“People come here to Barcelona to learn our
‘magic secret’ like it’s Coca Cola’s recipe”. But it’s not that simple. There is no secret. La Masia is a product of years of hard work
by many different people who believed in the same idea and system – which is not secret
either” – iconic La Masia coach Joan Vilá, in an interview with Michael Burgess in 2016. La Masia is not what it used to be. In 2012, Tito Vilanova played with 11 La Masia
players for 60 minutes against Levante for the first time in history. In 2010, the world’s top three players consisted
of Messi, Iniesta and Xavi, according to the Ballon d’Or voting. All three were developed by the same school
and idea: La Masia. Expecting that to always remain the case,
for La Masia to keep producing at the rate of its 2000s peak, was always unrealistic. But today, the contrast to today is huge. So what went wrong? Catalan journalists argue that one of La Masia’s
problems is an inability to get rid of talents – and not hold on to them. Pep Segura, formerly in charge of the football
department at the club, emphasised in 2014 how important it was to rememdy this issue:
“The possibility of loaning out players is not used well enough. 10% of B players should come to the first
team, 40% should be lent and the rest should be released to make room for new U19 players. Hard decisions must be made to not stagnate
the system.” Most youth teams have between 22 and 26 players,
which means that many talents sit on the bench without any getting enough minutes. Ajax consistently keeps their squad under
18 players but, for example, Barça’s Juvenil B (U18) had a squad of 26, Juvenil A (U19)
had 22 and the B team had 24 last season. (Joe: can you ask Simon to double-check these
figures? It’s not clear to me, but he might have
better sources.) Talent development around the world suffers
from the same paradox: the better players you produce, the better the first team and
the better the next generation must be to break through. Barça’s golden tiki-taka generation emerged
during periods of poor results and mediocre squads. There were fewer strong predecessors and expectations
were lower. That meant that there was less pressure and
more opportunity to trust in new talents. Ivan Rakitić confirmed this in an interview
with Sport in 2018: “I would love to see a generation like Puyol,
Xavi, Iniesta, Valdés, Messi emerge every second year”, Rakitic said. “But it is not easy. Barcelona has reached such a high level that
there is no room to test and then see what happens. The players must really be talented before
it is possible. If the first team was worse, it would have
been much easier.” While the first team has become much better,
another phenomenon is also seen within the club that increases the pressure on talents. Result-based football. Johan Cruyff was known to always ask the youth
coaches how their team had played in a given match, and never what the result had been. But Cruyff’s ideology has been diluted. Barcelona has evolved from the mantra that
“we must develop players” to a more and homogenized “we must win”. Take the B team as an example. In 2007, Guardiola and Tito Vilanova took
over a historically bad B-team, who had just been relegated to the fourth division. Guardiola introduced a new system of “foundation
players”. These players were typically purchased from
other clubs and were older than the others. They helped to get short-term results but
still left room for young talents to develop. However, it was important that they were sold
again inside 2 years so that they would not be an obstacle to home-grown youngsters. When Eusebio became the B-team coach in 2011,
he took this system too literally. The foundation players went from having a
supporting function to taking the place of starlets. This ideology that prioritises short-term
results has spread since Sandro Rosell’s presidency. The transfer policy shows the fear of bad
results from using academy players. Why sell Grimaldo in the winter of 2015 and
buy Lucas Digne the next summer? Why buy midfielders such as André Gomes and
Paulinho when players like Carles Aleña and Sergi Roberto waited patiently for their chance? This goes beyond players, too, with B-team
coaches Jordi Vinyals (2015) and Gerard López (2018) sacked because the team was relegated. After a match in 2010, Guardiola stated that
“the biggest victory is to give a La Masia player their debut”. A total of 28 young talents from La Masia
made their debut during Guardiola’s reign, but since his resignation in 2012, the flow
has dramatically subsided. Short-term success is one of the big factors
behind this recession. Although Tito Vilanova (Guardiola’s successor)
put 11 La Masia players on the field against Levante in November 2012, he only gave one
academy player a debut during his year in charge. The lucky one was Carles Planas, who is now
