Barcelona expands academy for youth players
Barcelona has risen to the top of European football on the
strength of its highly productive academy. Now, it’s looking to
expand its stock of homegrown talent through an expanded school
facility to develop even more young players.
The new building was presented to the media on Friday and bears
the name of the Catalan club’s emblematic old residence, La Masia.
By increasing its capacity from 60 to 83 players, Barca hopes to
produce more stars like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc
”We have visited several facilities of our competitors to get
ideas,” Jordi Moix, Barcelona’s economic and strategy director,
told The Associated Press, adding that Milan, Bilbao and Arsenal
were among the clubs scouted. ”To have a building like this at the
same place as the training fields … and not fifty kilometers
(away), it’s something we can be proud of. We can say this is one
of the best facilities now in the market.”
The 11-18 year olds selected by Barca’s talent scouts to train
at the old La Masia used to travel 30 minutes to practice each day.
But that has changed with the opening of the modern five-story
building located at Barca’s training grounds on the outskirts of
The new academy can house up to 58 football players. Another 23
spots are allocated to prospects for the club’s basketball,
handball and roller hockey teams. Twenty-two young athletes have
already moved in with more set to return from summer holidays.
The Spanish champions consider the ?11 million ($15.5 million)
cost of the facility a good long-term investment.
”We hope to create athletes to feed our first team, (players)
our fans can more easily identify with,” Moix said, adding that it
also makes financial sense to develop players instead of relying on
the transfer market to build a quality squad.
While the old La Masia is an 18th-century Catalan farmhouse, the
new one has the feel of a university residence.
The second and third floors have sleeping quarters for one, two
or four players, while the ground floor has a kitchen, dining room,
offices and classrooms with audiovisual equipment. It also has a
large central hangout area that is many a teenage boy’s dream come
true. The area is decorated with poster-sized images of Barca
players, and decked out with a large screen TV with tiered seating,
a space for video game consoles, a billiards table, and, of course,
a fussball table pitting a blue-and-burgundy side against an
But even though the facilities are modern, the club says it
wants its academy to maintain its sense of tradition.
”What we have done is bring the spirit of the Masia to this new
academy while improving the conditions for the children with more
modern (facilities), more space and more light,” Masia director
Carles Folguera said. ”The idea of the club is that the scouts
continue working as they have until now with a lot of
La Masia produced seven of the starting 11 players in
Barcelona’s commanding 3-1 win over Manchester United in the
Champions League final in May and nine of Spain’s World Cup winning