From Stoke to LA: Where have Barcelona's former starlets ended up?

The heirs to the Messi generation have had to move elsewhere to make their names

BY Raf Diallo 18:27 Tuesday 19 January 2016, 18:27 19 Jan 2016

AS Roma Serbian forward Bojan Krkic eyes the ball during a Serie A soccer match between AS Roma and Fiorentina at the Artemio Franchi stadium in Florence, Italy Sunday, Dec. 4 2011. (AP Photo/Fabrizio Giovannozzi)

When Barcelona defeated Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League final, they famously did it with a starting team containing seven products of their own academy.

Given the productivity of La Masia, their famous training school, it was expected that they would continue to churn out a production line of tiki taka masters or buy in young players.

But in truth, that has not been the case, as Barça spent big money on the likes of Neymar and Luis Suárez to supplement a world class squad and moved slightly away from the style which they exemplified at the height of the Pep Guardiola era.

All the while, much of the post-Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets generation have often had to move elsewhere.

For example, their former striker Keirrison has found himself going on loan to Buriram United of Thailand this week, just two years on from his Barcelona exit.

Image: Keirrison da Souza Carneiro points to the Barcelona crest as he signs for the club in 2009. MANU FERNANDEZ / AP/Press Association Images

The 27-year-old Brazilian, who joined the Catalan club from Palmeiras in 2009 for about €15 million, was tipped for big things but spent five years out on loan before returning to Brazil with Curitiba.

He is far from the only one of that Barça generation to fall short of expectations.

Bojan Krkic

At least we know he can do it on a wet, windy night in Stoke, but the current Potters attacker was tipped for bigger and better things as he emerged from the Barcelona youth ranks where he plundered goal after goal ... after goal (not far off 1,000 all told).

Still 25, the one-time Spain cap was launched into first team action at the age of 17 towards the end of Frank Rijkaard's time in charge, breaking Lionel Messi's record as the youngest player to take to the field for the club.

Initially, he showed promise by scoring 12 goals in 48 appearances in the 2007-08 season.

But his form never exploded in his next three campaigns at the Nou Camp and by the time he left in 2011, he had fallen out with Guardiola.

"The relationship with Pep wasn't a very good one," he commented in the book Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning and his time after Barça initially proved difficult, with unsuccessful loan spells at Roma under Luis Enrique and then Milan and Ajax.

Finding himself at Mark Hughes' Stoke at the start of last season, he can be regarded as a success after netting 10 goals in 38 games over the past 18 months, with the only major blow being a major knee injury which hampered the second half of that debut campaign.

Either way, Stoke couldn't have been more far removed from life at the Nou Camp.

Oriol Romeu

Now at Southampton, where he is getting game-time, the defensive midfielder was tipped to be a successor to Sergio Busquets.

Then he made the error that many young players have made by joining a Chelsea team that does not have a good reputation for giving up-and-coming players a real chance.

Image:  Adam Davy / PA Archive/PA Images

After making that move in 2011, he made just 33 appearances in four years on the books at Stamford Bridge, spending the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons on loan at Valencia and Stuttgart respectively, before finding a permanent home at Southampton last summer.

Giovani dos Santos

A star for Mexico at the past two World Cups, Dos Santos came through the academy but never made a significant impact on the first team.

The 2007-08 season was the only campaign in which he was part of first team plans despite a burgeoning reputation and an almost instinctive understanding with Ronaldinho, before signing for Tottenham and flopping badly.

On the fringes at Spurs, he spent most of the period between 2008 and 2011 on loan at an assortment of clubs including Ipswich, Galatasaray and Racing Santander.

Image: Los Angeles Galaxy's Giovani Dos Santos, left, takes a free kick next to teammate Steven Gerrard. Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP/Press Association Images

He did find his feet again at Villarreal after joining the La Liga club from Real Mallorca in 2013, but after a couple of decent seasons there, the Mexico international finds himself at Los Angeles Galaxy at the age of just 26, alongside Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane.

Cristian Tello

Still 24-years-old and on the books at Barcelona, the winger has not played for his parent club since 2014 when he was first shipped out on loan to FC Porto, where he still remains.

The one-time Spain cap got a significant level of game-time for Barca in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, but it appears to be a case of out of sight, out of mind in Portugal where he has been respectable rather than explosive.

According to some reports, Liverpool are interested in bringing him to Anfield, before he can seal a move to Fiorentina.

Either way, it doesn't look like he remains high up in Barca's plans.

Isaac Cuenca

Tello's fellow winger played in 30 Barcelona games during the 2011-12 season but has been off the radar since.

Sent to Ajax in the following season, permanent moves to Deportivo de la Coruña and then Turkish side Bursaspor have since followed.


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