playing his football with AEK Larnaca. Luis Enrique and Valverde have been so focused
on results that they have rarely trusted in La Masia products. Back in April, Barça lined up without any
La Masia graduates for the first time in 16 years. Piqué also acknowledged back in August that
the lack of confidence shown in the youth is part of the problem:
“The more confidence you give for your own breeding, the greater the chance there is
for those to stay. However, it is also true that some youth players
choose the money rather than the sports project.” Andrés Iniesta agrees that helping to build
belief is key: “There will always be quality players because we have the world’s best academy. The problem is to give them hope and confidence,” Gerard Pique previously mentioned the influence
of money in youth football. Every time an agent seals a new contract for
their player, they get a commission. The bigger the contract, the greater the bonus. Agents can have – apart from taking care of
the player’s administrative work – a hidden agenda. At the same time, we see a tendency for big
clubs to happily use extreme sums of money on the youth section – which increases the
pull effect to the benefit of the agents. Real Madrid has spent 100 million euros on
the renewal of their talent academy “La Fábrica”, and most recently bought an 18-year-old Vinicius
Júnior for 45 million euros. In 2014, Manchester City opened a brand-new
academy that cost 220 million euros. The architects behind that project are the
former leaders during Joan Laporta’s presidency: Txiki Begiristain who is sports director and
Ferran Soriano who is CEO. In Europe, only AFC Ajax refuse to work with
agents working with players under the age of 16. Barça lacks – like many others – a way (or
the courage) to deal with this money-prone tendency encouraged by the expenditure of
big clubs on youth football. Pep Segura, the former head of football, shared
his thoughts on the problem: “We always try to help our youth players. But we will never pay what some agents demand. This involves extreme sums – like 1-2 million
euros for a guarantee that a player, who is already ours, will stay with us.” Some players walking away from La Masia owing
to the jaw dropping sums they can receive at other clubs is just a consequence of Barça
remaining resistant to manipulation. Prior to Laporta taking charge of the club
in 2003, La Masia was the product of the work done by coaches and leaders that had been
there for decades. Oriol Tort, Laureano Ruiz and Joan Martínez
Vilaseca were the first masters that bred the academy from its start in 1979 till the
end of the millennium. Along the way – in the 1980s and 1990s – came
teachers like Joan Vilà, Albert Benaiges, Quique Costas, Rodolfo Borrell (now assistant
manager in Manchester City), Paco Seirullo, Albert Capellas and Álex García. When Laporta became president, FC Barcelona
was in a dilemma. The commercialisation of football was accelerating,
and big money was pumped into certain clubs by hyper-wealthy people and organisations. This divided FC Barcelona; Should they keep
on being unique or should they go with the flow and forget traditions? Sandro Rosell, the then-vice president, was
the first one to quit. He did so in 2005 as a protest against Laporta’s
romantic approach to the issues. He wrote books decrying Laporta’s naivety
and, in 2010, was elected as his successor. In the wake of a politically divided FC Barcelona,
Rosell replaced his ‘enemies’ with his own supporters. He fired Benaiges, Alexanko and Albert Capellas
who were in charge of the academy and instead brought in Guillermo Amor and Albert Puig,
only to sack them in 2014 in response to the scandal involving Barcelona’s acquisition
of foreign minors. Later in the year, Rosell himself resigned
suddenly, because of controversies regarding the club’s deal to sign Neymar. Vice president at the time, Josep Bartomeu,
took the reins, creating further change. Since Laporta’s presidency, constant switches
in organisation and personnel have continued to occur due to politics, scandals and resignations. It’s a flux which runs contrary to the implantation
of Barcelona’s core principles. Ideas, especially the ones of Barça, take
time to teach to children. Coaches and leaders simply didn’t have enough
time to impart their wisdoms before another would take over and change direction. In the time since, coaches, teachers and ideas
have come and gone, including the La Masia 360 project, conceived as a residence and
school for academy prospects. The implementation of further structural changes
occurred in 2019, but the integration of home-grown talent into the first team remains an issue
in need of resolution. In search of minutes, many prospects have
left La Masia for other clubs. In our final part of this series, we’ll
take a look at those who left Barcelona behind.

