Top 5 Barcelona players to have graduated from La Masia
Barcelona recently spent £142m on Philippe Coutinho in the winter transfer market which raised quite a few eyebrows. While there is no question that they have purchased a top quality player, the club has moved away from its policy of giving talented youngsters from their famous academy, La Masia, a chance in the first team, instead relying on proven stars to fill the gaps in their first team.
Keeping this in mind, we'll take a look at the top 5 players that the Catalan giants have nurtured, who have been instrumental in making them one of the best club sides of all time.
But first, let us talk about the academy itself.
La Masia literally translates to “The Farmhouse". Built in 1702, it did start out as a farmhouse. In 1979, it was first used by the club to house its young footballers who originated from outside Barcelona. Today, it holds more than 300 young players and has been instrumental in Barcelona's European success as well as the Spanish national team's 2010 FIFA World Cup, and the 2008 and 2012 European Championship wins.
The idea for the youth academy and it’s ideology was proposed to the then Barcelona President Josep Nunez by Johan Cruyff, the legendary Dutch and Barcelona player. The Academy teaches its pupils the application of a hybrid of ‘Total football’ propagated by the Dutch side of the '70s with the traditional Spanish one-touch play. The ‘Total Football’ approach requires the players to move in a fluid formation, where players can interchange positions quickly.
This technical aspect has been ingrained into the graduates of the academy from a very young age, and it was one of the reasons for Barcelona’s success from 2008-2014, their uncompromising belief in this philosophy of passing and moving the ball.
Here are the players who epitomise what La Masia stands for.
#5 Sergio Busquets
Vision, ball control, physical prowess, technical skills and accurate passing ability; Busquets has everything it takes to make a robust central defensive midfielder. Plus he is also capable of plugging in as a central defender when the need arises. He joined Barcelona’s youth ranks in 2005 after spells at various local clubs like CEF Barbera Andalucia and UE Lleida. His performances for the youth teams propelled him to the first team in 2008 and thus becoming an integral part of the team in a relatively short span of time.
His performances on and off the ball drew many plaudits leading to a Spanish national side call-up just one year after making his club debut. Although his contributions to the team are not highlighted enough in the media due to the exploits of Messi and co., his ability to dictate the tempo of his team is crucial as a deep-lying playmaker.
Vicente Del Bosque, Busquets ex-manager for his country sums him up best, “If you watch the whole game, you won't see Busquets- but watch Busquets and you will see the whole game”.