Oh ye of little faith!
It wasn’t that long ago when La Masia was considered all but dead and buried as one of the major facets of the success of FC Barcelona.
The production line had stopped producing any young players of the required standard, the coaching philosophy had all but stagnated, and the club were seemingly going down a different route.
Yet another element of the Josep Maria Bartomeu era which almost brought the club to its knees.
Whatever any culer thinks of Joan Laporta at present – and it’s obvious that he too is a polarising character – he has helped set the wheels back in motion at the club’s academy, and it’s finally thriving once more.
Gavi and Alejandro Balde have long since cemented their place in the first team, and whilst it’s true that they’re far from the finished article, it’s often conveniently forgotten that both are just 19 years of age.
Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
There is so much more to come from the pair who, injuries permitting, will be mainstays of the team for years to come.
The excitement surrounding Lamine Yamal is both understandable and a huge worry too.
Everyone has seen in the space of a couple of games what the 16-year-old is capable of. It isn’t just a deftness of touch or confidence that belies his young age, but the maturity to know when to beat his man or when to play the simple, square ball.
The difficulty for Xavi is knowing how much responsibility to place on his shoulders at this very early stage of his career.
We’ve seen with Ansu and others – Gai Assulin anyone – that being ‘the new’ superstar, isn’t something that generally works out well.
Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images
Gavi, Balde and Lamine have put La Masia right back on the map at this point, and with a number of other young players expected to come through over the next 12-18 months, the immediate and long-term future of the academy – and therefore the first team – looks very healthy indeed.
Barca might not ever get close to having a full XI of La Masia stars playing in a game again, but if they’re able to bring through a steady stream of players who are up to the task, that will absolutely be seen as a success.
For now, Xavi can be happy with the trio of standard bearers which are helping to drive forward this new Barca vintage.