Where are they now? The 37 Barcelona academy players to debut in the 2010s
Barcelona‘s La Masia academy is arguably the most famous in world football, but who’s come through it in the past 10 years?
The likes of Sergio Busquets, Xaxi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol and Lionel Messi himself have developed there. None since have quite scaled the heights of those players, but some have gone on to become club stalwarts, others have amounted to very little, while many have enjoyed respectable careers elsewhere.
Here are the 37 to have made their first-team debut, either straight from the academy or via the B team, in the 2010s.
A half-decent club servant who made just over 100 appearances in all competitions after being handed his debut by Pep Guardiola on Valentine’s Day 2010. He was never quite trusted to become a first-choice option but was a capable enough back-up.
Unfortunately for Bartra, the most abiding memory of him in a Barcelona shirt was getting burned for pace by Gareth Bale in the Welshman’s iconic match-winner for Real Madrid in the 2014 Copa del Rey final.
He’s now back in La Liga with Real Betis after a stint with Borussia Dortmund.
— Dugout (@Dugout) April 16, 2019
The academy graduate made his debut in less than brilliant circumstances, a 3-1 defeat to Sevilla in the 2010 Spanish Super Cup – especially when Barcelona came back in the second leg without him, winning 5-3 on aggregate.
He then made one league appearance during the 2010-11 season before being sold to Chelsea for €5million, but he never made much of an impact at Stamford Bridge either and has since carved out a modest career at Southampton.
Roberto was handed his senior competitive debut by Guardiola in a 5-1 win over lower league side Ceuta in the Copa del Rey in November 2010. It’s been quite the decade for him since, making over 250 appearances and playing a prominent role in four La Liga title wins.
Able to play at right-back or in midfield, he’s a handy utility man and also cropped up with one of Barcelona’s most memorable goals in history, the last-minute winner of Barcelona’s 6-5 comeback against PSG.
If you start watching Barcelona’s comeback against PSG from Neymar’s penalty at exactly 23:55:25 on New Year’s eve, Sergi Roberto’s volley will hit the back of the next at exactly midnight. Start off your new year right. pic.twitter.com/dc6VfG7KrR
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 21, 2017
The deputy right-back made his senior debut in February 2011, having received rave reviews for his performances as Luis Enrique’s Barca B achieved promotion during the 2010-11 campaign. But he was never likely to usurp Dani Alves, and it proved to be his old youth team-mate Sergi Roberto that would be the Brazilian’s successor.
Still, Montoya played 67 times for Barcelona in five years and is one of a fair few La Masia alumni to grace the Premier League. He’s a regular for Brighton since moving from Valencia in 2018.
The oldest debutant on this list, Fabregas took the long way round to appear for his boyhood club. He was back as a 24-year-old in 2011, having left La Masia for Arsenal as just a boy, nine years prior.
He only came back for three seasons in the end before moving back to London to go to Chelsea. During that time he won one La Liga title and one Copa del Rey.
Guardiola called on Cuenca 16 times during the 2011-12 season, in which Barca lost out on the title to Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid. But after being promoted from the B team for that season, he never made another appearance for the club. He’s now with Japanese side Sagan Tosu.
120 appearances for Barca B, two cup appearances for the senior team in 2012-13. The left back’s now turning out for Cypriot side AEK Larnaca.
Sandro showed some flashes at Barcelona but never quite enough. After two years with the senior team and two league goals from 17 appearances (mostly off the bench), he was sold to Malaga, where he scored an impressive 14 goals from 30 appearances in his first season as a regular top-flight striker.
A subsequent spell with Everton was less successful, yielding just one goal.
The occasionally brilliant, often frustrating forward’s development probably wasn’t helped by the convoluted, back-and-forth lack of settlement in his early career.
He made just two appearances in the league for Barcelona between 2011 and 2013 before – are you following closely? – going on loan to Everton, then Sevilla, then being sold to Everton on a permanent deal in 2015.
After a year at Goodison, he went out on loan to AC Milan for year before being bought back by Barcelona in 2017.
He returned to make 10 La Liga appearances for the club before being sold going to Watford, originally on loan for half a season, before joining permanently in 2018.
Tello was originally handed his debut by Guardiola in January 2012 before going on to play a small part in the record points tally achieved by Tito Villanova’s team of 2012-13.
He scored 11 goals in 59 league appearances for La Blaugrana before being sold to Real Betis in 2017.
No one could have predicted that the lightning-fast winger from Barcelona’s La Masia academy would have trod the career path he has so far.
