Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez has voiced concern about the direction of the club’s famous La Masia academy after the departure of director of methodology Joan Vila.
Vila was a key figure behind the development of Barcelona’s passing game, with a number of academy players promoted to the senior team.
Xavi and Carles Puyol have spoken of Vila’s influence, but the 64-year-old left in the summer when the club decided not to renew his contract.
“I am concerned about the situation of the Barcelona academy,” Xavi told Cataluny Radio. I am very worried about the departure of Joan Vila.
“If you take Joan Vila out of Barca, what is Barca doing? This is the question. He’s the person with the most knowledge of Barcelona’s positional play. I don’t understand it.
“Joan is a fount of wisdom of the Barcelona game. [Former physical trainer] Paco Seirullo is another and also Albert Benaiges, who is now at Vissel Kobe with Iniesta. They are people that Barca have to take advantage of.”
Xavi’s comments come at a time when La Masia players are struggling to break into the first team, with Barcelona instead spending big money in the transfer market.
Players including Manchester City defender Eric Garcia, Monaco’s Jordi Mbolua and Borussia Dortmund’s Sergio Gomez have left Barca in recent times.
“In the end the player has the decision to go where he wants, but first they have to value Barca,” Xavi said.
“Before making a decision, I would take the player and ask him if his dream is to play for Borussia Dortmund or Arsenal, or if they want to come back here later. Because if they leave they should know that, if I am here, they won’t have the chance to return.”
Xavi backed 19-year-old midfielder Riqui Puig to become into the next La Masia player to establish himself in the first team following a promising preseason.
“He is very good, he is a great talent, he is Barca,” he said. “You only need to watch him 20 minutes in the youth team to realise that he is different. He needs to be given the opportunity.
“He can succeed. He is destined to succeed. Why will not he not be the next youngster to break through into the first team?”