The Xavi generation was an exception. Look at the Barca legends before that generation and you would find names like Laudrup, Koeman, Ronaldo, Rivaldo etc. They were not developed at the club. Even that generation was helped by the like of Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Henry and Dani Alves. So, Barca fans should stop deluding ourselves into thinking that La Masia is a mythical Jedi temple and if the club would just put a bunch of kids from it into the first team, they will defeat the empire that is Real Madrid and dominate Europe again.
Second, to have a world beater generation like Barca had not long ago, a lot of things have to line up.
- La Masia was lucky enough to have Iniesta, Xavi, Busquet and especially Messi enrolling. These are players whose natural talent was so great that they would do well at plenty of clubs.
- Barca under Laporta followed Cruyff’s model very closely and have teams at all levels playing the same type of football. This gave us players who might not be the best in the world in their positions but were the best in the world for Barcelona. For example, Valdes was not the best goalkeeper but the best keeper-sweeper, the type of keeper Barca preferred, in the world (until Neuer met Pep), and Busquet was not the best traditional DM in the world but was vital to Barca’s system. One can also argue that Barca’s system is as important to Xavi, Iniesta and Messi as they are to it.
- In Pep Guardiola, Barca had a coach who understood and was obsessed with Cruyff’s philosophy. Thus, players don’t need to adapt or learn new ideas every few seasons. They just have to keep doing what they were doing since joining La Masia at a tender age.
However, this is not an excuse for the poor job the current board and the last few coaches have been doing. While we can’t expect La Masia to produce a Messi every other year, we would expect such a fine academy to produce good players like Pedro or Batra, players who are not world beaters in their own right but who would do a decent job when the team need fresh pairs of legs, fairly consistently. However, the last player in that bracket was Munir and he was nothing to get excited about.
This board wanted to depart from Cruyff (they even stripped him off a honorary title.) As such
- They appointed coaches who didn’t care much about youth development. Besides Tito, the post-Pep coaches didn’t watch the youth team play.
- They appointed coaches who weren’t obsessed with possession based football.
- They broke the continuity in the club’s funnel. Barca B is currently playing very anti-Barca football.
- Youngsters are pushed out on bad loans instead of given chances to develop in house. The thing with players like Xavi and Iniesta is that until they’re mature, they would do pretty poorly at teams fighting relegations because these teams need muscle way more than they do finesse. Samper is a player with huge potential that was completely wasted by these stupid loans.
So, to summarize: the board did a terrible job managing the club and destroyed the youth funnel, wasting many reasonably talented player. At the same time, buying the best players elsewhere is also part of Barca’s history.