|La Masia de Can Planes|
Main façade of La Masia
|Alternative names||La Masia|
|Town or city||Barcelona, Catalonia|
|Design and construction|
La Masia de Can Planes, usually shortened to La Masia, (Catalan pronunciation: [ɫə məˈzi.ə], English: "The Farmhouse"), is the name given to FC Barcelona's training facilities, originally located near the Camp Nou in the Les Corts district of Barcelona, and is often used to generically describe the youth academy of Barcelona.
The youth academy of Barcelona holds more than 300 young players, and has been praised since 2002 as one of the best in the world, being a significant factor in FC Barcelona's European success as well as the Spanish national team's success at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In 2010, la Masia achieved a record breaking honour becoming the first youth academy to have trained all three finalists for the Ballon d'Or in one same year, with Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernández.
The original building itself was an ancient country residence (In Catalan: masia) built in 1702, and once Camp Nou was inaugurated in 1957, the building was remodelled and extended for use as the club's social headquarters. With the gradual expansion of the club, the building became too small for headquarters, and, on 20 October 1979, La Masia was converted into a dormitory for young players from outside of Barcelona. On June, 30, 2011 the Masia building ceased housing the young sportsmen who are trained to become a part of the Club’s professional teams. In a simple ceremony, the doors were closed and the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper took over the function of the residential center for the youngsters.
La Masia de Can Planes was an old Catalan farmhouse, built in 1702. In 1979 it was first used by the club to house its young footballers who originated from outside of Barcelona. The idea for the youth academy was proposed to Núñez by Johan Cruyff, a former player who was a youth-product from the Ajax Academy. Núñez installed Oriol Tort as director.
One of the first graduates of the academy was the midfielder Guillermo Amor, who débuted in 1988. Amor went on to play 311 La Liga matches for the first team. Two years later, he was followed by goalkeeper Carles Busquets and midfielder Pep Guardiola. All three made their first team début under Cruyff, who was made manager of the first team in 1988. The team played to Cruyff's tiki-taka philosophy, derived from total football, which has often been attributed as a key component in Barcelona's later success and international appeal. Guardiola matured into a total-football midfielder, and became a source of inspiration for later midfielders from La Masia, such as Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta and Cesc Fàbregas. Xavi, who was Guardiola's understudy for three years, said in 2010 that he once considered transferring abroad because of the pressure and high expectations placed on him to fill Guardiola's role in the midfield.
Guardiola was appointed the new coach of FC Barcelona B in May 2007. At that time, the team was in organisational disarray as it entered the fourth tier of Spanish football. The relegation of the B team was a cause in the disbanding of FC Barcelona C, which played in that league. In Guardiola's re-organisation of the reserve side, he made places available in Barcelona B to players above the age of 21; his aim was to increase competition within the team and help it advance into a more competitive league. He divided the players into two categories: "pearls", which was composed of the young players, and the "backbone", which was mostly composed of those who were more mature. The "backbone players" were between 21 and 26 years old and they stayed in the B team for a maximum of two years before being sold. Guardiola said the two-year duration was to allow for room to constantly develop youth players.
La Masia received more publicity after Barcelona B's success with homegrown players; Rory Smith reported in The Daily Telegraph that La Masia "has replaced the fabled Ajax Academy as football's foremost production line." The recent fame and success of La Masia as a talent school was ascribed by Ian Hawkey of The Times to the class of 1987, which featured prominent members as Cesc Fàbregas, Lionel Messi, Gerard Piqué and Pedro Rodríguez. In 2000, Louis van Gaal, coach of FC Barcelona's first team, was widely ridiculed by the city sports media for his dream to win the Champions League with 11 home-grown players. The first team won the trophy in 2009 with eight home-grown players.
In the 30 years since La Masia's inauguration, more than 500 youngsters have left their homes and families to stay at the academy. About half of them were from Catalonia, and the rest came from other regions of the Kingdom of Spain and beyond, including 15 from Cameroon, 7 from Brazil, 5 from Senegal and 3 from Argentina. Of those 500, about 10 percent made it into the first team.
