Barcelona’s search for the next Lionel Messi: Behind-the-scenes footage lifts lid on La Masia and how La Liga giants have achieved their academy success
Barcelona have lifted the lid on the inner workings of their famous La Masia academy and their search to find the next Lionel Messi in revealing behind-the-scenes footage.
In the final episode of a four-part series created by Beko, first shown by Sportsmail, the cameras delve deep into the club to see how they develop their young stars and prepare them for life in the first team.
The likes of Pep Guardiola, Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta and Xavi were all residents at La Masia at the start of their careers, going on to great things in the club’s first team.
Barcelona’s La Masia academy is very famous and has brought through many world-class stars
A long shot of the La Masia facilities shows the club’s badge proudly branded on the building
Lionel Messi (centre) is one of the most famous products of their impressive academy set-up
As inspiration, their names and photos are displayed on the walls of the building, in the hope that the current crop of young stars can follow their path.
Patrick Kluivert, another club legend after spending six years in the first team at the prime of his career, is the current director of youth football, and knows all too well the importance of the academy.
‘Everybody knows La Masia,’ he says. ‘If you play in Barcelona, you have a dream, and the dream is to become a first-team player. If young players are playing in [the La Masia] system, they want to be in the first team at Barcelona.’
The manager of the La Masia residence is Juanjo Luque, who for the past two-and-a-half years has dedicated himself to the development of the club’s young players.
When asked what values they look for in their players, he reels them off: ‘Humility, respect, teamwork, ambition, and effort. We view humility as a priority.’
The brand new, state-of-the-art facilities opened in 2011, updating the original base which spans back to 1979, and more than 80 sportspeople live there.
Patrick Kluivert, himself a Barcelona legend, is currently the director of youth football
The current crop of Barcelona youth players are put through their paces at La Masia
Ansu Fati is the latest superstar coming through as Barcelona search for their next Messi
Not only do they cater for young footballers, but also basketball, hockey, futsal and handball players who are coming from outside the city to join Barcelona’s different academies.
One huge element of their journey through the academy is food, with staff working hard to make sure the young players are eating the right things. Beko’s current Eat Like A Pro campaign aims to help members of the public achieve similar goals.
Some of the most talented youngsters pushing through from La Masia to the Barcelona first team right now are the likes of Carles Perez, Carles Alena, Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati.
The latter burst onto the scene at the start of the season and became Barcelona’s youngest ever goalscorer when he netted against Osasuna.
Fati went on to score at the Nou Camp in his next match, and has already played six times for the first team this season, including in the Champions League.
The players are taught to eat right from a young age, as an important part of their learning
The manager of the La Masia residence is Juanjo Luque, who dedicates himself to the players
Messi trains during his youth days at La Masia, years before he came the world’s very best
‘It’s nice to see players that have come up through the youth system making it to the first team,’ Luque adds.
‘When we see an athlete debut in the first team, we are very proud. It is special to see someone who came through La Masia end up fulfilling their dream.’
It will certainly be difficult to unearth another generational gem anywhere near the level of Messi, but the search is on and the foundations have been laid for years and years of future success.