Barcelona’s La Masia Academy: Ranking the Top 10 Graduates
Inside the first 15 minutes, Dani Alves limped off with an injury. He was replaced by Martin Montoya—it proved irrelevant as Barcelona went onto beat Levante 4-0 in Valencia.
But that wasn’t the story.
The story was that when Montoya replaced the Brazilian, Barca had 11 graduates of the famed La Masia on the pitch.
No less than an old little farmhouse, it has produced some of the current generations finest players—although since 2011 the next crop are no longer based in the original setting (pictured).
In 2010 it boasted the top three in the Ballon d’Or.
In recent years, it has certainly risen to more prominence, and this list will reflect that.
So read on for the top 10 graduates from La Masia…
10. Gerard Pique
Pique actually deserted Barcelona for England, staying with Manchester United for four years.
He returned to Catalunya in 2008 and has enjoyed unprecedented success since, both internationally and domestically.
The 6’4″ central defender is the Grandson of a former vice-president of Barca, and aged just 26 has plenty of scope to move up this list.
9. Sergi Barjuan
Brought into the Barca first team at the beginning of the 1993-94 season, Barjuan was just too young to enjoy the formative years of Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team.
He was there for that final season though as the regular left-back and was part of the team that lost 4-0 to Milan in the 1994 European Cup final.
Three La Ligas, two Copa del Reys, a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and a UEFA Super Cup were won during his days wearing a La Blaugrana shirt.
8. Albert Ferrer
The right-back was a mainstay in the Barca team of Cruyff which dominated Spanish football at the beginning of the ’90’s.
Ferrer and his teammates won four consecutive league titles and one European Cup before being thrashed famously in the 1994 European Cup final.
In almost eight years at Camp Nou he made close to 300 appearances and won a lot of silverware.
7. Sergio Busquets
Josep Guardiola had Sergio Busquets on his Barcelona B team and promoted him to the first team when he got the managers job after Frank Rijkaard’s departure.
It’s hard to believe he’s still only 24 when you look back on the success he has enjoyed with his club, and his country, since 2008.
His Father—Carles Busquets—was a goalkeeper who also came through La Masia.
6. Guillermo Amor
Guillermo Amor made his debut for Barcelona in 1988 and went on to become one of the key men in the Dream Team of the early ’90s.
A ever-present midfielder, Amor won 12 domestic trophies with Barca and a further five in Europe.
Although, he missed out on playing in the 1992 European Cup final win against Sampdoria.
5. Carles Puyol
Probably one of the players to graduate from La Masia with the least technical ability—but what a heart, what a defender.
Carles Puyol has been putting the frighteners on La Liga defenders since 1999 and with over 400 games racked up, he shows no signs of retiring.
He’s been extremely successful at Barca too—a host of La Liga triumphs and Champions League wins lining his medal cabinet.
4. Josep Guardiola
The story goes that Josep Guardiola was playing as a skinny right midfielder for the B team when Johan Cruyff asked for him to be played centrally.
The Dutch coach liked what he saw, promoted him to the first team and the rest, as they say, is history—at least in Barcelona.
Guardiola became a key element of the Dream Team, spent over 10 years with the club as a player and returned to deliver unequivocal success as a manager.
3. Andres Iniesta
Sports journalist Guillem Balague recently sparked a mass debate on Twitter after comparing Andres Iniesta’s talents with those of Zinedine Zidane.
And, when you think about, it is not such a ridiculous argument.
Since his debut in 2002, Iniesta has been one of the fundamental cogs in both Barcelona and Spain’s successes—a beautiful player to watch.
2. Xavi Hernandez
If anyone can typify the tiki-taka fever which has gripped World football these last five years it is Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez.
Central to everything and key to Barca’s passing, he rarely drops below 100 passes per game and his success rate is always close to 95 percent.
In an era when strong, athletic, box-to-box players are threatening to run riot, Xavi has restored faith in small, technical players.
1. Lionel Messi
Who else could possibly occupy the No.1 spot?
Records continue to tumble week after week for the four time Ballon d’Or winner, even this week his goals against Rayo Vallecano carried his scoring streak to 18 consecutive La Liga games.
It’s easy to forget he’s still just 25. Already he’s scored over 300 goals while adorning the Barcelona shirt, and he’s not set to slow down any time soon.