The youth academy of Barcelona, which is also widely known as La Masia, is one of the best youth academies around the world. Within the last decades, this academy brought out a lot of great talents like Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Tito Vilanova, Cesc Fàbregas and Pep Guardiola. The basic idea is simple. As the players learn the basic principles of Barcelona day in and day out, making it easier for them to settle in when they get promoted to the senior squad. The most recent example is Ansu Fati, who made his debut for the first team in this season at the age of 16. It seemed easy for him to integrate himself into the team as he has known the tactics and principles from the youth teams.
However, nobody can doubt that the importance of money in football has gotten getting bigger and bigger in the last decades, maybe even more so in recent years. Nowadays, also a club like Barcelona isn’t able to build their team mainly out of own youth players, then compete for the domestic championship and fight for the UEFA Champions League. Due to that, Barcelona have to supplement the squad with more and more players bought from other clubs for a lot of money.
This trend is visualised in the following graph as I used data analysis to show the important statistics. It shows us the development of the number of youth products and bought players in Barcelona’s team over the last 10 seasons. Also, I only counted players with at least 500 minutes in La Liga to really focus on those players who play a central role.
We can see that between the seasons 2010/11 and 2014/15 the majority of the team consisted of players from their own youth academy. However, while the number of players from their own academy decreased, the number of external players logically rose as the team needed always enough players. Within the last seasons, Barcelona was more active on the transfer market than ever and which is apparent in the numbers since, currently, the number of external players with at least 500 minutes in La Liga almost doubled relative to the 2012/13 season.
You can’t pick out one reason to explain this development which we saw in this short data analysis since there are several factors influencing this development. Maybe, it is time for Barca to give more minute to young players like Riqui Puig or Marc Cucurella, offering them the chance to prove themselves in the first team. They should think twice about it before they sell players like Carles Pérez.