Former Spain boss Javier Clemente holds fears over the long-term future of Ansu Fati and Barcelona’s other young stars.
With the financial climate tight, the Catalans have been forced to turn to La Masia for reinforcements in the first team.
Ansu is among those to have distinguished himself alongside Lionel Messi et al, but the teenager now faces an extended spell on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury.
Clemente, who took charge of Spain between 1992 and 1998, and has extensive experience in the Spanish top flight, is fearful that too much first-team football could be detrimental to Barca’s academy players – largely because of the pressure put on them by the media.
“Look at Ansu Fati, who with one strong blow has fried his knee,” he told Radio Marca. “You have to teach them to play. You have to give young players consistency and game, but from there for them to make the headlines… some of them may regret it.”
The race for the Spanish title looks open this year, with Barca having made a poor start under Ronald Koeman and Real Madrid not their usual powerful selves.
Instead, it is Real Sociedad who lead the way on 23 points, three clear of Atletico Madrid on 20, although the capital side have two matches in hand.
Clemente has had spells in charge of both teams in the past and feels Atleti have a shot at the title.
“They’re not the big favourites, but they’re among the favourites,” Clemente said. “They have a strong team but with the Champions League and the cup, I don’t know if they will have enough if they pick up injuries.
“If they are fit, they are a candidate to win the title. Just like Sevilla.
“Atleti will be flattered to hear they’re among the favourites but they don’t want to have that pressure.”
This weekend in Spain, Diego Simeone’s side travel to Valencia, while Real Madrid host Alaves on Saturday and Barca tackle Osasuna at Camp Nou.