La Masia: What Went Wrong at Barcelona’s Academy?

100 thoughts on “La Masia: What Went Wrong at Barcelona’s Academy?

  • September 23, 2019 at 7:34 pm
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    7:55 ROFOLDO

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  • September 23, 2019 at 7:50 pm
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    Oh so this is what Chelsea is doing right now,

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  • September 23, 2019 at 8:20 pm
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    What happened to the vid on spurs? Is that even gonna happen?

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  • September 23, 2019 at 9:32 pm
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    This means Ansu Fati is definitely a starlet to have gone through this into the first team

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  • September 23, 2019 at 10:01 pm
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    Were they ever really that great ? They pushed through a nice generation of footballers, but not anything special besides that. Lyon, monaco, le havre, ajax, genk etc are examples of great academies. I personally think messi has carried them as far as he can and should just leave, his departure would free up alot of creative freedom for other players and would enable them to function more as a team. It’s a bit tiresome to see barca straining themselves to funnel everything into this man in hopes of creating something, he has become bigger than the club.

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  • September 23, 2019 at 10:04 pm
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    Rosell and Bartomeu . That's what's wrong.

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  • September 23, 2019 at 10:11 pm
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    Imagine if tito was still alive😭 Rip

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  • September 23, 2019 at 10:25 pm
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    Stop copying “oh my goal”

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  • September 23, 2019 at 10:39 pm
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    Great Video the 2011 side which beat Man Utd 3-1 was amazing team. so many out of the youth Academy. The Youngsters are not coming threw the ranks as much as 2000's plus they spending massive in the transfer market. Plus they want Messi to win every game for them he's a great player but the other 10 players need to chip in. Football a team game. Just subscribed look forward to more like this great channel.

    Reply
  • September 23, 2019 at 10:40 pm
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    agents are cancer to football

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  • September 23, 2019 at 10:53 pm
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    Where cesc fabregas?

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  • September 23, 2019 at 10:54 pm
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    Please make an Erling Haland video 🙂

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  • September 23, 2019 at 11:03 pm
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    Thiago and Grimaldo and Denis Suarez already left, Roberto and Alena and Sergi Samper are criminally under used inspite of their huge potential . barca buying Dembele for 120M and he is either injured or not played at all because he is a bad fit tactically. same as Vidal, Paulinho, Coutinho, Griezman, Turan, Malcom , Andre Gomez, Paco Alcacer, Vermaelen and the list goes on. basically the the board is throwing ideas on the wall and seeing what sticks. and thinking that money solves everything. its just like Real Madrid's Galacticos and PSG. while clubs like Ajax and Dortmund crush the champions league with their academy graduates.

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  • September 23, 2019 at 11:12 pm
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    Who is here because of Dani Olmo ❤️

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  • September 23, 2019 at 11:38 pm
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    Anyone else get major de ja vu watching this as if they’ve seen the video before?

    Reply
  • September 23, 2019 at 11:41 pm
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    Not more than a club

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  • September 23, 2019 at 11:50 pm
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    It's not the academy at fault. We're still consistently producing amazing talents. The problem is the manager and board who don't trust in the academy graduates, don't give them confidence that they'll have a future here (which is why they are leaving), and keep resorting to big-money signings to appease the fans. It's not the academy, it's Barcelona.

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  • September 23, 2019 at 11:51 pm
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    Sad 😞

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  • September 24, 2019 at 12:03 am
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    Takefusa Kubo and Xavi Simmons being the latest 2 money grabbing players.

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 12:15 am
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    Great writing and narration but the animation isn't up to the usual standard – hope The Athletic aren't working you too hard!

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 12:44 am
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    What's wrong is you don't produce Messi, xavi and Iniesta in every class. Those are once in a lifetime players.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 1:19 am
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    they are ignoring foreign academy's then own like the residential one in Arizona. If some of those players got a chance in Barcelona they could be incredible

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  • September 24, 2019 at 1:33 am
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    😂😂 nothing went wrong , i love to see tourist talking on these maners 😂😂 barca just had a great generation of players (not all were form there Pique, fabregas and Jordi Alba). before that they were just like any other team with one or two players out of their cantera lol

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 3:12 am
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    nothing wrong with the academy. its natural. the next generation of talents will come but not now. just like man utd, ajax etc.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 3:37 am
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    Do a video about Real Madrid's academy "La Fabrica", please?!

