Guardiola wants Barcelona starting line-up exclusively formed at La Masia
According to AS, Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola has privately expressed a wish that in 2012 he will be able to field a team in a major fixture comprising only players who have come through the club’s famed La Masia academy.
It would be the icing on the cake for a club that has traditionally been keen to blood youngsters and is a sentiment was first expressed by former boss Louis van Gaal in his first stint at Barca back in 1998. The Dutchman said: “I would like to play a Champions League final with 11 players formed in the club’s youth academy.”
At the time it was perhaps just a pipedream, yet Guardiola is close to bringing it to reality as he continues to select players such as Isaac Cuenca and Thiago Alcántara for first-team duty. In the recent Copa del Rey game against L’Hospitalet the Barca boss chose a dozen home-grown players in his squad and nine for the 4-0 Champions League defeat of BATE Borisov at the Camp Nou, the game immediately preceding El Clásico.
For the final of the World Club Cup in Japan, a 4-0 victory over Santos, nine of the starting line-up had started their careers at La Masia (with the exceptions of Dani Alves and Eric Abidal) and even Gerard Piqué and Cesc Fabregas, although having played for Manchester United and Arsenal respectively, learned their trade as youngsters with the Catalan giants.
Competition for places in the coming year will be fiercer than ever and several budding stars are waiting in the wings for their chance to stake a claim. Jonathan dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Deulofeu, Marc Bartra, Isaac Cuenca, Thiago Alcántara...... the list appears to be endless for a number of players hoping 2012 will be their year.
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