So far, my Emulating La Masia series has looked at various factors that help you in developing your youngsters. However for all the promise of youth development and improved standards, the development of players is the ‘easy part’, it is integrating them into the first team which matters most. Teams like Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and ironically enough in recent times Barcelona snap up top talents on a global scale and excel in various youth competitions, but in my eyes youth development is not about winning competitions, it’s about preparing players for professional football and I cannot remember too many academy players breaking into the first team in recent years at any of these sides.
Although the academy teams of these clubs can be regarded as being amongst Europe’s best and in terms of facilities and coaching they most certainly are, what is the point of having a youth academy if you do not attempt to produce players for your first team? If their youth development efforts are so impressive then it begs the question as to why there are so few youth academy prospects breaking into the first team.
Clubs need to find a way to bleed more youngsters into their team, to bridge the gap between youth and senior football much more effectively and as sides like Chelsea and Man City are showing, for all the money spent on facilities, coaching, and wages if they cannot integrate these young players into the first team squad then what really is the point? In terms of this article, we will look at the influence of first team football on the development of our youth players.