Barcelona are known for nurturing young talent and have produced some of the best players in the world over the years. Players such as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquests, Xavi, and Carles Puyol grew and developed into absolute legends through the academy of Barcelona.
Now, however, not many young talents produced by La Masia are still at Barcelona or in the first team, which has received a lot of criticism. Under Enrique, Barcelona have spent a large amount of money on plenty of well-established players instead of putting their trust in the youth. In the summer of 2016, Barcelona spent 122 million euros on players, according to ESPNFC.com. They acquired Denis Suárez, Jasper Cillessen, Paco Alcácer, Lucas Digne, André Gomes and Samuel Umtiti last summer. However, they did release a lot of players in Dani Alves, Claudio Bravo, Marc Bartra, Munir El Haddadi, Sandro Ramírez, Adriano Correia, Sergi Samper, Thomas Vermaelen and Douglas Pereira. Some of the players sold were just simply not Barcelona quality, however others are one’s who could have thrived in the first team.
With the biggest two deals of the summer, Andre Gomes and Paco Alcacer (both purchased from Valencia) not impressing, one can only wonder if Sergi Samper and Munir would have had a better impact on the team. Munir was loaned to Valencia with the option to buy for 12 million euros, and Sergi Samper, who was expected to stay in the first team as a promising back up to Sergio Busquets, was loaned out to Granada. However, signings such as Samuel Umtiti and Denis Suarez are seen as the future, with some fans in favor of Umtiti starting over Mascherano at only 23 years of age. However, Lucas Digne has not been able to challenge Jordi Alba for the left back starting spot and when he does play he makes costly errors such as that in the game against Villareal. And with Rakitic not in top form, Enrique insists playing Andre Gomes next to Iniesta instead of Denis Suarez, a La Masia product, which has many scratching their heads.
Barcelona are now criticized for not giving enough opportunity to their back up players. In 2015, they sold young left back, Alejandro Grimaldo to Benfica for 1.5 million euros. Just one year later, Grimaldo is being linked with a massive 45 million move to Manchester City and Manchester United as well as garnering interest from Italian giants Juventus.
Barcelona were also openly denounced by fans for their sale of Alen Halilovic to Hamburg , who endured a successful loan spell at Sporting Gijon the year before that. As well as the sale of Gerard Deulofeu who now wheres the number 7 at Everton, Adama Traore who is impressing in the English Premier League with Middlesbrough and is now linked with move to English giants Chelsea. The one player they probably regret selling most is Hector Bellerin to Arsenal. The Spain Internation is thriving in England and is already the first choice right back for Arsenal at only 21 years of age. The player was made a priority for a move back to Barcelona due to their massive problems at the right back position after the departure of Dani Alves, but Bellerin looks to stay put in London after recently signing a new six year contract with Arsenal.
There are still many promising player in the clubs academy such as Carlos Alena, who scored a wonderful goal against Hercules away in the Copa del Rey, Wilfried Kaptoum, Lee Seung-woo, and other youngsters who have already attracted interest from other big European clubs. The question is, will Barcelona keep their young players now with star players like Messi, Suarez, and Iniesta and others starting to age?