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Five La Masia stars expected to breakout at Barcelona soon: A bird’s-eye view



Photo via JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Alejandro Balde and Gavi represent the creme-de-la-creme of an outrageously talented set of young stars blossoming at La Masia. The famed youth academy may have endured a rough period in between, but it is now well and truly back with some generational talents.

The Algarve Youth Cup is an international tournament scheduled to be held in April that will see the youth teams of some of Europe’s top footballing nations compete for glory.

The Spanish Under-17 outfit head into the tournament as one of the favorites and must get the better of Germany, The Netherlands, and Portugal to claim the bragging rights. Interestingly, La Rojita won the tournament in 2022 and 2020 and are looking for their third successive triumph at the event.

Unsurprisingly, La Masia has a significant contingent travelling next month to represent the Spanish outfit. Five players from the academy have been called up for the tournament, and Barça Universal presents a brief overview of the selected prodigies.

1. Hector Fort

The 16-year-old right-back is one of La Masia’s most promising defenders who has won the U-14, U-15, and U-16 Championships with FC Barcelona’s youth setup. He is often compared to Cesar Azpilicueta for his versatile style of play.

Fort predominantly plays as a right-back but is capable of playing in central defence too. His excellent ball-playing qualities make him a strong playmaking option on the field who can comfortably play out of complicated positions.

Gifted with an astute understanding of positioning, passing, and coordination, he makes for an ideal defender in a positional and possession-based setup like the Spanish National Team. Further, he is adept at maintaining a high defensive line with composure and good recovery.

2. Lamine Yamal

Yamal is already training with the seniors. (Photo via AS)

Lamine Yamal is undoubtedly the most hyped player on the list, and rightly so. The 15-year-old star has already caught Xavi Hernandez’s eye as a dynamic forward and could be involved with Barcelona’s senior team as early as the coming preseason.

The left-footed Spaniard can play as an attacking midfielder, winger, or second striker, although the former is his preferred position. Yamal possesses a strong palette of talents of which his pace, dribbling, vision, and understanding of the game make him a serious threat in the final third. He is deadly in 1v1 situations and plays as an aggressive vertical player.

At just 15 years of age, Yamal already has five appearances with Barcelona’s U-19 setup in the UEFA Youth League and will look to set the stage on fire when he travels next month with La Rojita.

3. Pau Prim

At just 16 years of age, Pau Prim promises to be one of the academy’s best defensive midfielders with a unique ability to play with both feet. As required by a traditional Barcelona pivot, the teenager has phenomenal control of the ball, a deep understanding of positioning and an accurate pass.

There is an aspect of his game that Prim needs to work on, i.e his physical presence in duels and ability to hold down the fortress on counters. At 16 years of age and with a long future ahead of him, he has all the time in the world to correct his minor shortcomings.

Pau Prim is one of the future. (Photo via Mundo Deportivo)

The defensive midfielder is a real asset in the team’s buildup and could contribute a lot to his National team setup as an orchestrator. Further, his ability to control the tempo of the game shows maturity beyond his years, as does his vocal leadership on the field.

4. Pau Cubarsi

Pau Cubarsi is one of the few promising centre-back talents at La Masia, and his profile becomes further interesting when one considers the rarity with which the famed academy produces prodigies in central defence.

His strong physique and seamless ability to pressurise opposition forwards makes him a daunting presence in his own area.

As opposed to his counterparts, Cubarsi hesitates to commit himself to a forced defensive action and prefers to stay on his feet as opposed to sliding his way into the opponent’s path.

The 15-year-old has already made his debut for the Catalan U-18 side in the UEFA Youth League and played 78 minutes in the competition. The opportunity to play for the Spanish U-17 outfit presents him with a great chance of accelerating his ascent and demanding a more regular role in the senior ranks at Barcelona.

5. Marc Guiu

At 17 years of age, Marc Guiu is the oldest of all the Masia players called up for next month’s tournament and arguably the least known. The Juvenil A player employs his services predominantly as a centre-forward, albeit capable of playing on the wing too.

In four appearances in the UEFA Youth League this season, Guiu has found the back of the net once. He has, however, not been a regular starter for the team and has played only 115 minutes across the four appearances and started just one game.

Guiu is expected to start on the bench for the Spanish set-up in the upcoming event. However, with this being his last appearance with the U-17 side, owing to his age, he will be under pressure to prove his calibre and climb onto the next rung.

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