Ansu Fati y Riqui Puig siguen en dinámica del primer equipo

Barça's academy, and its players, require patience

OPINION

@JordiCruyff

The ideal scenario in any job is to cultivate your own, in-house talent and invest in youngsters with great potential. But there is no guarantee anyone or anything will be a success. From the outset, you have to be fully aware that there will be years of good harvest and others of drought, it is a job that requires patience and success in detecting and cultivating talent. Ajax was fully aware that they had two kids in their academy, Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, with promising futures. For a couple of seasons, they avoided the need to sign reinforcements in their respective positions as it would hinder their progression. But this strategy is easier at a club like Ajax than at Barcelona, who are expected - and required - to win everything domestically and in Europe.

However, I do feel it's fundamental to have the academy correctly positioned when it's time to promote youngsters to the first team. The jump from the 2ªB to LaLiga is far too great. It's why I was surprised to see Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig and Ronald Araujo make their debuts with the senior side and play without any fear. I would say that has been the best news from Barça this season, as well as the match against Sabadell.

To have Barça B in the Segunda División would've been crucial to giving more youngsters their debuts without worrying if they were ready to make the step up. If that isn't the case then you are going to have more Trincao's, who have established themselves in Liga NOS, than a kid who has never played above the third division in Spain. In the Segunda División, you play in historic stadiums against experienced, former LaLiga players. It's a crucial platform ahead of moving onto the elite. Barça B have spent far too much time away from that level.

There was a reason to celebrate the XI which faced Alaves: three players who came through La Masia started. Ronald Araujo, Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati have all proven themselves worthy of a first-team spot. But in many regards, it looked like they were picked due injuries and suspensions rather than purely on merit. With the senior team having a week off, it's difficult to understand why those players didn't join their teammates and help the B side earn promotion. If Araujo helped make the difference against Badajoz, imagine the impact of Riqui and Ansu as 'reinforcements' in the final. 

In times like the one we're experiencing right now due to COVID-19, a lot of teams - like Barça - are going to turn to their academies. That is why it's crucial to keep hold of the best emerging talent. But it would be a mistake to bet everything on youngsters and treat them as if they were the most important 'signings' of the season. It puts far too much expectation on their development. A young kid needs to have some margin of error, the responsibility and success of the team can't be placed on their shoulders. They will always have ups and downs. Patience is a key part of the process.

WHAT I LIKED: Well done to LaLiga for finishing the season. It's true that the case involving Fuenlabrade has soured the conclusion of the leagues but that situation was bound to happen when you're finishing a league in the middle of a pandemic. You must applaud everyone who has followed the protocols.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The accusations between the clubs, LaLiga and the Consejo Superior de Deportes in the Fuenlabrada case. Once again what was lacking is a bit of discretion when looking for who is responsible for the chaos. It doesn't help anyone to have these arguments and accusations in full view of the public. It's far too serious of a situation when it involves the integrity of the competition as well as the health of people.

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