Guiu makes his debut and scores at 34 seconds. Yamal breaks records for precocity. Fermín makes an impact against Shakhtar. Xavi has named his squad for the last Champions League match. Ancelotti has named only one player for the trip to Braga: Piñeiro, the third goalkeeper. The role of the academy in this afternoon's derby is uneven. While La Masia is emerging strongly this season, La Fábrica has yet to generate assets in the Bernabeu squad. This season, Xavi has completed his call-ups with 11 players from the second tier, four of whom have made their debut in the elite. Ancelotti has called up seven, but none of them have taken the step of quality.

In the current Barça squad, in addition to the newcomers, Fermín, Yamal (today he may be the youngest to play in a Clasico), Guiu and Casadó, there are six players from the mother group: Araujo, Iñaki Peña, Gavi, Balde, Romeu and Sergi Roberto. In this section, Real Madrid present Nacho, Carvajal, Lucas Vázquez and Fran García. Among those pushing from Valdebebas are midfielder Nico Paz, who has already done the preseason, and youth striker José Antonio Reyes, son of the footballer who died in an accident, who has already signed a professional contract.

This imbalance in the contributions of grassroots football responds to the urgencies of each club. When entities have economic difficulties, they resort more to juveniles, but it is also true that there are cycles and litters. Miguel Pardeza, a member of the Quinta del Buitre and former Real Madrid Sporting Director, stresses that in order to explain what is happening it is necessary to focus on different angles: "My impression is that there are no universal reasons to establish dominance of one academy over another, this is a matter of circumstances and contexts. From my experience I would say that Real Madrid's youth academy, in general, has been and is more fruitful when it comes to bringing players to the professional world, while Barcelona's youth academy has always had a more local profile. However, Madrid have had great homegrown moments: Quinta del Buitre, Raúl, Guti, Casillas and before that Castilla that reached the Copa del Rey final in the 80s. Right now, without going any further, there are academy players who are in the national team and have an important participation in the first team".

The former international striker who also played for Zaragoza believes that the primacy of Barça's academy players could be a consequence of the current economic situation: "Why is Barcelona taking more players out now? I don't know for sure, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the club, for a couple of years now, has been in a restructuring process, and that is always favourable to the incorporation of players from the lower categories."

Juan Carlos Unzué, former assistant coach of Barcelona and now sidelined due to ALS, explains that the growth of La Masia's academy players is based on three pillars: "I think that the success of La Masia's players has three reasons. The first is that the style of play is clear throughout grassroots football, always in relation to how it is played in the first team. The second is that the coaches who have been most successful in the first team have been Barça players, such as Luis Enrique, Guardiola or Xavi, the last two have lived the experience of La Masia. The third lies in the economic limitations of the club in recent years, which has caused them to look more at the reserve teams."

The former assistant to Luis Enrique at Barça does not hide the value of Valdebebas' promises: "At Real Madrid I don't know the exact reasons why many players don't appear. The quality is very clear, but the demands of the first team have made them leave the house to look for more established players. The quality, I insist, is there because in many cases these boys have left Real Madrid and have shown their performance and their abilities in other teams".


Economic constraints relaunch the virtues of the subsidiaries, but also the leadership and philosophy of the project. "It's indisputable that the coaches have an influence on the jump of the academy players. While Xavi, Luis Enrique, Vilanova and Guardiola undoubtedly opted for young players, Madrid have been more reluctant. It's also a question of identity, it's said that now Barcelona turn to them because of the economic crisis, but they also did it when the accounts were more favourable," says a former Real Madrid academy player who prefers to remain anonymous.

While Barcelona promote youngsters on their own stage, Real Madrid stands out for giving luster to other teams. Together with Benfica, it is the club that has raised the most money in the last 10 seasons from the sale of subsidiaries, around 400 million. Barca are left at 252, according to an eToro report based on data from Transfermarkt. Arribas, Dotor, Blanco, Latasa, Miguel Gutiérrez and Gila are some of the latest players who have made a living away from the Bernabéu stadium.

The exodus boosts the coffers and also the brand image. Real Madrid's youth academy leads the ranking of clubs that contribute the most players to the five major European leagues, according to a report prepared by the CIES Football Observatory. Currently, in the main championships there are 44 footballers trained at La Fábrica. Second is Barcelona, with 40, followed by Olympique Lyon, with 31; Valencia, with 29, and PSG, with 28. To compile this classification, CIES counted players who have played for a club for at least three seasons and between the ages of 15 and 21.

Specialists in youth management say that in the training of players it is necessary to have "philosophy, patience and knowledge". "You have to control the times well. On many occasions, when it is seen that the youngsters do not have space in the first team, they are looked for a way out outside. The truth is that Real Madrid's reserve teams are very well received in the market because they are good and because it has been shown that the boys of the Madrid club have more faculties to play in all systems and positions, something that does not happen with those of Barcelona, who have been trained with a very marked system". adds the former Real Madrid player.

Specialists in youth academies also maintain that the usual trend in the most powerful clubs has now changed: "The boys, if they don't see it possible to move to the first team, leave. Before, players from the provinces came to Madrid, now the opposite happens, they go abroad to find a better future," they warn.

The quarry of the classic, a springboard to alleviate the crisis and an excellent market value.

  • Pep Guardiola
  • Luis Enrique
  • Real Madrid
  • FC Barcelona