La Masia- A stronghold for flourishing talent“The vision of the club is one that puts an emphasis on investment for the future but also investment in youth. It takes huge investment and that is what the owner has geared up his plan to do."
There has been news coming out of the club over the past few weeks, concerning the club’s academy and how Mike Ashley wants to improve the standard of home-grown talent coming up through the ranks. Today there has been the suggestion that Mike Ashley would be willing to spend £1 million per year into building a youth academy in the north eastern town of Newcastle.
A story first came about 3 weeks ago in The Chronicle, just after the January transfer window closed, revealing that Mike Ashley was planning ‘a major revamp at Newcastle United’, with the intention of investing up to £15m into the acquisition of talented youngsters from around Europe.
And now, as revealed by Goal.com, Newcastle United hope to nurture this potential talent at a new, state-of-the-art football academy, similar to that of La Masia, Barcelona’s model academy, famous for cultivating young talent and churning out the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Cesc Fabregas.
Previously, it had been a rule that clubs could only recruit players under 16 who live within 90 minutes drive of the team’s home ground; this resulted in the London-based clubs being able to take advanage of the more plentiful youth systems in the surrounding areas, while Newcastle only had the north-east to contend with. However, these plans present an exciting prospect for the club and I, as I am sure many Newcastle fans would agree, believe that this could be the start of something great; an opportunity to improve not only the quality of our young players, but to also enhance the reputation of the club around the world.
With the likes of Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye coming into the club at relatively low transfer costs, it is evident from how the club has conducted itself in the transfer market over the past 18 months, that a lot of planning is done in the months between the transfer windows. We should take the time now to find some new talent abroad, for it will certainty be worth it in the long term.
Graham Carr has shown his outstanding scouting ability, and has ably picked out very skillful players under the radar of many bigger clubs. With this extra money being injected into the transfer kitty, it gives the club a chance to find players similar to that of Mehdi Abeid and Haris Vuckic, who have flourished under Alan Pardew this season. The manager should be commended for the way in which he has trusted these players, Mehdi and Haris. Many managers would deem it too big a risk to be playing these young men in competitive matches but, as demonstrated by Barcelona, it’s a system which does work and helps the players to adapt to football on a bigger stage early on.
It was with that in mind that Joyce headed to Spain to see for himself the way his Barcelona peers nurture young talent such as Fifa World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez and he could hardly have been more impressed.
“In terms of going across there, what I took from that was how professional the whole set-up was and how the coaches and players wore that Barcelona tracksuits and the Barcelona shirt with pride,” added Joyce.
Newcastle aim to set up an academy which can not only help them to develop their skills, but also to develop them as people, aiding them to recognize the values of the beautiful game; a system strongly adhered to in Spain, predominantly at the Barcelona academy, La Masia. La Masia, holds 58 young boys aged between 11 and 18 years old, who come from all over Spain and other countries such as Cameroon, Brazil, Argentina, Senegal, Nigeria and the Czech Republic. They are “chosen” among thousands of applicants. Those special kids are offered the opportunity to get a formal education alongside practising football on a regular basis, all of that in the same facility.
I am extremely excited by this news and I commend the club for taking this step. Although Mike Ashley has received a lot of criticism during his time as the owner, he has made a wise choice in promoting this system and I will be certainly paying attention to the transfer window dealings this summer. Newcastle should now take their time to find the next Andy Carroll or Tim Krul, and encourage them to join the revolution.