He made his first and only La Liga appearance for Barcelona, replacing Neymar in a 4-0 win over Granada in November 2013. He was just 17 years old at the time, but never made another league appearance. He’s since turned out for Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa and Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough before moving to Wolves.
Now a regular for a top-half Premier League club, also in the Europa League, he’s developing well and finally adding end product to his game.
One Champions League appearance for Barcelona as a substitute in a 2-1 defeat to Ajax, but he’s had a solid career after departing for Lazio. Now 26, he’s a regular at centre-half for Simone Inzaghi’s high-flying Eagles.
Jean Marie Dongou
Hailing from Douala, Cameroon, Jean Marie Dongou originally joined Barcelona as a 13-year-old in 2008 through the Samuel Eto’o Foundation.
He made one substitute appearance in La Liga, the Copa del Rey and Champions League apiece over the course of the 2013-14 season, but never really broke through beyond the B team, for whom he made well over 100 appearances. He left for Zaragoza in 2016, but currently finds himself without a club at the age of 24.
The Barcelona native had been on and off the club’s books since he was six years old. He climbed up the ranks to make it to the B team, and two Copa appearances for the first team – home and away in a 6-1 aggregate win over CF Villanovense in October 2015 – but that was it, and he was offloaded to Villarreal in 2016.
He’s now featuring alongside young Oriol Busquets, currently on loan from Barca, at FC Twente.
Like Dongou, Wilfrid Kaptoum originally joined from Samuel Eto’o’s Cameroonian foundation.
The midfielder didn’t do a great deal at Barcelona with two Copa del Rey and one Champions League appearance in the 2015-16 season, but he’s made more of his career after leaving than his compatriot Dongou, still playing at a high level with Real Betis, having originally joined them in 2018, finally making his full La Liga debut for Betis as they beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 in February 2019.
Turning heads for his performances in Manchester City’s youth set-up, Denis Suarez returned to Spain as a 19-year-old in 2013, originally coming up through Celta Vigo’s academy as a youngster.
He continued his development in the B team at first before going out on loan to Sevilla before being sold to Villarreal and bought back after a season. After a long wait, he finally got opportunities during the 2016-17 season, making 36 appearances in all competitions as Barcelona missed out on both the league and Champions League.
He’s since failed to make a place for himself in the team and rejoined boyhood club Celta in the summer of 2019.
Munir El Haddadi
Munir made 33 league appearances for Barcelona between 2014 and 2019, just as many as he did on loan spells at both Valencia and Alaves between 2016 and 2018.
He returned from the latter loan spell to make seven appearances, scoring one goal, in the league title of 2018-19, but left on a permanent deal to Sevilla midway through the campaign.
A regular for Barcelona B between 2008 and 2014, the goalkeeper was unlikely to ever usurp Victor Valdes, Claudio Bravo or Marc-Andre ter Stegen and was mostly a benchwarmer when he was given the promotion to the first-team squad in 2014.
He made his senior debut in a 8-1 thrashing of Huesca in the Copa del Rey in December 2014, making his first and only league appearance in a 2-2 draw against Deportivo La Coruna.
But he’s since proven himself a decent La Liga shot-stopper since moving to Valladolid in 2017.
Like so many illustrious names, Carbonell can say he’s played for Barcelona. But just once, and only in the Copa del Rey. The midfielder started in a 1-1 draw against Hercules CF in the Copa del Rey in November 2016.
Shortly after he was sold to Reus, but he’s been working his way back up. He’s currently on Valencia B’s books, out on loan at Dutch side Fortuna Sittard.
Samper was talked up as Sergio Busquets’ long-term successor at the base of Barcelona’s midfield, but it just never quite happened for the Barcelona-born talent, who suffered a number of injury setbacks since his first-team debut against APOEL in September 2014.
He made 13 appearances for Barcelona, just one in La Liga, before being sold to Japanese side Vissel Kobe in 2019, joining up his old team-mate Andres Iniesta.
Another La Masia academy graduate that didn’t quite have enough to break into Barcelona’s midfield, his career with the first team amounted to 10 appearances between 2014 and 2016, eventually being sold on to Leganes.
He’s now back with his hometown club Girona, aiming to help the club achieve promotion back up to La Liga.
The striker only ever made one Copa del Rey appearance for Barca, in 2016, since being poached from provincial Spanish side Sanluqueno.
Cardona is still in the top flight of Spanish football though. Last season he was out on loan at Eibar, now he’s on Osasuna’s books.
