Riqui Puig

Pogba? De Jong? Barça need to focus on the academy

OPINION

The transfer window's only just closed but the rumours for 2019 have already started. Incredible but true. Without the time to know how good Barcelona will be this season, there's speculation about who will come in next. They say Paul Pogba could come in January and that the club want to tie down Frenkie de Jong for next summer. It's usually bad advice to rush things. It's not time to talk about signings. All that does is raise the price of the targets and create nerves in the dressing room. Barça have signed off on a great squad for the season, better than last year. It's needs time and confidence to progress. 

Now, the sporting department are in a period where there's less to do, a period where the manager and the players must take centre stage. The club must push the academy, too, so that it can return to being the heart and soul of the first team. TImes change quickly and Barça need systems, guidelines and contracts to stop the next generations changing scenery due to a lack of hope of a future at Camp Nou. It has to be done intelligently. Make Barça B a trampoline for the first team, hatch a plan for loans for players that need to play every week at the highest level possible. 

Don't talk about Pogba, De Jong or Adrien Rabiot until next year. Take a bet on academy, academy and academy instead. It's time for a strategy that fits in with the modern day. It needs to be analysed why one of the best players at the U17 World Cup, Sergio Gomes, is now playing for Borussia Dortmund. What are the reasons behind Mboula signing for Monaco? How did Manchester City convince Eric Garcia to leave Barcelona? 

The general manager, Pep Segura, has an important job. The players these days don't conform with promises or sweeteners. There needs to be a plan which offers them various, attractive ways to progress. The loss of a number of promising players has raised the alarm. Abel Ruiz did renew, despite the sirens which were ringing in relation to interest from abroad. Miranda has also decided to stay, his first team opening compensation. But there's still a lot of work to be done yet.  

The academy will have more and more importance in the future. The clubs that have the best schools will have an advantage. Barça are pioneers with La Masia and they cannot lose that advantage. It's time to designate money and coaches to ensure that two players are going up to the first team each season with the possibility of earning a starting spot in the short-term. Barça also need to know the right time to capture other young stars around Spain. Losing Marco Asensio was an expensive error. A star of the future slipped the club by, while at the same time signing for their biggest rival. It's time to go back to the academy and to work better within the Spanish market. 

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