Let’s be honest, when we talk about successful youth policies at football clubs, you can count on one hand those who know how to bring through players of a good enough standard to play for their first teams.
Manchester United have often been thought of as the best example, but not since the ‘Class of 92’ has there really been a steady enough stream of youth talent, home grown or brought in, to pepper the Old Trafford ranks.
No, when we are talking about youth players making the step up, one club stands alone. Barcelona.
Pique, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and Busquets are just five names of football royalty that have cost the club precisely nothing but wages. There isn’t another club in the world that could compete with that.
On that note, let’s take a look at the new crop of players who could be set to make their mark at the Camp Nou in the near future.
#1 Carlos Alena
The new great hope of the coaches at Barcelona’s academy, he has been at the club since he was eight, captaining every team he has represented, and has already made an appearance with the first team against Hercules in the Copa del Rey. A spectacular goal from the youngster really announced him to the wider public.
He is a strong and combative midfielder but one who has super ball control, and is just as comfortable playing either the attacking or deeper lying role.
For a player that is still only 18 years of age, he has a wonderful appreciation of the game already. It would be no surprise at all to see Alena regularly feature on the subs bench in 2017/18 with a view to an occasional start by the end of that campaign.
The world truly is his oyster at this point.