particular.
#3 Alex Collado
Alex Collado is a 20-year-old Spanish Under-19 international, primarily deployed as an attacking midfielder.
Having spent three seasons on the books of city rivals Espanyol, Collado joined the Barcelona youth group in 2009. He rose through the ranks, culminating with his debut for the senior side in a 2-0 defeat to Celta Vigo in May 2019.
Collado is highly regarded at Barcelona, and there are strong indications that the club is weighing up the option of promoting him to the senior team. He did his chances of promotion a world of good with his displays in pre-season.
The Sabadell native made an appearance in each of Barcelona's first three matches, starting from the onset against Chelsea and Vissel Kobe, while coming off the bench with 11 minutes to go against Arsenal.
The left footer also showed his versatility, as he was deployed in multiple positions by Valverde. He played as a left winger against Chelsea, while dropping back into midfield against Vissel Kobe.