The relationship between La Masía and the first team should be permanent, but with the expected coronavirus crisis, the academy products could be saving Barça colossal quantities of money.
The sporting benefits of using La Masía should not be questioned. It has been proven throughout Barcelona’s entire history, in which every successful team has had a hard core of homegrown products. Such talents carry the style in their veins, and thus are perfectly suited to the first team. They need zero adaptation and are ready to make an instant impact regardless of their age, thanks to the tactical concepts they have acquired. Their quality tends to be top-notch too, considering it arguably is the best academy in the world. Meanwhile, though, the years in which fans have lost most identification with their club have been those in which it has been moving away from its roots and principles. La Masía is a basic principle for the blaugranas.
In the past years, Sandro Rosell and Bartomeu’s administrations have shown no faith in La Masía regardless of such sporting arguments. There has been no trust nor conviction, with the senior minutes being invested in unnecessary signings rather than in the more-than-prepared academy graduates. Believing that Bartomeu will change his approach and beliefs in the remaining year until the 2021 presidential elections requires an act of good faith.
However, if the on-pitch reasons have not been enough to convince him, at least the economic ones could. Barcelona have the most expensive squad in Europe, with 63% of a budget of 1,047 million euros being destined exclusively to the players’ wages. With the coronavirus crisis, clubs will be forced to save money, and sales are the main way to do so. Selling footballers at Barça is not easy, since they earn more money at the Camp Nou than they would receive anywhere else. But if the Catalans want to optimise their resources, the magic formula should be to avoid or postpone the big-money signings, get rid of the deadwood, and utilise La Masía to rejuvenate and strengthen the squad.
The current board has almost literally not touched La Masía in a while now | Photo by Josep Lago / AFP via Getty Images
Youth, quality and style is what the La Masía talents can directly provide as they would bring the fresh blood the senior side is currently lacking. Apart from that, though, the economic gains would be huge too. Mostly for two reasons. Firstly, for the most obvious one: they are free. Promoting them costs nothing. Zero. Free. The board, so desperate as they usually are for cash and even free agents, should know that they have to pay nothing to use and trust the young boys. Imagine improving the squad, revitalising it, bolstering it, without need for any transfer fee. That’s one of the many intentions of La Masía.
Secondly, the players who get promoted from Barça B don’t have strict financial demands. Generally they have been at the club for years. This is their home, and this is their dream. Getting promoted and playing at the Camp Nou is what they have longed for for their entire lives. Even if in many cases their promotion is followed by a wage increase, that’s the least of matters for them. The young La Masía prospects, while they deserve a big reward, always tend to be the ones who earn the least in the squad.
By making a proper use of the academy gems, Barcelona would not only save a transfer fee, but save massive wages too. It is not easy letting go the likes of Rakitić, Vidal, Umtiti or Coutinho, as they are on huge salaries and few, or no, clubs can pay such amounts of money. But if they manage to sell them for a reasonable cost and replace them with Riqui Puig, Collado, Monchu, Araújo, and many more, Barça will have saved an enormous quantity of money and will be closer to avoiding a financial disaster. Trusting La Masía should be a matter of sporting belief, but even just the economic arguments should be enough to convince the directives that this is the perfect time to exploit all its advantages.
Barcelona B vs Valladolid Promesas: Match preview – First step towards promotion
Everything you need to know ahead of the match between Barcelona B and Valladolid Promeses at Malaga
As Barcelona B face Valladolid Promesas at Estadi Ciudad de Malaga, we take a look at the very crucial match-up in this match preview.
Date and kick-off time: Sunday 19 July 2020, 20:00 CET
Stadium: Estadio Ciudad de Málaga
Competition: Segunda División B play-offs for promotion to Segunda, first round
For a team like Barcelona, for whom youth development is one of the core philosophies, the Barcelona B team’s results are highly important as well. After getting relegated to Segunda B, Barcelona B started another quest to get promotion to the Segunda division. After a hard-fought season at Segunda B, the B team under the superb guidance of García Pimienta, has reached the playoffs. These playoffs are the stepping stones towards the Segunda. This is a very important match for the Blaugrana youngsters as they face Valladolid’s B team, the Valladolid Promesas and in this preview, we’ll take a look at this match-up.
