La Masia is well known as one of the best academies in the world after developing one of the best talents with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Sergio Busquets, Thiago, Jordi Alba, Puyol, Pique, Ansu Fati, Gavi among others. Let’s talk about how some of the latest former La Masia and Barcelona B players born in 2000+ are doing in Europe. We will talk about some popular cases as well as less known and recently departed players, while some of them could be a surprise for you that they played in Barcelona’s academy during their careers.
This article will talk about players that do not belong to Barcelona and have left the club permanently. This is the part 1 out of 3 of these series. This article will discuss the more famous and known talents that came through La Masia.
Xavi Simons (2003)
Xavi Simons played in La Masia for 9 years, before leaving for PSG to look for a sporting project best for him after ending his Cadet A stage. While in Barcelona he caught the attention of culers, due to massive hype on social media, being called the next big thing in La Masia. Moving away to PSG allowed to him work on his weaknesses. Last season he impressed at UEFA Youth League contributing with 5 goals and 6 assists in just 12 games. After his impressive display, Xavi wanted to look for a project to develop further, so he joined PSV, with PSG keeping a cheap buy-back option of just €6m.
This season for PSV he contributed with 22 goals and 12 assists in all competitions, while also being the team’s top scorer in Eredivisie with 19 goals. Now it needs to be seen whether he returns to PSG or stays under the new PSV coach. Maybe in the near future, we could see him return to Barcelona and play with his best friend Alejandro Balde.
Takefusa Kubo (2001)
Take Kubo joined La Masia in 2011, where he spent 4 years before he was forced to leave the club, as Barcelona were found to have violated FIFA’s international transfer policy for players under the age of 18. The player then returned to Japan, becoming the youngest player in the history of the J League to debut and also scoring just at the age of 15. When he turned 18, he was looking to return to Europe, with Barcelona being interested, however at the time the club was not willing to pay a €1m salary for the young Japanese player.
Meanwhile, another Spanish giant Real Madrid did so, eventually signing him. The winger shortly left on loan to Mallorca after signing for Real Madrid, where he impressed generating a lot of noise. But after returning from loan, Real Madrid did not see him stay and he spent the last few seasons on loan at Villarreal, Getafe before returning to Mallorca. And eventually last summer he was signed by Real Sociedad for €6.5m. This season he looks to be back to his best, scoring 9 goals, and providing an assist 9 times in all competitions. While still only 22, Take remains one of the best prospects in La Liga.
Arnau Martínez (2003)
Arnau played in La Masia from the age of 7 until he was 13. He left the club as it seemed by the club that he was not good enough. From there he joined Hospitalet and just a few years later he joined Girona, where he is still playing football. Despite leaving the academy he didn’t lose contact with his former teammates, especially with Xavi Simons and Alejandro Balde as he was hanging out with them quite a lot. Arnau even played some friendly games for Barcelona, despite not being a La Masia player. The young defender made his debut for Girona in 2020 in their Copa del Rey game against Segoviana, playing as a left-back. Since then, he remained in the dynamics of the first team.
At the age of 17, he made his debut in La Liga Smartbank as a centre-back. Being officially promoted to Girona’s first team in the 21/22 season, the defender played a pivotal role in their promotion to La Liga, providing 2 goals and 6 assists as a right-back. In his first season in La Liga, he provided 3 goals and 4 assists at the top level, and he was linked with a return to Barcelona before eventually being ruled out by the club. However, you never know and we could see him return in the future.
Sergio Gómez (2000)
Sergio joined La Masia from Espanyol in 2010. Where he played at the academy for 8 years. In 2018 Sergio was not convinced by the club’s sporting proposal, he left the club to Dortmund, with the German club paying a small fee of around €3m. He spent a few years at Dortmund, while also being on loan at Huesca, before leaving permanently for Anderlecht, where he enjoyed some of his best football.
Starting as an attacking midfielder or a winger, he was converted into an attacking fullback. And has exceeded expectations under Vincent Kompany, where in the 21/22 season he picked up 7 goals and 15 assists for Anderlecht. His explosion caught the attention of Man City, and he was signed by the English club for €13m. Despite not having the best first season in England, Sergio remains a great talent. We can expect a much better Sergio in the 23/24 season.
Juan Miranda (2000)
Juan joined La Masia in 2014 from Real Betis. He made his FC Barcelona in 2018 in Copa del Rey against Cultural Leonesa under Valverde. Also the season he made his debut in the Champions League against Spurs. At the time Barcelona had 2 interesting left-back Marc Cucurella and Juan Miranda. Cucurella was ruled out by Valverde and was eventually sold, as the club trusted Miranda. However not being able to impress he joined Schalke on loan, but barely played and in 2020 he was loaned out to his childhood club Real Betis. Finally, Juan managed to enjoy some playing time at the top level contributing with 2 goals in 2 assists. Real Betis saw enough and decided to negotiate with Barcelona to bring back their former academy player.
