Dating as far back as the late 1970s, Barcelona's success has been built on a strong contingent from their youth academy. The opening of the La Masia training facility sparked an upturn in home-grown talent and it was all down to the innovation of Johan Cruyff, whose idea to turn a disused building that masqueraded as club headquarters into a conveyor belt of Catalan stars has reaped rewards for some years now.
From Guillermo Amor to Pep Guardiola and more recently Lionel Messi, La Masia has always produced players that have performed for Barcelona on the biggest stage – and that's without mentioning Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.
In recent years, the emphasis on bringing through players from La Masia has been strengthened because of Barcelona's financial difficulties. Deloitte and The Economist report that Barca's debt has now reached a staggering €460m, diminishing their power in the transfer market. In fact, Catalan based newspaper Sport suggest that Barcelona can't afford to buy a centre-back this summer and will instead look to promote from the B team in the shape of Andreu Fontas and Marc Bartra.
But such is the need for money that they've resorted to selling some of their young players in order to fund moves for star names as they look to fend off title challengers Real Madrid. Some players like Giovani dos Santos and Ruben Rochina have left Camp Nou for good, but they've also taken advantage of buy-back clauses. The sales of Jeffren Suarez, Bojan Krkic and Oriol Romeu added some instant funds to the bank balance but with the option to buy the players back if or when Barcelona overcome their money issues.
Speculation is rife this summer that some players could be sold in the same way or even loaned out for experience. A few of the players could find their way back to the club like Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas have, but for others the dream of being a Barca hero will be over. Here are some of the players that could move on this summer.
Jonathan dos Santos
Brother of aforementioned Giovani, Jonathan dos Santos has struggled to make a real impact at Barcelona. Now aged 22 and with just 19 first team appearances to his name, it may be time for the Mexican midfielder to move on. Real Betis and Sporting Lisbon are teams that are rumoured to be interested in him and it's doubtful that Barca will insert a buy-back clause in any deal considering how little he's been used and the abundance of midfielders at the club.
The 20-year-old winger burst onto the scene at the back end of last season due to a lack of available wingers. He featured 22 times for the first team, scoring seven goals and impressed with a directness that few players in the team have. His pace and trickery has attracted interest from around Europe, mainly from Liverpool and Atletico Madrid. Although Barca are asking for €7m, there will almost certainly be an option for Barca to buy the winger back if they do choose to sell, but a loan deal looks far more likely. Tello showed that he's a little bit raw during his appearances and gaining more experience would almost certainly aid his development.
Roberto has long been touted as 'The next big thing' at Barcelona, but it's been tough for him to get in the side with Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Fabregas, Thiago Alcantara and Seydou Keita in the squad. His career has stalled somewhat but he has remained a key part of the Barcelona B team that has risen to the second tier of Spanish Football. There has been one main suitor for Roberto over the last 12 months, and that's Champions League winners Chelsea. Like Romeu, Barcelona would surely want the option to bring Roberto back but it does seem like the midfielder wants first-team action. Bitter rivals Real Madrid have also been linked with a surprise move.
Bartra or Fontas could also be moved on if they do manage to bring in a centre-back this summer, but they may be needed more than ever this season. This strategy of selling youth has worked so far, and allowed Barca to bring in Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez last summer, whilst it shows just how good the products of La Masia truly are. But, they are ultimately selling their young talent in a bid for instant trophie and how long is that sustainable?