FC Barcelona has a very high carbon footprint.
The number of players opting to leave La Masia seems to be on the rise—this week alone, Barcelona looks set to lose Eric Garcia and Mateu Morey to Manchester City and Bayern Munich respectively. It’s not as much an issue with the club as it is with the mindset of the people running it. When you have people with expensive tastes at the helm, there is always the inevitability of incorporating poor habits into the system—in a need to match the rising status of the club with personnel, Barcelona has diverted its attention to the market. What is available for free, no longer seems to be enough, and the grass always looks greener on the other side.
Barcelona has resorted to consumerism like the rest of the world while losing its consciousness and ability to evaluate circumstances effectively in the process. Like the rest of the world, Barcelona has ended up with an incredibly high wastage rate—there are tens of La Masia graduates playing for some of Europe’s top teams in spite of failing to garner the attention they deserve in Catalonia; this confirms the quality and quantity of the farmhouse id est La Masia.
So what does Barça need to fix their problem? Exactly what the rest of the world is doing—Recycle! It’s easy, cost-effective, and will fix a lot of the issues that the club is currently facing. By repurposing the academy using some quick fixes, Barça can bounce right back on top of the food chain of football.
The first step in fixing a broken system like Barça’s is learning how to reduce buying expensive back-ups from the market.
Barcelona is spending millions of euros on players with no future like Vermaelen and Douglas while ignoring those already in the fold. The likes of Lucas Digne, André Gomes and Paco Alcacer were independently good buys, but one look at the academy back then would have exposed how redundant their purchases were. The number of prospects waiting in line to represent the club is high and allowing someone from the outside to cut-in is only going to result in discontentment.
If Barça can manage its resources in the transfer market more effectively, we could be looking at a diverse and flexible squad that competes to win.
Back in the day, if you were the crème de la crème amongst your peers and were old enough to shop in the men’s section, you were game for some first-team minutes; it wouldn’t be long before you’d get a promotion, and all would be well in the world. However, that isn’t the case anymore—players can rot in the B team for a handful of years before being deemed too old to make an impact. If age is the issue, promote them while they’re young—if it’s not, don’t use it as an excuse.
There are a plethora of hungry, talented individuals bleeding Blaugrana and waiting for a chance to show their worth on the grandest stages.
Importing foreign talent doesn’t just dishearten players but also dims the light at the end of the tunnel.
We need our prospects, and we need them to believe in a future at FC Barcelona. In order to make that happen, we need to begin reusing the academy for back-ups and replacements.
Sometimes, talent is wasted—sometimes, it’s a matter of using it creatively.
Sergi Roberto was a washed-up 24-year-old midfielder who was always going to be remembered as the guy left behind in the aftermath of the “Thiago Saga”. Permanency in football, however, is almost always temporary. While Sergi Roberto still lives in the shadow of his talented peer for some, things have drastically changed for the player himself. Roberto has rewritten his history like few could have with his stoppage-time goal against Paris Saint-Germain; he has already lived his legend.
Having carved a niche for himself as one of the most versatile footballers on the planet, the Spaniard has rejuvenated his career and become a surprisingly crucial cog in the Barcelona machine. He is the embodiment of everything that is La Masia.
Finding a role that best suits a player’s abilities is important—putting the right player in the right zone will invariably produce the right results.
If the club intends to utilise it’s academy effectively, it needs to help groom players from an early stage. The process does require micro-management on multiple levels but will pay dividends in the future—if we do things just right, we could finally restore some balance into the club’s ecosystem again.