Due to the unfortunate pandemic this year, the playoffs have had a few changes made to them. The qualifying criteria are still the same. The top four teams of each B league are drawn into the playoffs. From here, the usual final between the two winners to decide the overall Segunda B winners was removed. Instead, the losing semi-finalists will enter the play-off round for the remaining two promotion spots.
The four group runners-up will be drawn against one of the three fourth-placed teams outside their group. Whereas the four third-placed teams will be drawn against each other in a single game matchup. The six winners will advance along with the two losing semi-finalists to determine the four teams that play for the last two promotion spots.
Basically, the Barcelona B team will need to do their best in the next three rounds to gain promotion.
For Barcelona B, this match-up has gotten tougher than expected. Firstly, Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig and Ronald Araújo won’t be allowed to play in the playoffs. Barcelona coach Quique Setién clarified this in a recent press conference.
Barça B will have many key absences in the playoffs | Photo by Aflosport via Imago
The fact that some of the strongest players that Barcelona B had throughout the season along with Ansu Fati, who made the jump to the first team from Juvenil A, won’t be present to help them win promotion is a major setback. Along with this, Álex Collado won’t be able to play as he recently suffered an injury. For Valladoid, this is a major advantage. The reason for their absence was specified so as to not avoid any complications in the Champions League.
“I would have liked the circumstances to be different, I’m sorry but it will not be possible for them to play with the B team”
Players such as Kike Saverio, Guillem Jaime, Chumi, and Hiroki Abe who were important parts of the team won’t be able to play as well due to their contracts not being renewed. This should mean that we see a lot of Juvenil A players get a chance to play. Especially since 9 of them have been announced in the squad.
The silver lining
Many people are of the opinion that since getting promotion to Segunda would mean that our La Masía players get more playtime at a better level next season. This is a very valid argument. The fact that Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig, and Ronald Araújo have still been restricted from going for the play-offs is quite controversial. But there is a silver lining.
With their absence and the many expired contracts, we see that 9 Juvenil A keepers have been called up. These players will get an opportunity to play for the B team in an important match, which will definitely help them as they rarely get to play at a match this important. Players such as Monchu, Ilaix, Jandro will get to prove that they are capable of filling up the massive personalities that Puig and Collado provided. It’s a good chance for them to display their abilities. For players like Konrad, Peque, Nico it’s a good chance to show that regardless of the result, the B team will be in safe hands next season.
And if they do get promoted, it would be a major boost for all the La Masia graduates looking at their seniors and looking up at the players who made it into the first team from La Masia. The players at Barcelona B would next season have an excellent opportunity to develop in the Segunda against the more experienced teams.
Winning this match would of course be an achievement for Pimienta. But if he were to win the playoffs in such difficult circumstances, Pimienta’s status as an excellent manager and a youth-development expert would only be solidified even more. This should make him a real contender, and not a plan B, in case Setien has to leave Barcelona in the near future. Pimienta definitely deserves it and this would be a great opportunity for him to show that he is ready.
Barcelona B face a very challenging match-up now. It certainly is a daunting challenge. Even though they don’t have the services of many of their players, they still have their greatest weapon in Garcia Pimienta. He is more capable than almost anyone to lead this group of youngsters with whom he has worked closely for such a long time.
Pimi, along with his players are a capable team. This match however, is much more than just a win-lose moment. Winning this match would signify that another generation of promising players such as Alena, Puig, Miranda, Oriol is coming through. Not only this, but it would provide the juniors, especially the Juvenil A and Juvenil B with hope that there is a way to get close to the first team and that the Barcelona B team is still a capable force that they should strive towards aiming for. The match against Valladolid Promeses is important not just for Barcelona B but for La Masia itself.