The outgoing manager has given first team opportunities to no fewer than 22 players in his four years at FC Barcelona
The debutants in the ‘Pep Team’
2008/09: Busquets, Thiago, Xavi Torres, Muniesa, Botía and Abraham
2009/10: Fontàs, Dos Santos, Soriano, Gai Assulin and Bartra
2010/11: Oriol Romeu, Sergi Gómez, Miño, Nolito, Montoya and Sergi Roberto
2011/12: Cuenca, Deulofeu, Rafinha, Tello and Riverola
It is the dream of any of Barça’s youth players to finally get to play with the first team. They work for years to see that desire fulfilled, and under Pep Guardiola, more than the usual number of players have achieved such an illustrious target. Now that his time as manager is drawing to a close, Guardiola can feel proud of helping no fewer than 22 players towards football at the very highest level.
At least five a season
Guardiola knew all about the potential in the FC Barcelona youth ranks after managing the B team for a year. Hence, in his very first season he used all of Sergio Busquets, Thiago, Xavi Torres, Muniesa, Botía and Abraham. In the 2009/10 season, Fontàs, Jonathan dos Santos, Soriano, Gai Assulin and Bartra joined the list, while in 2010/11 the debutants were Oriol Romeu, Sergi Gómez, Miño, Nolito, Montoya and Sergi Roberto. In his final season in charge, Guardiola selected all of Cuenca, Deulofeu, Rafinha, Tello and Sergi Roberto for official matches.
Four of those players are now part of the first team, namely Busquets, Thiago, Fontàs and Cuenca, while Bartra, Muniesa, Jonathan dos Santos and Montoya could be following them very soon. That’s without forgetting other players that have gone on to play for other professional teams: Oriol Romeu (Chelsea), Nolito (Benfica), Botía (Sporting de Gijón), Xavi Torres (Levante) and Jonathan Soriano (FC Red Bull Salzburg), among others.
The players know that one of the most important factors in making the grade is having a first team manager who is willing to use the B team as a source of new recruits. That is why in the last Barça B game of the season at the Miniestadi, the players expressed their gratitude to Guardiola for doing just that by wearing a shirt saying ‘Gràcies Pep’.