Barcelona: The Future is Young

While many viewed Tito Vilanova as an assistant coach and a person who did not have the abilities to lead Barcelona after Pep Guardiola left the club, he was in fact working behind the scenes to add the missing link to Barcelona. He may be gone and away from his job now, but the plan he set for the Cantera back in 2012 seems to be flourishing today.

Despite the background they all share, Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique and Tito Vilanova are three different personalities and they have their own mentalities and playing systems. Since Vilanova took the helms at Barcelona he wanted to diverge away from the system Guardiola has set by signing a pure striker, something also Luis Enrique did at Roma by signing Pablo Daniel Osvaldo. There are a few possibilities for the Catalan club including Fernando Llorente, Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao but the club were not ready to spend big and take a risk like the one they took on Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Falcao and Llorente were two of Barcelona’s targets

Barcelona are one of the two teams who boast the most number of homegrown players, 17, in their ranks with the other side being Athletic Bilbao who strictly sign players from the Basque Country. Despite big signing players like Neymar, Ibrahimovic, Cesc Fabregas and others, Barcelona have spent 78% on transfers less than what Real Madrid spent in the past since Pep Guardiola was appointed as a head coach yet it was Barcelona who managed to lift a Champions League trophy twice while Madrid failed to even reach a single final. This reflects Barcelona’s reliance on its own academy, ‘La Masia’ rather than investing money on world class players.

Trophies won by Real Madrid and Barcelona since Pep Guardiola was appointed as head coach till September 2013

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Clearly in these past five seasons the Catalan club has been performing better ever since the introduction of players like Pedro Rodriguez and Sergio Busquets as well as the tiki taka football. Thus, Barcelona sticking to the products of their own academy and style of football is only logical to do. However, ever since the departure of Samuel Eto’o there has been a missing player up front as Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a troubled relationship with the coach while David Villa was often injured.

Players remaining from season 2008-2009

 

Real Madrid

Barcelona

1.

Iker Casillas

Victor Valdes

2.

Pepe Ferreira

Dani Alves

3.

Sergio Ramos

Gerard Pique

4.

Marcelo Vieira

Carles Puyol

5.

Xavi Hernandez

6.

Andres Iniesta

7.

Lionel Messi

8.

Sergio Busquets

9.

Pedro Rodriguez

10.

Marc Bartra

Clearly from the above table we can see that Barcelona have up to nine players who were present five seasons ago reflecting the team’s stability while Real Madrid only have four players of whom only one player came up through the club’s youth teams, Iker Casillas. On the other hand, Barcelona have nine players out of the ten from their youth teams with Dani Alves being the only exception.

Tito decided to resort to La Masia, the home for Barcelona’s youth players who live and grow up in the residence under the supervision of the club’s staff. Known for their focus on technique and low ground football, Barcelona make their youth teams play in the same way as their seniors do and Vilanova decided to integrate a number ‘9’ in Barcelona ‘B’ in hopes of that player growing to fit into the system that will eventually evolve at Barcelona.

Gerardo Martino took over the reins at Barcelona and he as well would like to have a number ‘9’ in his squad but he chose not to dip in the transfer market since Barcelona had already signed Neymar from Santos. Martino is closely monitoring Barcelona B to search for the player who will stand out among a group of players who have immense talent and knowledge of tiki-taka football. Despite the presence of Lionel Mesis, Neymar, Alexis Sanchez, Pedro Rodriguez and even Cristian Tello, Tata feels like he wants that player who can have the element of surprise and unlock the game when the opposition parks the bus and defends deep. So Who could that person be?

Currently at Barcelona B, playing in La Liga Adelante, the second division in Spanish football, are three of the most promising home grown number ‘9’s the club has. The most likely player to break into the first team is dubbed as the next Samuel Eto’o, Jean Marie Dongou. A Cameroonian striker, he is quite mobile and can make the use of narrow spaces. He has been called up to his country’s senior national team but he is yet to feature. However, he was part of Barcelona’s senior team during pre-season and Martino seems to be impressed by him.

Tonny Sanabria, David Babunski and Jean Marie Dongou – Three of Barcelona’s upcoming young players

Sandro Ramirez is another player who Barcelona B have at their disposal up front, he was doing really well in the younger levels but a serious knee injury halted his progression, though, he overcame it quickly and was part of Spain’s U-19 national team.

Tonny Sanabria, a Paraguayan 17-year-old, has already had his senior debut with his country’s national team against Germany while he also played against Messi’s Argentina. He is one of the youngest players in Barcelona B and has the ability to shoot with both legs, if he is integrated properly into the team he could prove to be an asset for the club.

Aside from the attack, Macedonian international David Babunski is also playing at Barcelona ‘B’, the attacker is regarded as his country’s future captain and hero. Despite being only nineteen he showed that he is far better than many of his international team-mates and he is destined to break into Barcelona’s first team soon.

Atletico Madrid’s three U-19 players are Barcelona targets

In addition, inside sources are claiming that Barcelona are looking to trust Martin Montoya as their starting right back as soon as next season as they hope to cash out on Dani Alves while he still has a few years left in him in order to generate money from his sale. However, not all youngsters will be from the club’s own academy; the sale of David Villa to Atletico Madrid for a substantially low figure had a few benefits for Barcelona in it. They have earned themselves ‘a priority right’ to sign any of Javier Manquillo and Saul Ñiguez (who is currently on loan at Rayo Vallecano), the two players were targeted by Tito Vilanova last term and the club continued with his plan despite his departure. Barcelona can match any offer made by another club for any of the two players and be able to have the right to snatch him from the other bidding team. Oliver Torres was supposed to be the heir to Xavi’s throne at Barcelona but the club were not able to get themselves and option to sign the player.

A similar deal has been done with Santos after the signing of Neymar regarding a few young players (Victor Andrade, Givanildo Da Silva and Gabriel Almeida who is known as ‘Gabigol’. Things do not stop there for Barca, they have two of the best youngsters currently out on loan Gerard Deulofeu at Everton under manager Roberto Martinez and Rafinha Alcantara (Thiago’s brother) at Celta Vigo under the guidance of Luis Enrique. The two have all the reasons to return even stronger to their home club.

Barcelona seem to be definitely investing wisely with a precise plan and the sale of David Villa for a low sum has had its benefits and the same can be said for the signing of Neymar for a big figure. We are certain to see an ongoing flow of talent at the Camp Nou and if any of the players decides to leave it will certainly generate money for his club and Thiago Alcantara who left for Bayern Munich is the best example. President Sandro Rosell once said:” We are not running a football team but a football business.” Under his guidance Barcelona are on the right track financially and sportingly.

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