Where are they now? Barcelona’s XI of La Masia graduates from 2012
While several teams have proud records of blooding academy products, Barcelona were able to field a team consisting entirely of La Masia graduates in November 2012.
After Martin Montoya replaced an injured Dani Alves in the 14th minute of a 4-0 victory at Levante, Barca had an entirely homegrown team for the first time in their history.
We’ve taken a look back at their side from that day to see how those players have fared since.
GK: Victor Valdes
After leaving Barcelona in 2014, Valdes had a brief stint in England with Manchester United and Middlesbrough before hanging up his gloves.
The 40-year-old then began a career in coaching and returned to Barcelona as their Under-19s manager in 2019 but was sacked after just 80 days in charge.
Valdes then spent a few months in charge of Spanish fourth division side UA Horte, before leaving his post in March 2021. He then reportedly rejected an offer from president Joan Laporta to return as a goalkeeping coach.
RB: Martin Montoya
Montoya was unable to usurp Dani Alves on a regular basis and joined Valencia in 2016 following the expiration of his contract with Barcelona.
The right-back spent two years at the Mestalla before moving to the Premier League with Brighton in 2018.
He made 56 appearances for the Seagulls but eventually fell behind Tariq Lamptey in the pecking order and returned to Spain with Real Betis in 2020.
CB: Gerard Pique
Pique has remained an ever-present at the heart of the Barcelona defence and has since notched up over 600 appearances for the club. Only four players have made more – all of them in this team.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 6, 2020
CB: Carles Puyol
Puyol eventually hung up his boots at the end of the 2013-14 season, having won 18 titles during his 15-year career in the Barcelona first team.
He initially stayed on with the club and was appointed as their assistant director of football but resigned a few months later.
The 44-year-old now runs an agency alongside fellow La Masia graduate Ivan de la Pena and rejected an offer to become Barcelona’s sporting director in 2019. A return to the club, to work alongside Xavi and Laporta in some capacity, has been rumoured – but nothing is yet confirmed.
LB: Jordi Alba
Alba spent seven years at the La Masia youth academy before developing into one of the best left-backs in Europe while at Valencia.
He has won five league titles, five Spanish Cups and the Champions League since returning to the Nou Camp in 2012 and is still one of the first names on the team sheet.
DM: Sergio Busquets
Since breaking into the first team under Pep Guardiola in 2008, Busquets has won everything there is to win at the Camp Nou.
Despite increased competition from Frenkie de Jong, the 33-year-old remains an integral part of their team and has made over 100 appearances over the past two seasons.
“I have never seen myself anywhere else,” Busquets told Diario Sport in November 2018.
“I have always said I won’t be better off anywhere else. Me and the club are made for each other. I can enjoy being at home, at the best club in the world, with the best players, fighting for titles every year… winning the majority. There’s practically nowhere else you can do that.”
Busquets is now the club captain following the departure of Lionel Messi.
After lifting the Champions League trophy on his 767th and final appearance for Barcelona, Xavi joined Qatari club Al Sadd in 2015.
The midfielder won the Qatar Stars League, the Sheikh Jassim Cup, the Qatar Cup and the Qatari Super Cup during his four years with the club. Oh, and the Qatar lottery. He became their manager after retiring in 2019, and is now – inevitably – back in the hot seat at the Camp Nou.
CM: Cesc Fabregas
Having left La Masia for Arsenal as just a boy, Fabregas starred in the Premier League before returning to Barcelona in 2011.
The Spain international failed to establish himself as a first-team regular, however, and moved back to London with Chelsea in 2014.
After winning two Premier League titles during a four-and-a-half-year spell with the Blues, the 35-year-old is now a free agent after leaving Monaco earlier this summer.
Despite scoring 99 goals in 321 appearances for Barcelona, Pedro was deemed surplus to requirements in 2015 and reunited with Fabregas at Chelsea.
The forward continued to collect honours at Stamford Bridge, winning the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League before joining Roma on a free transfer in 2020.
Pedro’s still turning out at the Stadio Olimpico now – but for Roma’s city rivals Lazio.
ST: Lionel Messi
Messi was breaking records and scoring incredible goals for Barcelona back 2012. Not much changed over the following nine years, before his shock exit to PSG in 2021 amid the club’s financial implosion.
LW: Andres Iniesta
Iniesta brought an end to his 22-year association with Barcelona in 2018, having won nine La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.
The midfielder joined Vissel Kobe on a free transfer and led the Japanese side to their first piece of silverware when they won the Emperor’s Cup in January 2020.
“Right now, I’m trying to extend my playing career as much as possible, I want to kick a ball for as long as I can because that’s what makes me happy,” Iniesta told the Guardian in April 2020.
He’s since reached over 100 appearances for the Japanese club and has extended his current deal in Japan until 2023.