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27.05.2009 10:20

Home talent makes the difference

Jordi Clos

Barça’s homebred players are stunning Europe. We saw that against Chelsea, where seven players that came up through the ranks were involved, and all of these may well start the game in Rome.

La Masia will be well represented at the Olympic Stadium in Rome in the form of Valdés, Piqué, Puyol, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi. Any of those could play, and Bojan y Pedro are two of Pep Guardiola’s best alternative attacking options. Other local players are Jorquera and Víctor Sánchez, but both are injured against Manchester United.

Captains from home

Z_064.jpgOne example of this is the way all four captains are products of La Masia: Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta and Valdés. All of them are convinced that much of Barça’s success has been the use of home-grown players. “We can be proud that so many of our own players are getting time on the pitch, it shows things are going well”, says Puyol. Xavi adds that “whenever the club has been successful, it has had a lot to do with local players.”

Manchester United 99

FINAL_CHAMPIONS_1999_-_EUFORIA_MANCHESTER.jpgVan Gaal’s Ajax side of the early 90s typified what can be done. And then the last team to conquer Europe with mainly homebred talent was Manchester United in 1999, who won the title at the Camp Nou thanks to the likes of Giggs, Neville, Scholes and Beckham. The former three, all aged 34 or more now, are still with Sir Alex Ferguson, with other new players coming through to replace them.

New horizons

plantilla_united_ok.jpgBut the transition at United has not been smooth. The players that have come out of the famous United Academy are only playing supporting roles, such as Brown, O'Shea and Fletcher. It being difficult to scout local talent due to English restrictions on the circulation of young players, the Manchester club has changed its strategy, and is now looking abroad for potential. Defender Rafael and striker Macheda are two examples of this system.
Home talent makes the difference
Barça more home-based than United
A look at the Manchester United and FC Barcelona squads tells us that 12 of the 29 players (41%) on the English cub’s books came from their academy, while 11 of Barça’s 24 (46%) are from La Masia. United have Welbeck, Brown, O'Shea, Evans, Fletcher, Campbell, Gibson, Rafael, Fabio, Giggs, Neville and Scholes, while Barça can boast Piqué, Valdés, Busquets, Jorquera, Víctor Sánchez, Messi, Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta, Bojan and Pedro. But looking at United’s season and the availability of players, it is unlikely that any more than two of these United players (O'Shea and either Giggs or Scholes) will take part in the final. But Barça are based on home-grown talent, and could even have more of their youth products on the field in Rome than they do imported stars.

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