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Barcelona fail to name academy graduate in starting line-up for first time in 16 years

Ernesto Valverde's decision is further proof La Masia is failing them, having not produced any top talent in recent years

Barcelona failed to name a single academy player in their starting line-up for the first time in 16 years.

Ernesto Valverde wrung the changes for the midweek clash against against Celta Vigo with the Copa del Rey final against Sevilla coming up on Saturday.


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Ousmane Dembele signed for Barcelona in deal which could be worth up to £138m

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Ousmane Dembele signed for Barcelona in deal which could be worth up to £138m

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On the bench were La Masia graduates Lionel Messi and Sergi Roberto, as well as the stellar names such as Luis Suarez and Samuel Umtiti.

Valverde started with: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Nelson Semedo, Yerry Mina, Thomas Vermaelen, Lucas Digne, Paulinho, Andre Gomes, Ousmane Dembele, Denis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Paco Alcacer.

Undoubtedly a strong side, but not one player graduated from Barcelona’s La Masia, on which they pride themselves so much.

Messi and Roberto did make late substitute appearances, though the latter only lasted 11 minutes before being sent off.

Barcelona have spent big money to sign players such as Paulinho in recent seasons

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Barcelona have spent big money to sign players such as Paulinho in recent seasons

Carles Rexach was last Barcelona manager not to start an academy player

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Carles Rexach was last Barcelona manager not to start an academy player

Jordi Alba, who started his youth career at Barcelona before moving on, was an unused sub, but Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta were nowhere to be seen.

Last season, Busquets was the only former La Masia star named in the line-up for a match against Alaves, which set alarm bells ringing at the lack of talent coming through.

It is a far cry from the clash with Levante, which saw an entire XI of academy graduates for 61 minutes in 2012.

At least one academy player had started every match since April 6, 2002 Carles Rexach was in charge at Athletic Bilbao.

(From Left) Barcelona's Turkish midfielder Arda Turan, Barcelona's midfielder Denis Suarez, Barcelona's Argentinian defender Javier Mascherano, Barcelona's forward Paco Alcacer, Barcelona's Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, Barcelona's defender Aleix Vidal, Barcelona's French defender Jeremy Mathieu, Barcelona's French defender Lucas Digne, Barcelona's Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic, Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar and Barcelona's midfielder Sergio Busquets line up before the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 10, 2016. / AFP / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)

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Sergio Busquets was the only academy graduate starting against Alaves last season

On the day, the team was: Roberto Bonano, Michael Reiziger, Philippe Christanval, Abelardo, Franceso Coco, Fabio Rochemback, Phillip Cocu, Luis Enrique, Rivaldo, Javier Saviola and Marc Overmars.

While it is clear Valverde was simply making changes ahead of the biggest game left in their season, this will be disappointing news for Barcelona fans.

In 2011, they won the Champions League with seven academy graduates in their starting line-up — as well as Pep Guardiola as manager.

Finale de la Champions League a Wembley FC Barcelone vs Manchester United (Photo by liewig christian/Corbis via Getty Images)

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Barcelona had nine academy graduates in squad for 2011 Champs Lge final

But there has been little talent emerging since, instead the club have focused mainly on spending huge sums of money on transfers.

Carles Alena and Abel Ruiz are big talents currently starring in La Masia, but both have barely had a look-in over the past two seasons.

Last night, Barca held onto their unbeaten record with a 2-2 draw.


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