Barca turns to academy

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

BARCELONA — Barcelona’s famed youth academy has taken a back seat to big-name sign­ings in re­cent years but as a re­sult of the Fifa trans­fer ban im­posed on the club, promis­ing young­sters have been given a chance to shine in Luis En­rique’s side.

Dur­ing the pre-sea­son tour of the US, at one point there were 10 home­grown youth play­ers on the pitch against Chelsea on Tues­day.

Rafinha (pic­tured) and 20-year-old Sergi Sam­per have looked sharp in mid­field while San­dro Ramirez, also aged 20, has been a threat in at­tack and took his goal well in the Chelsea clash they lost on penal­ties.

Sergi Roberto, though, has been the most used player in warm-up matches and Luis En­rique praised his per­for­mance at right back.

With Barcelona serv­ing a two-win­dow trans­fer ban in 2015, set af­ter they broke rules on sign­ing un­der-age play­ers, the club have fo­cused their ef­forts on fast-track­ing youth play­ers to the se­nior squad in the ab­sence of mar­quee sign­ings.

“Sergi Roberto has done well and he has the abil­ity to play in sev­eral po­si­tions,” Luis En­rique told re­porters af­ter the Chelsea match.

“He is an op­tion that we are go­ing to use. He is a player that is strong and I am sure that he can give us a lot at full­back.”

Over the last cou­ple of sea­sons as play­ers of the cal­i­bre of Ney­mar and Luis Suarez ar­rived at the Nou Camp, the Cata­lan side had de­pended less and less on their home­grown tal­ent.

Lionel Messi was the only youth prod­uct in their lethal at­tack­ing tri­dent that helped them win the tre­ble last sea­son.

Play­ers such as Thi­ago Al­can­tara failed to find their way into the first team and he ended up at Bay­ern Mu­nich with for­mer Barca coach Pep Guardi­ola, who had pre­vi­ously re­lied heav­ily on the youth academy to bol­ster the club.

But with the Fifa trans­fer ban forc­ing Barcelona to look for new tal­ent closer to home, the youth academy’s grad­u­ates know that they may never get a bet­ter chance to make a quick im­pact among the club’s big boys. — Reuters

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