Guardiola returns to his roots to show off a new wave of brilliant Barça talent

Jamie Sanderson
Gerard Deulofeu 300x225 Guardiola returns to his roots to show off a new wave of brilliant Barça talent

Gerard Deulofeu is considered to have Messi-esque potential

He’s one of their ultimate prodigal sons. A La Masia product, who turned out over 260 times as part of Johan Cruyff’s ‘dream team era’ – a true Catalan legend. Yet few could have predicted Pep Guardiola’s meteoric rise in management, to become not only one of Barcelona’s most successful players, but coaches, too.

The B team boss done good, Guardiola celebrated his 200th game in charge last night, claiming his 144th victory, as Barça hit Viktoria Plzeň for four. A hat-trick for Lionel Messi, the first of which was his 200th goal for the club, and a Cesc Fàbregas strike, meant a remarkable 500 goals under Pep’s stewardship.

The records are continuing to fall, but look back to August 2008, and it wasn’t all such positivity. Guardiola left many nervous, after chopping established stars such as Ronaldinho, Deco and Gianluca Zambrotta in favour of building a new, home grown Barça.

Messi, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Carlos Puyol and Víctor Valdés took centre stage, while promotions from the B team in the form of Sergio Busquets and Pedro, combined with the La Masia developed Gerard Piqué and Fàbregas have helped keep the club’s philosophy and understanding of values strong.

Now, 200 games and 12 titles in, Guardiola is readying a new wave of talent. Exciting pass-master Thaigo was promoted to the first-team in the summer, and has since been followed by fellow midfielder Isaac Cuenca. He’s taken advantage of a number of injuries, to seal a regular place in the side in recent weeks.

A 20-year-old technically excellent winger, Cuenca has been forced to do things the hard way, twice leaving the club in order to get his breakthrough. It finally came last month, with 90 impressive minutes against Granada followed up with a goal in a rout over Real Mallorca.

Cuenca is a natural wideman, and assisted Fàbregas’ effort in the win against Plzeň last night, cementing a place in the first-team for the coming campaign. But he’s not the only prospect knocking on the door. Step forward teenager Gerard Deulofeu, another winger with great promise.

He was chased by Europe’s elite last year, but opted to stay at Barça, where he’s currently flourishing. Pace, skill, energy and craft, many believe 17-year-old Deulofeu to have Messi-esque potential. His star performance for Spain’s Under-19’s in the summer, as they claimed the European Championships, did little to dampen expectations.

Deulofeu made his début against Mallorca last weekend, exactly eight seasons after Iniesta did. It’s a notable omen, but for a player who admits his mother supports Real Madrid just to ‘p*ss him off’, he has the character and talent to reach the top.

Further down, watch out for Thaigo’s promising brother Rafinha, stylish creator Sergi Roberto and defensive prospects Andreu Fontàs, Marc Bartra and Alejandro Grimaldo, all of whom have shown flashes of the potential that could see them soon plucked from Guardiola’s former B team to join his new wave of talent, bidding up to maintain Barcelona’s unrivalled dominance.

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  • Allan John Damulira

    They all will not make it in one team. Worse still, the Pique-Fabregas scenario makes it hard for big teams to take them away and give them a chance.

  • PCandles35

    Little-known fact: Fontas is a full-fledged first team player, with a recent contract extension to boot. Not that he actually plays or anything.

  • ℬishopsℬlaize

    Pique and Fabregas developed their skills in United and Arsenal, sure they was in La Masia at one point, but thy did not develope in to the players they are today there.

    And if anyone says that just because they joined the English clubs at the age of 16-17 and therefore cant be counted as those clubs products, Puyol cant be counted as a Barca product since he joined Barca at 17.

  • Ramzi

    Dont we all like casual opinions?

    A product of an academy depends on how far that academy contributed in developing the player, it has nothing to do with age. Puyol debuted 5 years after joining Barcelona. When he joined the team he was a striker, after playing a goal keeper – all on amateurish level. After 5 years he debuted as a defender and turned to be a world class one. Thats why he is a Barcelona product, not because he joined when he was 17. The same as if a talented player joins a team when he is 16 and debut when he is 17 as a fixed starter, he is NOT a youth academy graduate as that academy didnt even have a chance to develop him. He was already developed enough somewhere else when he moved.

    Besides, one player can be a product of many clubs that contribute each in turn to make him world class player. But if you insist on not accepting that, here are details EPL media doesnt tell you:

    - Pique barely played for Man Utd. Most of his development happened in Spain mainly at Barcelona and even in Zaragoza.

    - Unlike Cesc, Puyol joined Barcelona from the backyard of his house. When Cesc left Barcelona he was already an established quality goalscoring midfielder as his records prove. One year later he was a starter for Arsenal, if thats not an evidence that he was in an advanced stage of his development, thats an insult for Arsenal- if you think about it. We can debate all day if this move developed Cesc or actually damaged the last phase of his development-and right now he’s trying to catch up lot of skills he missed  (Different opinions accepted), but to think he was nothing till he joined Arsenal who made a world class player out of him is too naive – though popular and common.

  • ℬishopsℬlaize

    Calling Fabregas a developed player when joining Arsenal is wrong, he wasnt. I dont read Spanish newspapers, i watch football.

    I have seen Fabregas since he joined Arsenal, and since he joined Barcelona. Arsenal let him play alongside players like Vieira, Ljungberg, hard working players that would help Fabregas, he wasnt developed.

    Since Pique went to the starters since he joined Barca, surely it must mean that hes a United product, based on what you say about Fabregas.

    Ronaldo was also a starter only one year after he joined United, but was he a developed player? No, all he could do was run and dribble, the rest of his skills he learned at United.

  • AFC Ajax

    Is there anything as such as a “Pique-Fabregas scenario”? Maybe in the way they left Barcelona but not much in the way they returned.

    Pique was 21 and hadn’t established himself at Manchester in spite of showing promise. No one at the club opposed his departure and the deal was done with minimum fuss and for a low fee. On the other hand Fabregas didn’t need to join Barcelona to better his chances of first team football. He was an established international when he left Arsenal, an important member of their starting XI. Unlike Pique who joined the rebuilding Barça of 2008, Fabregas signed for a club that had reached a pinnacle, after years of wrangling and a considerable transfer fee.

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