Some say the 20-year-old defensive midfielder will be good enough to displace his namesake at the base of Barcelona’s midfield.
He’s only made one appearance for Barcelona’s first team, a 5-0 win over Real Murcia in November 2017, and he’s currently developing his skills out on loan at FC Twente.
While Neymar and Dani Alves dazzled at Barcelona, there are a number of Brazilians that have made next to no impact at the club over the past decade.
Marlon Santos is one such player. The centre-half joined originally on loan from Fluminense, playing in the Champions League against Celtic and in La Liga against Las Palmas in November 2016, but generally didn’t make it past the B team. He was sold to Serie A side Sassuolo in 2018 and has found his feet there as a regular starter.
Another fan favourite, it remains to be seen whether Alena will ever fully breakthrough into Barcelona’s midfield since making his debut in November 2016, scoring the equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Hercules in the Copa del Rey.
He since made 17 appearances during Barcelona’s La Liga title win of 2018-19. Still just 21, he’s got time on his side going forward.
José Manuel Arnáiz
The left winger only spent one season on Barcelona’s books, mostly in the Segunda Division for Barcelona B, but he did make one appearance for the senior team – from the bench in a 3-0 win over Levante in January 2018. That summer, he joined Leganes.
A recurring theme of Barcelona’s homegrown players with some buyback shenanigans. Left-back Marc Cucurella was bought back from Eibar 16 days after a permanent deal was sealed earlier this year, then opting to send him straight out on loan to Getafe.
He looked comfortable on loan at Eibar during the 2018-19 season, but his Barcelona career amounts to a brief Copa del Rey cameo as a late substitute in a 3-0 win over Real Murcia back in October 2017.
Wague caught the eye for Senegal in the 2018 World Cup and joined Barcelona shortly after. He’s been ticking along with the B team mostly, but was given 90 minutes in a Catalan Super Cup match against Girona in March 2019.
His official Barcelona debut came in a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Celta Vigo after the title had already been wrapped up in April 2019, making his second appearance alongside Carles Perez in the 2-2 draw with Eibar.
A fan favourite among Barcelona’s vocal Twitter support, there’s a genuine hope that Riqui Puig will be the future of Barcelona’s midfield.
They’re having to be patient, though. He’s made just three appearance in total, first making his La Liga debut in a 0–0 draw against Huesca in April 2019.
His senior Barcelona career might only amount to a substitute appearance against Celta Vigo, but he’s made the headlines already with a brilliant run and backheel finish for the B team.
Juan Brandáriz Movilla also known as ‘Chumi’ made his first-team debut alongside his B team-mate Cuenca in the 1-0 win over Cultural Leonesa.
The defender has subsequently been handed a couple more cup appearances.
Teenage left-back Juan Miranda never appeared for Barcelona in the league but made three appearances in the Copa del Rey and one brief Champions League cameo in the 2018-19 season. He’s since joined Schalke on a two-year deal.
Madrid-born Cuenca has captained Barca B in recent years and is seen as a solid centre-half. He was signed by the club shortly after becoming Alcorcon youngest-ever debutant. He was given his first-team debut in the Copa del Rey, playing 60 minutes as Barcelona beat Cultural Leonesa 1-0 in October 2018.
The winger has represented Barcelona at youth levels since 2012, playing for the B team since 2015. At the age of 21, he was handed his senior debut in the final match of the 2018-19 season, a 2-2 draw with Eibar.
This season he’s become more of a regular under Ernesto Valverde, given five La Liga starts and a further three appearances from the bench. So far he’s scored one goal and registered two assists.
Highly-rated due to his performances with Spain’s youth sides, clocking up over 50 appearances as he’s graduated from the Under-17s to the Under-21s, 19-year-old forward Abel Ruiz has also been turning out for Barcelona B since 2016.
His senior career so far amounts to a 20-minute cameo off the bench in a 2-0 victory over Getafe in the final weeks of the 2018-19 campaign.
At the age of 16, Ansu Fati became Barcelona’s youngest ever goalscorer in a 2-2 draw with Osasuna back in September and is now the Champions League’s record goalscorer. What were you doing when you were 17?
Ansu Fati is the first player younger than Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to score a CL goal
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) December 10, 2019
The Uruguayan centre-half has turned out for Barcelona B since making the switch away from his home country in 2018.
He was handed his debut as Barcelona led Sevilla 4-0 in October 2019, but suffered a nightmare as he was shown a red card after just 13 minutes for a tackle on Javier Hernandez.