This week, Barcelona finally signed Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool for a club record fee of £142 million.
The 25-year-old attacking midfielder signed a five and a half year contract and he has been given the famous number 14 shirt, which was previously worn by the great Johan Cruyff.
It is believed that Brazilian has been signed to be the successor to Andres Iniesta who is unfortunately not getting any younger.
From the naked eye, Coutinho will be regarded as the perfect successor to Iniesta, due to their similar style of play and Coutinho’s eye for goal is arguably better than that of Iniesta’s.
Without doubt, the Brazilian is an extremely talented player who will flourish in La Liga and will likely go on to become one of Barcelona’s key players; however he is not like Iniesta: the Barcelona philosophy is not instilled in him, like it is with Iniesta due to the fact that the former Inter Milan man, did not come through La Masia.
In 2012 Pep Guardiola made history by fielding an XI of players that all came through the youth ranks.
Shortly after Guardiola said, “The player who has come through La Masia has something different from the rest, it’s a plus that only comes from having competed in a Barcelona shirt from the time you were a child.”
He was certainly talking sense, after all: Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and of course the great Lionel Messi was not only the foundations of Guardiola’s side that swept aside Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side at Wembley to win the Champions League in 2011; they were all pupils at La Masia at some point in their career.
In the wake of the Coutinho transfer, Barcelona Boss Ernesto Valverde insisted that “We (Barcelona) always try to look at the academy” and that “We want to bring players up (to the first team) based on their style of play and their development” yet the signings of Ousmane Dembele in the summer and Philippe Coutinho surely highlights the fact that there is less trust in La Masia and the whole philosophy as a whole.