In the summer of 2021, he was signed by Real Betis, with Barcelona keeping 40% of a future sale and the right of first refusal. With the departure of former La Masia player Alex Moreno to Aston Vila from Real Betis, Juan will see his minute significantly increased to cement his starting position. This season he ended with 3 goals and 5 assists in all competitions.
Abel Ruiz (2000)
Abel joined La Masia in 2015 from Valencia. A born scorer he was scoring goals for fun for every youth team he played for. For Spain U17-U21 he scored 51 goals in 80 games, while also contributing with at least 10 assists. Abel has helped Spanish Youth National teams win Euro U17, Euro U19, and Mediterranean Games with his goals. At the Euro U17, he received the silver boot for his goal-scoring ability. He also helped Spain get 2nd in the World Cup U17, where he won the bronze boot. Abel made his official debut for FC Barcelona in 2019 against Getafe as he replaced Coutinho.
After being promoted to Barcelona B, Abel was not able to achieve numbers similar to that in youth football and was sold to Braga for €8m and with a buy-back option of around €40m in 2020. So far in the last 3 years, he scored 30 goals and 16 assists for the Portuguese club. Of which, 12 goals and 7 assists came this season. In recent interviews when asked about Barcelona Abel doesn’t hold back about his love for the club and says that he will never close the doors for his return.
Juan Larios (2004)
Barcelona acquires quite a few talents from Sevilla and Juan Larios was one of them as he joined the club in 2016. But only 4 years, he left the club as Man City offered a very promising sporting project to the player. Man City is well known for being interested in La Masia players as in recent times they signed players like Eric Garcia, Adrian Bernabe and others, while also wanting to sign Nico Gonzalez.
Juan didn’t manage to make a debut for the first team of Man City. But that didn’t stop Southampton to pay €7m to acquire this very talented left-back. He made his EPL debut on the 2nd Matchday of EPL against Aston Villa, however, just a few months later he suffered a serious injury that kept him out for most of the season. Let’s hope Juan will be able to return to his best and help the club to return to the Premier League after they were relegated to Championship.
Ilaix Moriba (2003)
Ilaix was always seen as a big talent at the youth level. And this is why Barcelona signed him in 2010 from their city rivals Espanyol. Even in La Masia, he played against players older than him. Those who watched him remember his incredible hat trick against Real Madrid U18, while Ilaix was still 15. Barcelona made him one of the highest-paid academy players in its history to keep him at the club. Just a few years later in 2021, he made his debut for FC Barcelona. On his La Liga debut against Alaves, he started the game as a midfielder and picked up an assist. He ended that season with 1 goal and 3 assists for the first team.
However, his glory at the club did not last long. When it came the time to renew the contract, the club and the player’s entourage had many issues blaming the other side. While the agency, with which Ilaix signed just before his renewal negotiations took place became the winner as they earned a massive commission to bring him to RB Leipzig for €16m.
Just after 6 months at the German club he was loaned to Valencia. There he spent the last few seasons. In 46 games for Valencia, he picked up only 1 goal and 3 assists. He achieved these numbers for Barcelona only in 672 minutes of playing time. And by the looks of it, he won’t play for Leipzig as the club doesn’t want him. Just recently Ilaix returned to his former agency that helped his sign his first professional contract at 16. A move seems to be imminent of which Barcelona receive 10% of a future sale by Leipzig.
Oriol Soldevila (2001)
Oriol joined La Masia in 2018 from Cornella and he spent only a few years, before leaving for England. The attacking midfielder, who also can play as a winger joined Birmingham City U21 side. There he did well in the few years he spent there. In 19 games for the English club, he picked up 4 goals and 5. In the summer of 2022, he decided to return to Spain and he joined CF Intercity in the third division.
Oriol caught the attention of many clubs after he scored a hat-trick against Barcelona in Copa del Rey. Becoming the first one to do so in many years. After his heroics, Barcelona was interested in signing him in January to the subsidiary, however, it did not happen. After 6 goals and 6 assists in the 22/23 season. Oriol looks to be on a move with Real Madrid Castilla, Barça Atlètic and other clubs. But by the looks of it, he won’t be joining one of the El Clasico teams.
Robert Navarro (2002)
Robert was considered a big loss for La Masia when he departed. Despite being born in Barcelona he joined the club only in 2013. He joined from Osasuna as he moved there with his parents. The attacking midfielder also played as a winger was seen as a big talent in La Masia. Therefore, it was a big surprise that in 2018 he left for Monaco.
Later it was revealed that he was not convinced by Barcelona’s sporting project. Soon after joining Robert made his debut for Monaco’s first team. And at the age of 16, he became the youngest debutant at that point in time. However, only 1 year late he joined Real Sociedad B, where he picked up 14 goals and 10 assists. In 2022 he was officially promoted to the first team. This season he didn’t have a lot of playing time. But he still managed to score 6 goals and get 2 assists in just 874 minutes. The future looks bright for Robert Navarro and it will be interesting to follow his future in Spain.
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