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Bartomeu revels in Barca youth triumph

FC Barcelona defender Carles Puyol spoke about the future of the club as he prepares to leave in the summer.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu paid tribute to the club’s La Masia academy after the Catalans won the inaugural UEFA Youth League on Monday.

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Barca beat Benfica 3-0 in the final in Nyon, with forward Munir El Haddadi scoring twice, including a late lob over the opposition keeper hit from inside his own half.

The win comes as Barca continue to fight against the one-year transfer ban imposed on them after FIFA found ruled the club had broken youth-transfer regulations, with much of the appeal reportedly based around showing that players who join the academy receive the best possible all-round education.

Barcelona players celebrate winning the UEFA Youth League after beating Benfica in the final.
Barcelona players celebrate winning the UEFA Youth League after beating Benfica in the final.

None of the Juvenil A players who featured against Benfica were included in the FIFA investigation, which focused on even younger players brought to the club from all around the globe. Of the 14 players who played in the final, there were seven born in Spain, five from Cameroon (where the club has close links with an academy set up by Chelsea striker Samuel Eto’o), and one each from Argentina and Morocco.

Blaugrana chief Bartomeu was present to see his club awarded the first Lennart Johansson trophy, and told AS afterwards that the win showed the great work being done in his club’s youth system.

“This victory shows the success of La Masia,” Bartomeu said. “Barca’s approach is to form players and we want to reach the highest heights. At Barca we take care of education. We are doing a magnificent job. I congratulate everyone who is involved in the hard work put in at Barca’s youth system.”

Madrid-born El Haddadi finished as the competition’s top scorer with 11 goals, while Catalan-born winger Adama Traore -- who made his first-team debut earlier this season -- also starred.

Bartomeu predicted that many of the players on show would go on to be senior professionals, either at the Camp Nou or elsewhere.

“We have a lot of talent in this team,” he said. “Our talent won out, we have great players, we saw incredible plays and great goals. These players need to stay in training, play and go up to Barca B. They play our style of football. Many can end up in our first team, and many others will be professionals elsewhere.”

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