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Ranking all 15 La Masia talents that made their Barcelona debut under Xavi

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Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

La Masia has been churning out absolute world-class talent since forever, with the 2000s truly producing some of the biggest name the sport has ever seen, including Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and so many more.

This current batch of youngsters are not half-bad, either. The likes of Lamine Yamal, Alejandro Balde, Gavi, Pau Cubarsi, and others have already taken centre-stage this season, and are contesting at the highest level in Europe, too.

While their talent is undeniable, a large part of the credit has to be given to Xavi who has not shied away from trusting the club’s academy in time of need, and choosing meritocracy over reputation.

So far, 15 La Masia youngsters have made their debut under Xavi, and the list could soon grow to 16 soon, with Mikayil Faye in line to play in the near future.

Barça Universal ranks these 15 debutants based on how they have fared since been given their first minutes on the pitch by the Spanish manager, and of course, on their ability and profile.

1. Lamine Yamal – Right-winger

No doubts about that. At 16, what Lamine Yamal has done this season is truly ridiculous. He has not only broken through the Barcelona first-team, but also seamlessly taken over the right-wing spot.

Not only is he truly one of the most talented players to ever graduate from La Maia, but he has also ten direct goal contributions to go with all the other impact he makes on the pitch. Truly generational.

2. Pau Cubarsi – Centre-back

The man of the hour, and one of the leading reasons behind Barcelona’s changed fortunes, Pau Cubarsi is the ice man. He is inarguably the most exciting centre-back to graduate from La Masia since Gerard Pique.

pau cubarsi
Defensive prodigy. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

While he has all the traits of a proper defender, as someone with pace, positioning, and anticipation, his passing ability has stood out head and shoulders above everyone in Europe.

3. Chadi Riad – Centre-back

An interesting inclusion in the list, especially since he is no longer at Barcelona, but Chadi Riad has done exceedingly well at Real Betis this season. So much so that the Catalans want to buy him back in the summer to sell him again for a profit.

Being a left-footed CB, Riad’s profile is highly-coveted in the market, which goes very well with his superb passing ability and front-foot defending.

4. Fermin Lopez – Midfielder

Fermin Lopez had sold dreams to Barcelona fans during the pre-season tour last year with his goal against Real Madrid. That was only sign of things to come for the Spaniard, who has been something of special profile in this Catalan midfield

As an aggressive advanced midfielder, Fermin does not shy away from taking a shot at goal from range, and his movement in the box is rather striker-esque, as well. He also has raw pace, intensity, and can play three to four different roles.

Unfortunately he has been competing with the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, and Gavi, which has limited his chances, but that does not take anything away from his talent.

5. Marc Guiu – Striker

A truly unicorn profile, especially for La Masia, Marc Guiu is an athletic centre-forward who stands at nearly 6’2″. He is quite the poacher in the box, and has an absolutely bizarre leap in him, too.

The Spaniard came into the limelight with the winner he scored vs Athletic Club – on his debut -, and has been a regular part of the first-team setup since then, competing with Vitor Roque as Robert Lewandowski’s backup.

marc guiu
Dream debut. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

6. Mika Marmol – Centre-back

Currently at Las Palmas under Garcia Pimienta, Marmol has a mammoth six clean sheets in the league this season. He is huge part of the reason why the Canaries are flirting with the top-half of the table.

Also as a left-footed centre-back, Marmol has a Pau Torres, Aymeric Laporte-esque calm profile but is not as good a defender as Chadi Riad, which takes him down a spot or two in this list.

7. Ferran Jutgla – Striker

While technically not a La Masia graduate, Barcelona do count Ferran Jutgla as one of their own because he was signed for the reserve team, and spent his time shuffling between the senior side and Atletic.

At Club Brugge right now, Jutgla had an impressive breakthrough season in Belgium, scoring 13 goals and giving five assists in 34 games.

8. Hector Fort – Right-back

A right-back by trade, Hector Fort has filled in as a left-back more often this season, and done a superb job at it, too.

His performance vs Atletico Madrid in the 0-3 win was something to behold, and his comfort in both roles as a technically sound, level-headed fullback make him one Barcelona would want to retain for the future.

9. Ilias Akhomach – Right-winger

Ilias Akhomach was one of the first La Masia players to debut under Xavi after he took over the team from Ronald Koeman in 2021. The Spaniard was considered a talented right-winger who could mark an era at the club but ended up joining Villarreal in 2023.

He has had a decent season so far with the Yellow Submarines, playing 23 games but scoring just one goal. Unfortunately, that was against Barcelona in the 3-5 defeat that was followed up by Xavi’s resignation.

10. Marc Casado – Midfielder

marc casado
Waiting for his big break. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Captaining Barcelona Atletic this season, Casado has been flirting with a first-team breakthrough for a while now. He has played just four games for the club, but is highly hailed among the coaches, including Xavi.

While his favorite position is as a single pivot, Casado can also play as a right-back. The Sergi Roberto-mould, but much cleaner in terms of ball-manipulation.

11. Estanis Pedrola – Left-winger

Standing at nearly 6’1″, Estanis Pedrola’s profile was rather unique, too, as a winger. He only played just the one game at the club, and moved to Sampdoria in the summer.

His tenure with Andrea Pirlo’s side started well with three goals in ten games, before a hamstring injury sidelined him for nearly six months.

12. Inaki Pena – Goalkeeper

While Inaki Pena has probably been with the first team a lot longer than anyone else, his profile and performances have rather underwhelming. He filled in for Marc-Andre ter Stegen this season, but had a lot of rough games, and made several mistakes.

At 6ft, the Spaniard is not particularly tall, nor is he an exceptional passer of the ball. Barcelona should consider going into the market for a new backup, or promoting someone else.

13. Angel Alarcon – Left-winger

Alarcon broke through the Barcelona first-team at the same time as Ilias Akhomach, during an injury crisis in attack. He played four games last season but has only been called up once all campaign this time around.

14. Aleix Garrido – Midfielder

Now 20, Aleix Garrido was a regular fixture on the bench last season but has disappeared from the scene completely this time around. He did get to make his debut though, playing ten minutes against Elche, and was rated very highly by Xavi, as well.

15. Alvaro Sanz – Midfielder

Alvaro Sanz only got his chance with the senior side as a 21-year-old, making him the oldest debutant in this list.

He had a few decent games for the club but ended up leaving to join Mirandes in the second division in the summer, where he has become a regular starter.

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