La Masia houses about 60 players: 10 in the farmhouse, and the rest in rooms of the adjacent stadium; the rest of the youth players must provide for their own accommodation. The academy is one of the most expensive in Europe, operating at a cost of £5 million a year. The main cost is the dormitory, La Masia itself. The minimum age for the youth program is six years; each year, more than 1,000 boys from the ages of six to eight try out for admittance. The best 200 are selected. The club also actively seeks for prospective students; it employs a system in which 15 scouts are deployed in Catalonia, 15 in the rest of Spain and 10 scattered throughout the world. To alleviate the expenses of this scouting, the club has an agreement with 15 local clubs for them to train players who are not ready for entry into the youth academy. In return, FC Barcelona gives money, coaching and technical advice to these clubs for their services. While expanding its operations abroad, the club established five schools in Mexico and one in Egypt; successful applicants to these schools become full-time students, receiving academic education and football training.
When Guardiola re-organised the reserve side, he set up a three-staged program to formalise the advancement from Juvenil to Barcelona B and finally to the first team. The first stage of a youth player's career involves a rotation scheme with Barcelona B. The second stage involves making the player aware of his importance to the team, and expects the player to improve cohesion and performance within the reserve side. In the last stage, he is designated a "key" player of the B team and might be called to the first team. One of the players in the third phase is made captain, regardless of the experience of older players.
The teams at Barcelona play from August to May; mild weather at La Masia allows players to train outdoors throughout the year. The youth teams train after school; Barcelona B and C, as professional teams, train in the morning and evening. All of the trainers at FC Barcelona are former professional footballers.
FC Barcelona B, the club's main youth team, and the 12 other youth teams contained 24 coaches and more than 300 players. There are 56 other employees, including doctors, psychologists, nutritionists, cooks and physiologists. In the 2009–10 season, the B team qualified for the Segunda División again. Barcelona B play in a 4-3-3 formation, which is the same formation employed by the first team.
|Barcelona B[n 1]||–||26||Eusebio Sacristán|
|Juvenil A||16–18||19||Óscar García Junyent|
|Juvenil B||16–18||21||Xavier García Pimienta|
|Cadet A||14–15||19||Quique Álvarez Sanjuán|
|Cadet B||14–15||20||Francesc Artiga Cebrián|
|Infantil A||13–14||21||Francesc Sánchez Bas|
|Infantil B||13–14||20||Denis Silva Puig|
|Alevín A||11–12||13||Marcel Sans Navarro|
|Alevín B||11–12||13||Jordi Font Aloy|
|Alevín C||11–12||12||Àlex Gómez Comes|
|Alevín D||11–12||12||Xavi Bravo Gimenez|
|Benjamín A||9–10||11||Marc Serra Gregori|
|Benjamín B||9–10||10||Sergi Milà Herrero|
|Benjamín C||9–10||12||Cristian Catena Fuentes|
|Benjamín C||9–10||12||Jordi Pérez Trujillo|
|Prebenjamín||7–8||12||Rafa Rodriguez Vicente|
"The player who has passed through La Masia has something different to the rest, it's a plus that only comes from having competed in a Barcelona shirt from the time you were a child."
— Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola
Former technical director, Pep Segura, attributes the club's success to its "philosophy of play": "It is about creating one philosophy, one mentality, from the bottom of the club to the top". The philosophy consists of the application of total football mixed with traditional Spanish one-touch play (tiqui-taka). The total football approach was derived from the Netherlands football team through Cruyff. The total football approach requires the players to move in a fluid formation, where players can interchange positions quickly. In the youth academy, there is a large focus on technical ability, which is seen as a pre-requisite for inter-changes. An often-quoted reason for Barcelona's success is the continuity and commitment with which Barcelona follow the current philosophy of pass and move. Guardiola was the prototype of the pivotal midfielder; current midfielders Xavi and Iniesta are its custodians.
Another aspect of La Masia is its marked Catalan national character—local talent in the service of a club with a strong, defining sense of the cultural make-up of Catalonia. The supporters often prefer locally-developed players to foreign players if the players are equally talented. In this way, the emphasis on homegrown talent concurs with UEFA's attempts to curb the influx of foreign players in clubs. The head of UEFA, Michel Platini said: "Barcelona represent my philosophy, not only for the game, but also for the training of athletes".
In 2009, Messi became the first player from La Masia to be awarded with the Ballon d'Or prize for the best footballer in Europe, and the FIFA World Player award, for the best footballer in the world. Other La Masia alumni who finished in the top five in that year's balloting include Xavi and Iniesta.