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  • September 24, 2019 at 4:11 am
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    La Fabrica is much bester than La Masia!

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  • September 24, 2019 at 4:19 am
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    Has there been a video done on Chelsea's academy? 7 FA Youth Cup in 10 years and 2 time winner of the UEFA Youth League, plus it seems like there's going to be a new generation of academy products breaking through and forming the back bone of the team. Tomori, Reece James, CHO,RLC,Mount and Tammy Abraham.

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 5:07 am
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    yo Simon, double check these figures 1:56

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  • September 24, 2019 at 5:08 am
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    Barcelona is a just a business now just look at the way they binned coutinho …….it's a business

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  • September 24, 2019 at 6:43 am
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    Video on La fabrica please.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 6:45 am
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    What are your thoughts on Chelsea's academy? Abramovic has pumped millions into the youth training facilities since 2003, could this have been his long term plan for the club? They have been extremely successful in u18 competitions.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 7:10 am
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    What wen wrong is that players like Iniesta xavi Messi don't come in every generation that is all

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  • September 24, 2019 at 7:20 am
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    One word. Contrast.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 7:31 am
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    Tifo football best content on YouTube

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  • September 24, 2019 at 7:44 am
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    I just can't take this guy's accent. I have never ever heard anyone mispronounce La Masia, but this guy manages to do it. Incredible!

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  • September 24, 2019 at 7:47 am
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    Nothing wrong about La Massia. The only wrong thing is people's ridiculous expectation.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 7:49 am
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    So much hysteria from barca fans here! Lmao. If you think things are bad at Barca, try to support Manchester United or Arsenal…. 😂😂😂😂

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  • September 24, 2019 at 8:03 am
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    Great insight, thanks for the information. Another great video as always!

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 8:14 am
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    la masia is shit now

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  • September 24, 2019 at 8:25 am
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    Immense expectation and short term board vision have lead to this shambles .bring back Juan Laporta and sack valvarde.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 10:28 am
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    There’s lots of talk about whether Ole is the right man. Plz do a video on what makes a great manager. Tactics? Man management? Players believing in the manager? And ideal tenor managers should be given to prove themselves

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  • September 24, 2019 at 10:56 am
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    Barca is done when messi retires or leaves.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 10:59 am
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    Could you please make a video on the new rb Salzburg team under Jesse marsch or a player profile on erling haaland braut.
    Keep the good work up as always👍

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 11:03 am
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    It is the Board. They put minimum expectations that all of La Masia product must have a qualities of prime Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Busi, Puyol and Pique to be in Barcelona XI squad.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 11:05 am
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    nothing went wrong, it was a freak thing that xavi, busquets, iniesta, messi, pedro, puyol, pique all came along at the same time, i dont think you realise how crazy this was

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  • September 24, 2019 at 11:51 am
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    Ansu Fati must have his minutes this season

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  • September 24, 2019 at 12:46 pm
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    Some of this especially hit home. We let Cucurella go who had a fantastic season on loan just to buy Firpo, who got subbed off at half time in his first start.

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 1:13 pm
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    Just like you did with Zidane you should do a video of the struggles of Unai Emery's Arsenal

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 1:30 pm
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    Tbh tho look at there first team attack no one is getting into that

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  • September 24, 2019 at 3:29 pm
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    Weird combination of colours which creates an odd contrast made the video difficult for reading and viewing. Please look into it, I don't want to steer away from this channel.

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 5:46 pm
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    When he started taking abt agent one name particularly came in my mind *Mino Raiola*

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 5:49 pm
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    Great video, terrible songs

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 7:10 pm
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    What went wrong? Johan Cruyff became ill and died…

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  • September 24, 2019 at 9:05 pm
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    Why is everybody acting like this is the end? I’m not even a major Barca fan (BHAFC for life) but I respect them. They will be fine in the mid to long term. They have such vast money and influence that they will be perfectly fine. The academy will become better and produce better players again. It’s a cycle with football, you have a few years off, you have a few years at the top. Even the big clubs can’t win everything. No idea how Valverde is still there tho. That confuses me

    Reply
  • September 24, 2019 at 11:08 pm
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    And now we got a coach that didnt have la masia dna and hes didnt want to step down even tho hes been doing shitty job omg

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  • September 24, 2019 at 11:33 pm
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    so….money.

