Team Spotlight: Barcelona B and its path to stardomJanuary 22, 2018
In the past six months, Barcelona have spent over £100m each on two attackers, flexing their financial muscle as they go in search of regaining the La Liga title and winning their first Champions League trophy in three years.
Yet, it was not too long ago that all 11 players on the pitch had come through the ranks at the club, including their greatest youth product, Lionel Messi.
La Masia has been hailed across the globe as producing the best young talent, with the boarding school-like academy drilling into children the ‘Barca way’ along with educational studies.
Once you have come through the Juvenil teams, the next stop is the B team, where the likes of José Arnaiz and Carles Aleñá are currently impressing.
Journey via B team
On 25th November 2012, Barcelona were playing away at Levante, but just 14 minutes in, Brazilian right-back Dani Alves was injured and had to be replaced. The man who came on was Martin Montoya, who filled into an XI that had all started at La Masia.
Among those on the field at Estadi Ciutat de València was Messi, now Barca’s record goal-scorer; Carles Puyol, the Catalan outfit’s long-time shaggy-haired captain; and the club’s record appearance-maker, Xavi.
Three of those players left to make a name for themselves elsewhere, but most made the journey from the La Masia academy through to the B team to the senior side, with the reserve team providing a welcomed introduction into the life of playing against people significantly older than them.
It is no surprise that during that period, under the tutelage of former academy product Pep Guardiola, they won 14 titles, including three La Liga trophies and triumphed twice in the Champions League.
Is the future bright?
As in the past, there are still players starting their professional careers in the Barcelona B squad, who currently ply their trade in the Segunda Division, and are already on the fringes of the first team.
Aleñá, likened to Andres Iniesta, and left-winger Arnaiz have both impressed in the reserve outfit in the last couple of seasons, both making their debuts for the senior side in 2017.
Yet, with Barcelona’s recent and expensive acquisitions of 20-year-old Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho, 25, the progress of the next wave of young talent coming off the Barca B conveyor belt could be stunted and reduced to squad player roles.
Only time will tell whether Barcelona B can produce youngsters of the quality and quantity as they did for that side in 2012.