For the uninitiated, #DreamTeen is a wordplay on the name that was given to the legendary Cruyffian team of the 90s: The Dream Team. This is a reflection on the mission of President Joan Laporta to bring glory to FC Barcelona with homegrown talents while playing beautiful football; the kind of football that can earn you a standing ovation at the Santiago Bernabeu. The glimpses of this mission coming to life have been visible since the appointment of club legend Xavi Hernandez.
#DreamTeen: The Inspiration
The inspiration of the #DreamTeen comes not only from the aforementioned Dream Team which had mammoths of the game like Hristov Stoichkov, Eusebio, and Michael Laudrup but also from Pep’s and Rjikaard’s Barca. Pep and Rijkaard both boosted the careers of a lot of young talent and most of them paid off in a way that Barca was reaping their benefits even a decade later. The core that they developed was not only the best team of that time but also in the mid-2010s.
#DreamTeen: La Masia
La Masia was never short of talent and in Xavi returns a manager who is willing to take advantage of the academy where he grew up. He has not been shy to pull up unknown talents like Jutgla, Abde, and Ilias and play them in his starting 11. And his risks are paying off with Abde being a stand-out performer.
Recently Barca had seen a lot of talented youngsters leave the fabled academy for greener pastures. The names include Mauro Icardi, Dani Olmo, and Thiago. The fact that not many La Masia graduates were being promoted to the first team anymore, made these young rising stars leave. This also meant Barca had to look in the transfer market even to replace backup players. Both Joan Laporta and Xavi on several occasions have talked about the academy and how it needs to be trusted more again. The academy not only has the ability to bring quality players but also loyal players who stay at the club for a long time even when it is not a good time.
#DreamTeen: The Team
All the players in the above picture are less than 23 years, ergo Barcelona could easily line this team up against any opposition even 10 years later. And the quality of some of these players even at such a young age is just astounding. The mid-field of Pedri, Nico Gonzalez, and Gavi is already looking like a force to be reckoned with, you add Frenkie De Jong and Riqui Puig in the mix and you have in your hands a midfield that may one day be counted as one of the best ever.
Ronald Araujo is undoubtedly a future FC Barcelona captain, comparisons are already being made to Carles Puyol given his colossal stature and defensive capabilities along with his leadership skills. Eric Garcia and Alejandro Balde have not received a lot of game time under Xavi yet but both have shown promise. Oscar Mingueza is a criminally underrated player, those who question his defensive capabilities need only watch his game against PSG. He is also excellent at carrying the ball forward. His services are best used at center back though. We saw him line up alongside Araujo several times last season and we want to see that happen a lot more often.
Ferran Torres and Ansu Fati are two of the most talented young attackers in the world right now. Both of them have played well for their clubs and country alike. Now both of them will line up together not only for the Spanish National Team but also for Barca. What makes these two more special is that they can line up in multiple positions in the front line. Eze Abde, Ilias Akhomach, and Ferran Jutgla have all received minutes under Xavi’s management and all have made a good impression. They might not be starting 11 material yet but have proven to be quite dependable, particularly Abde.
The biggest advantage of investing in youngsters is that they cost less, especially if they are homegrown. Out of every player mentioned in this article, only Pedri and Ferran Torres are not La Masia graduates. Pedri looks like a player who has been playing the Barca way since he could walk and he just cost Barca 6 million Euros. Torres though cost 55 million Euros, the installment method of payment allows Barca to make the deal happen despite being in a financial meltdown.
This transfer has given the Culers hope that not everything is lost. It has reminded them and the rest of the world that Barca is still a legendary club with high pull. With about 40 million Euros coming from the Griezmann deal next summer along with the potential exits of Lenglet, Coutinho, Dembele, and Dest, the impossible may come true. If Max Verstappen could win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and become World Champion then maybe Barca can bring Erling Brandt Haaland to Camp Nou.
However, if Barca is to regain glory they have to not make the same mistakes again. They cannot let their team be stagnated. Barca made the mistake of not evolving once and they cannot do that again. But apart from that, they should take a page from Ajax and Dortmund’s book. They have a great academy but more often than not they lose great players when they are still in their teens. Instead, they can grow these dream teens and sell them at massive profits. Even at this moment, they have 5 excellent young mid-fielders and at a time only 3 can be fielded in a team. Barca could earn some genuine cash if they sold them. Frenkie De Jong’s future has been called into question but he is the only experienced one among this group so his sale would not be preferred.
#DreamTeen: Author’s Thoughts
As a Barca fan, this is the first time I have seen Barca play with this much effort in a really long time. Players are looking to make something happen, there is a hunger in them. Even our defense is not as terrible as it has been recently. The results are not yet justifying the performances these young stars are giving. A part of the blame is on Marc Andre Ter Stegen who no longer seems to be the impregnable wall he once was. It seems his own confidence has dropped a lot since that 8 goal thrashing in Lisbon. But apart from that this Barcelona side is looking to improve a lot and we Culers finally have a genuine reason to be excited. The performances are coming, results will soon follow. Visca el Catalunya, Visca el Barca.