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  • September 24, 2019 at 11:47 pm
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    Nothing went wrong

    They got lucky with a Golden generation

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  • September 24, 2019 at 11:51 pm
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    Do a serie about the Ajax academy. What went right and what are the challenges in the future?

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  • September 25, 2019 at 2:09 am
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    Football happens in cycles !!! Today its Barcelona, Tomorrow Bayern Munich,next day its Monaco so on and so on

    Reply
  • September 25, 2019 at 2:28 am
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    Ay these videos are great but "J" in Spanish makes an H sound. It's pronounced "HU-AHN" not "JOO-ANN"

    Reply
  • September 25, 2019 at 4:58 am
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    Bartomeu has destroyed the club… He took a team that terrorised the world and instead of building an empire he keeps making it worse and worse…

    Reply
  • September 25, 2019 at 5:25 am
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    Can you do a video on Raul Sanhelli

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  • September 25, 2019 at 7:39 am
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    Very good piece

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  • September 25, 2019 at 8:05 am
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    Guardiola left the club. That’s what happened.

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  • September 25, 2019 at 12:27 pm
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    Basically Pep left.

    Reply
  • September 25, 2019 at 12:30 pm
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    6:10 "hidden agenda" lol. It's far from hidden, it's an obvious incentive for agent a 5 year old can point out.

    Reply
  • September 25, 2019 at 2:16 pm
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    I mean, they did get caught breaking the law to get kids in there. Human trafficking and lying to authorities to get children into your 'school' is kind of a big reason for the slowdown.

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  • September 25, 2019 at 4:49 pm
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    What went wrong ? Dont say shit like that !!!

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  • September 25, 2019 at 5:59 pm
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    They're a CORPORATE football club that duped everyone into thinking the Golden Generation was the Golden Millennium. Big facade. Impatient billionaires club more concerned with instant winning than patient development.

    Reply
  • September 25, 2019 at 6:18 pm
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    La Masia is still doing good, Alena, Perez, Roberto, Ansu Fati now, and more, the problem is the managers who seem to be pressured to buy outside talent, and I think that they're waking up that a 100+ mil player is NOT a guaranteed succes, Ansu makes me so exciting, more than Coutinho and Dembele, yet he didn't cost 100+ mill, I hope from now on, they'll use more of the La Masia players and also hope Guardiolo returns to link up with Barca one more time before Messi quits.

    Reply
  • September 25, 2019 at 6:24 pm
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    0:31 I must have missed the seasons when Donald Trump managed Barcelona

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  • September 25, 2019 at 6:43 pm
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    Barcelona sucks

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  • September 25, 2019 at 6:46 pm
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    Great video and well covered but lately it seems like a bunch of players are breaking through. There are real issues that you point out but the system is not totally broken.

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  • September 25, 2019 at 10:34 pm
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    Valverde out

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  • September 26, 2019 at 12:06 am
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    Sounds bizarre but a possible idea for well established football teams to get talented youth to come into their first team would be the model that America use for their American "football". College football in America is arguable more popular and exciting as their NFL. This is because there's so much at stake for these younger players as the rewards are astronomical which brings excitement to the fans as there is so much at stake as only the top 1% make it, which makes for great entertainment. These youth players also get paid next to nothing. Using a similar model in football where youth academy players in their retrospective B teams fight for success in their leagues might bring eyes to the game if there was a podium for such games to be watched and enjoyed just like premier league games are today. Obviously that would mean a huge change in perception and culture within how football is watched but it could be exciting to watch younger players who are talented play against each with a chance of breaking into a first team position at their retrospective club. Regardless if they made it or not…it could be a good way to support and encourage younger players who might sit and rot on a bench for a few seasons before being let go.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2019 at 2:41 am
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    Madrid's 4 UCL cause so much problem to La Masia. 😂😂😂😂

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  • September 26, 2019 at 4:56 am
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    Go watch Ansu fati and puigue play before making such content tifo

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  • September 26, 2019 at 11:39 am
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    You said that when Ansu Fati is breaking La Liga teams.

