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Barcelona have the fourth most expensive squad in football, which is good and bad

Money brought titles, but how about the academy?

FC Barcelona - Training & Press Conference Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images

Barcelona is a very rich club. We all know that. It's one of the reasons why it's such a huge entity in football, and the club's ability to constantly generate revenue and be one of the richest organizations in all of sports is a testament to the size of this institution.

As a gigantic club, Barça attract gigantic players, and sometimes they have to pay a lot for them. Over the last few years, especially, the Catalans have spent huge amounts to assemble a very good squad. As we've discussed a lot in the previous weeks, this is perhaps the deepest, strongest group of players in the history of the club, and after the new signings adapt to the system, we might be looking at a frighteningly good football team.

In order to form that very deep very good very strong squad, though, Barça have spent a lot. A lot a lot.

Europe's most expensive squads according to the CIES Football Observatory

The latest issue of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post ranks the Blaugrana as the fourth most expensive squad in European football today. Only Manchester United, Real Madrid and Manchester City have spent (way more) to assemble their current squads, which is good news for Barça.

It's undeniable that no team has been more successful than the Catalan giants over the last half-decade, and they did it by spending a lot less than the three clubs above them. Barça's domestic and continental success in the last five years is a clear sign that while they have thrown some heavy money on players, their investments paid off in a huge way. To be fair, Madrid have won two Champions League trophies, but that's basically it. City have been good domestically, but are yet to make any meaningful impact in Europe. And Man United are a laughing stock, spending a hilarious amount of money and winning absolutely nothing other than the FA Cup since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.

There is something bad to take away from this numbers, though. The increased amount of money spent on signing players means a decreased level of attention to La Masia, which has been the best youth system on Earth in the last 20-30 years. Most of the best players in Barça history have all come from the academy, but not only have first team promotions been down recently, none of the academy graduates seem special enough to become a club legend. A lot of the most promising ones have been sent away on loans or sales with buy-back clauses that won't be exercised, and they will never have a real chance to prove their worth.

While the fact we bought five 23-year-olds this summer is exciting because we're planning for the future, we could also have been planning for the future with academy products. There are some incredible players growing right now in La Masia, but will they have any chances of becoming first team regulars/stars/superstars if we continue to be a top-four spending club year after year? What if we become the top spending club? Where do the products go?

So the good news is we don't have to spend as much as the Manchester clubs and Madrid to be successful; the bad news is we're still spending enough to divert attention away from the thing that is a source of pride for us. As long as the good outweighs the bad, we're all happy. That will change in the future, though, and once it does, we're in trouble. Big trouble.

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