On 11 July 2010, Spain won the World Cup final with eight players from Barcelona; seven were from La Masia, and six of them were in the starting line-up: Gerard Piqué, Carles Puyol, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Sergio Busquets, and Pedro Rodríguez. This set a record for the most players to be provided by a club side for a team in a World Cup final. Joachim Löw, coach of Germany, said after his side's defeat by Spain that the opposition had a distinct Barcelona style: "You can see it in every pass, how Spain plays is how Barcelona plays. They can hardly be beaten. They are extremely confident and very calm in the way they circulate the ball."
Below is a sortable list of La Masia alumni who have played in more than 50 professional top-tier league games, or currently play for the Barcelona first team. Only league appearances and goals are included.[n 2]
- No age restrictions; a fully professional team. Before the disbandment of Barcelona C, only players under 21 were allowed, but that is no longer the case.
- All player information from La Liga can be found on the official La Liga homepage, which list player data for each completed season.
- Country indicates national team as it has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Begins with first top-tier league game and ends with the last
- The club where a player has played the most games is listed. If the player is still active, current club is shown.
- McShane, Kevin (2002). Coaching youth soccer: the European model. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-1088-4.
- Martí Perarnau, Senda de campeones : De La Masía al Camp Nou, 10 Books (Grup 62), 2011.
- Price, Sean (6 July 2010). "School of Soccer Champions". Scholastic. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- totalbarca.com, It’s an all Barça affair at FIFA Ballon d’Or
- Rogers, Iain (22 October 2009). "Barca talent farm marks 30 years of success". Reuters. Retrieved 11April 2013.
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- Smith, Rory (17 July 2010). "World Cup 2010: Spain's battle won on the playing fields of Barcelona". Telegraph. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- Hawkey, Ian (28 March 2010). "Friends reunited: Cesc Fabregas and the class of 1987". The Times. Retrieved 30 July 2010. (subscription required)
- Rogers, Iain (25 May 2009). "INTERVIEW-Soccer-La Masia a fertile breeding ground for Barca". Reuters. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
- Kay, Alex (27 March 2010). "Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique... all forged in Barcelona's hothouse of champions". Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
- McShane, Kevin. p. 39
- McShane, Kevin. p. 53
- "FCBEscola". FC Barcelona. Retrieved 14 August 2010.[dead link]
- McShane, Kevin. p. 74-79
- McShane, Kevin. p. 105
- McShane, Kevin. p. 77
- McShane, Kevin. p. 79
- "Juvenil A Squad 2011–2012 season". FC Barcelona. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
- "Barça kids at home at La Masia". UEFA. 1 January 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
- McShane, Kevin. p. 74
- Wilson, Richard (9 July 2010). "Iberian total football is good copy of a Dutch master". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
- Lowe, Sid (24 May 2009). "Andrés Iniesta graduates from cameo role to take centre stage at Barcelona". Guardian. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
- Hawkey, Ian (14 May 2006). "Fame academy". The Times. (subscription required)
- "Platini still upset by Arsenal signings". 24hoursport.co.uk. 20 May 2009. Retrieved 30 July 2010.[dead link]
- Pellicer, Miquel (1 December 2009). "Messi, primer Balón de Oro de la Masia del Barça". El Mundo Deportivo. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
- Moore, Rob; Stokkermans, Karel (11 December 2009). "European Footballer of the Year ("Ballon d'Or")". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- Fitzpatrick. Furthermore, both Cesc Fabregas and Pepe Reina also hail from the Masía bringing the total number of players in the team to nine, Richard (9 July 2010). "Spain's heart not winning over minds of Catalans". The Irish Times. Retrieved 30 July 2010. (subscription required)
- Hughes, Rob (9 July 2010). "Talent to Spare, but There’s Only One Trophy". New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2010.
- "LFP – Barcelona Seasons". Liga de Fútbol Profesional Tables for other seasons may be obtained using the "Other searches" button. Retrieved 20 August 2010.[dead link]
- Domènech, O; Artús, J. L. (27 July 2010). "Òscar entrenará al Juvenil A | Barça". Mundodeportivo.es. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
- Was head coach of Barcelona youth side Juvenil A from 2009 to 2010 where Óscar García Junyent took over.
- "Plantilla 2010–11". FC Barcelona. Retrieved 20 August 2010.[dead link]
- Pare de Sergio Busquets. A partir de 2010, entrenador de porters del Barça
- Fill de Carles Busquets.
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