8 La Masia academy graduates you probably did not know of
Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy is considered to be a conveyor belt of talent. Boasting graduates like Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta, the academy consistently produces the best players in the world, year in year out.
In fact, back In 2010, La Masia achieved a new record of becoming the first academy to have produced all three Ballon d’Or finalists in the same year with Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi, and Xavi.
On that note, here is a list of players you did not know graduated from the La Masia academy:
#8 Keita Balde
Keita was born in Catalonia to Senegalese parents and joined Barcelona’s La Masia academy at the ripe age of 9. Touted as a future prospect, Balde came up rapidly through the ranks until an incident 6 years later that changed his entire fortunes. Away on a tour of Qatar, Keita placed an ice cube in the bed of a teammate as a practical joke and was sent on loan to UE Cornella as a punishment.
The youngster was prolific for Cornella’s youth side, scoring 47 goals before turning down a return to Barcelona in favour of a move to Lazio.The 21-year-old was, however, prevented from representing Lazio competitively due to the fact that he had not been granted Spanish citizenship.
After legal issues were sorted, Balde made his senior debut as a substitute in Lazio’s 3-0 win over Chievo in September 2013 and then got his first start against Legia Warsaw in the Europa League. Despite his fine performances for the club, Lazio slumped to 9th to end a disappointing season.
Keita has since gone off the boil somewhat and had a disappointing 2015 campaign. His talent remains, though, and a move away from Italy may be what the Senegalese needs. Like his coach at Lazio said, "He’s a diamond that needs polishing, a talent out of the ordinary."