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  • September 26, 2019 at 2:06 pm
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    Benfica has the best academy now.

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  • September 26, 2019 at 6:02 pm
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    Joe: Can you ask Simon to double-check these figures? 1:56

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  • September 26, 2019 at 9:26 pm
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    Do Bayern's academy next. CL-winning squad had Kroos, Muller, Schweini, Lahm, Alaba. Recent years have yielded worse results.

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  • September 26, 2019 at 10:17 pm
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    credit to Ajax

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  • September 27, 2019 at 1:57 am
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    Nothing really look at ansu fati and carles perez, or even the likes of alena, cucurella, etc. However barca barely plays them, so the talent is there sitting on the bench without playing

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  • September 27, 2019 at 2:11 am
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    I don’t think this video is going to age well.

    Time will tell.

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  • September 27, 2019 at 5:10 am
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    You can honestly blame all veteran Barcelona players for ruining bringing youngsters to the starting 11 players like pique who are garbage will never lose their places due to the Barcelona veterans picking starting lineups. I love messi but you know damn well he is part of the problem! Raktic and Busquets should not be starting consistently also Suarez should be benched more he’s old and always has fitness issues every year.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2019 at 5:19 am
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    Barca hit the lotto and they figured Christmas comes once a year and they didn't bother to develop the next generation. Buying Countihno was the writing on the wall that they had given up on their philosophy to develop their own world class talent.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2019 at 7:03 am
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    can you please discuss other famous club academies?

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  • September 27, 2019 at 7:42 am
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    Even in a Tifo Football video Valverde still has no idea what he is doing 😂 5:17

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  • September 27, 2019 at 7:49 am
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    Barcelona were lucky to have Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets at the same time and promoting Guardiola to first team manager it will take a long time until something like that happens again.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2019 at 8:20 am
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    Please do a video on Chelsea academy and what the future holds for them as Lampard has taken over.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2019 at 9:44 am
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    Funny how they trash-talked various teams for signing players for ridiculous amounts of € and years later they started to destroy their own academy and doing the same thing… Times change…

    Reply
  • September 27, 2019 at 11:34 am
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    INCREDIBLE CONTENT.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2019 at 11:44 am
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    I watch these videos and feel sophisticated

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  • September 27, 2019 at 12:33 pm
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    Munir is better that other people on the squad

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  • September 27, 2019 at 1:43 pm
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    These so called loan deals by this board ruined Samper's career. Oh the irony in Rakitic's words, I still remember it. Didn't know whether to laugh or cry. It wasn't because of that but because of the so called people responsible who has been poor in running the club. Thiago, Grimaldo, Samper, recently Eric Garcia, players that should have been in the first team. Rak said they can't get in because of high quality in first team you know 😂. Suarez who has been in decline since 2016? Rak who was only good for one and half season? Players like Alex Song, Arda Turan, Andre Gomes were playing (good players but not good enough for Barcelona) but high quality you know. Lopez was sacked because he didn't get results but his team wasn't playing better either. The board wanted to show results to the Soci's so they buy various players especially Brazilians to get results quickly in the youth teams. It didn't work out. Now they're trying to get in as many past players as possible in their so called "project". Why? Because elections are coming and they need something. In fact this cancerous board is the reason why Pep left in the first place.

    Reply
  • September 27, 2019 at 2:03 pm
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    Barcelona's downfall started with Rosell being elected as president.

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  • September 27, 2019 at 2:13 pm
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    Is there documentation of Cruyff asking coaches how a team played, rather than the score? Is this evidence available anywhere?

    Reply
  • September 27, 2019 at 2:26 pm
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    English subtitle on 1:58. Internal conversations? LOL

    Reply
  • September 27, 2019 at 4:50 pm
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    That Barcelona team now literally is Messi Suarez Busquets and Pique all of which are 32 years old + they have had so many flops in recent years I cannot really remember a transfer there that made an impact since Suarez, once those 4 retire, Manchester United Spanish edition will be on…

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  • September 27, 2019 at 5:17 pm
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    We want Guardiola back please

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