Fc Barcelona has always been a fountain of immense talent, and it wasn’t different in recent years either. Since 2019, a unique series has been running in terms of the incoming generation bursting onto the stage, promising a bright and hopeful future for the Blaugrana.
Over the course of the years, the name of the Catalan club has coalesced with the unashamed usage of youth, predominantly by our famed academy, La Masia. The youth system, which is, by all means, one of the best in the industry, has produced some great players like Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi, and still continues to do so with our protagonists in the center.
The wonderkid of 2019: Ansu Fati
Sevilla, August 25, 2019. A certain boy named Ansummane Fati had made his first appearance in the Barcelona shirt, coming off the bench as a substitute in the 78′ minute. Many of us were just wondering ‘who even is this guy?’, but he chose to let his deeds do the speaking. From his first touch of the ball, the youngster displayed great maturity and thunderous talent for his age and quickly convinced everyone with his performance.
Soon, he has broken several records, and with the constant standout performances, he earned the continuous trust of his coaches and the unconditional adoration of the fans, establishing himself as a key player for both the club and the national team – still, at just the age of 18.
Unfortunately, after a horrific injury against the Real Betis, his meteoric rise had come to a halt. One and a half years of absence really challenged his strength and perseverance, but now, fortunately, he is back on the pitch. Hopefully, he can recover his level and continue to shine even brighter than he did, because his potential is somewhere up there among the stars.
The wonderkid of 2020: Pedri
2020. After the humiliating, historic 8-2 defeat from Bayern München, a drastic rebuild has started, with the kicking of the likes of Luis Suárez, Ivan Rakitić, Arturo Vidal, and an unreasonable exchange of Arthur Melo to Miralem Pjanić. In a generally lackluster window, where the board mostly failed to cover the significant losses, a quiet, under-the-table signing, Pedri González has quickly come out of the fog and became an undroppable piece of the midfield in just a couple of weeks.
His extreme maturity and composure made it possible for the young Spaniard to settle into the team seamlessly, and even though he did not come from the ranks of La Masia, he perfectly fitted into the Catalan system. His technical abilities and footballing intelligence are unquestionable, and his precision and calmness satisfy the eye of the spectator. While he has also suffered a long-term injury, his positive effect immediately showed on the team, and this season, he is playing at a very high level, and for me, he is one of the best midfielders not only in the La Liga but in the entire footballing world.
The wonderkid of 2021: Gavi
So now, the wunderkind of 2021. Benefitting from an injury crisis and the absence of the aforementioned Pedri, a dynamic duo of two of our own academy graduates, namely Pablo Gavi and Nico González got an opportunity to jump in and show their capability. And they did not disappoint. Both of them left a good impression on then-manager Koeman, and their inclusion remained continuous.
However, the one who rather stood out of the two was Gavi, who instantly stole the hearts of the fans with his passion and devotion. His tenacity and aggression combined with great control and combinative play make him an invaluable gem for us, in and out of possession as well. With Xavi’s takeover, his prominence has even increased, and by the new season, he has become the undisputable starter in La Computadora’s setup. While he still has some rawness in his game, his better and better unfolding potential has a terrifying ceiling waiting to be fully unlocked.
The wonderkid of 2022 – Alejandro Balde
And, here comes our newest prodigy. Alejandro Balde, while making his debut earlier but struggling to settle in the team previously, has finally become Xavi’s favored choice for the left-back spot, a position unchallengedly occupied by Jordi Alba for a long while. A change many fans impatiently waited for, and based on his current performances, he 100% deserves the praise and repays the trust put in him.
Pacy and physical, agile, and technical, he possesses everything a modern fullback needs, one who can effectively support attacks, justified by his joint-most 3 assists in La Liga so far, but also track back when defending. His development has come on a steep trajectory lately, and the level the young fullback represents is by all means worthy of the starting lineup.
Last but not least, all these highly talented youngsters represent the core of the new Barcelona, which, complemented with the experience of the likes of Raphinha, Lewandowski, and Busquets, can fire the team back up to the top. Bear in mind, they are just around the margin of adulthood, so they have, hopefully, plenty of time left at the club to be the flagbearers of a long-term project at the Camp Nou.