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Promising Players in Barcelona's Youth System to Keep an Eye on

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 07:  A Barcelona jacket hangs from a bunk bed inside one of the bedrooms of the youth players inside La Masia at the Camp Nou stadium on April 7, 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. La Masia is the heart of the Barcelona's youth system and a residence for young players that had to leave their home behind to train at FC Barcelona in both a sporting and intelectual way. Coach Josep Guardiola and players such as Lionel Messi, Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta have lived at La Masia to become the stars of today's game. Because of the succes the name La Masia is now simply used to refer to the Barcelona youth players.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistJuly 31, 2013

Following Josep Guardiola's successful integration of a number of players from La Masia in the Barcelona first team during their recent success, expectations have risen on the next batch of promising teenagers.

Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol were already crucial parts when Pep took the reigns, but he added the likes of Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodriguez from the B team.

He also gave debuts to the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Cristian Tello, Gerard Deulofeu, Marc Bartra and others; many of whom are anticipated to have exciting seasons in 2013/14, either at Barca or elsewhere.

Despite the success of the club's famed youth system, it remains important not to put too much expectation on the young shoulders of the next generation coming through. However, here are eight players—none over 18—to look out for in the future:

 

Sergi Samper

A deep-lying midfielder, filling a similar position to Busquets, Sergi Samper's reading of the game belies his 18 years; it's anticipated he'll make a big impact in the B team next season.

He's already starred in the Next Generation Series—which saw The Daily Mail's Sami Mokbel link him with Arsenal and Manchester City—and has featured regularly in the first team's preseason over the past few weeks.

 

Jean Marie Dongou

Jean Marie Dongou scored two goals in Barcelona's 7-0 win over Valerenga recently, and if he's to fulfill the praise which follows him, he will start to score on a regular basis for the B team next term.

The 18-year-old scored six times in 31 appearances last time out, although the majority were made from the bench. A stocky forward, the Cameroonian arrived in Catalunya through the Samuel Eto'o foundation when he was 13.

 

Alejandro Grimaldo

Alejandro Grimaldo is rarely seen with people his own age. The 17-year-old left-back has already appeared for Spain's Under 21s and would have been a key player at the Under-20 World Cup this summer were his season not cruelly ended by a knee injury in February.

Barcelona, some might say, controversially, stole him away from Valencia in 2008, and with 25 Segunda appearances already, he is one of the club's hottest prospects.

 

Adama Traore

Born in Catalunya but of Malian descent, Adama Traore, 17, is a tricky winger who was used as an impact sub for Spain in their unsuccessful Under-19 European Championships campaign this summer.

 

Sandro Ramirez

Like Traore, Sandro Ramirez was involved with Spain U19s this summer. He plays as a central forward and has impressed in the Next Gen Series, however, there isn't yet massive excitement about how far he could go.

 

Frank Bagnack

Frank Bagnack is the second inclusion who arrived at Barcelona courtesy of the Samuel Eto'o foundation. Bagnack, 18, has featured for the club in preseason already, and the Cameroonian defender is expected to be a regular in the B team this coming season.

 

Rodrigo Tarin

A 6'1" central defender, Rodrigo Tarin is a leader and has captained both his club and his country at youth levels. Having only recently turned 17, he's unlikely to be making a name for himself too soon, but high hopes hang over his future.

 

Juan Manuel Garcia

Born in 1997, Juan Manuel Garcia is a 16-year-old defender who has been capped by Spain at the U16 and the U17 level. Barcelona will be hoping to expose him to the Next Gen Series in 2013/14.

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