Player Features

15 debutants in the Xavi era

FC Barcelona is a simply astounding football factory. La Masia never ceases to produce new talent and the first team is the main beneficiary of it all. Xavi Hernández, himself a graduate of the Barça youth system, knows better than anyone what a treasure the club has, and since becoming first team coach he has given debuts to no fewer than 15 different players who came out of La Masia.

The most recent addition to the list was Héctor Fort, who was in the starting line-up for Wednesday’s Champions League game in Antwerp.

Season by season, the fifteen youngsters who have all played their first senior games for the club under the current manager are the following:

2021/22 (5 debutants)
Ilias Akhomach, Ferran Jutglà, Alvaro Sanz, Estanis Pedrola, Mika Mármo

The first debutant under Xavi was in the boss’ first ever game in charge, the derby against Espanyol on November 20, the lucky man being Ilias Akhomach. Next up came Ferran Jutglà against Osasuna, followed by both Álvaro Sanz and Estanis Pedrola in a game away to Mallorca. And there was still time for Mika Mármol to feature against Getafe on May 15.

2022/23 (7 debutants)
Héctor Bellerín, Iñaki Peña, Marc Casadó, Chadi Riad, Ángel Alarcón, Aleix Garrido, Lamine Yama

After returning to Barça after 11 years away, Héctor Bellerín played his first minutes in blaugrana against Cadiz on September 10. Then in the Champions League against Viktoria Plzen, there were first opportunities for Iñaki Peña and Marc Casadó. The goalkeeper played the whole game, while the midfielder came on after 67 minutes. Chadi Riad was the next newbie in a league game away to Osasuna, and the Copa del Rey game with Ceuta brought the first chance for Ángel Alarcón.

Elche were the opposition for Aleix Garrido’s debut, who had risen all the way through the youth ranks, and this was followed by the historic moment when Lamine Yamal came on against Betis on April 29 at the age of just 15 years, 9 months and 16 days to become the youngest player ever to appear for Barça in the league.

2023/24 (3 debutants… so far)
Fermín López, Marc Guiu and Héctor Fort

This season has brought the introductions of Fermín López, Marc Guiu and Héctor Fort. The young midfielder first featured against Villarreal on August 27, and both he and Lamal have become regular members of Xavi’s selections.

Marc Guiu debuted in the game with Athletic Club and amazingly scored the only goal of the match just moments after coming on. And finally we had Hèctor Fort, who last night became the 15th debutant under Xavi.

Six in Antwerp

In fact, including Fort, there were no fewer than six of Xavi’s debutants on the field at some point in Wednesday’s game, namely Lamine Yamal, Fermín López, Marc Guiu, Héctor Fort, Iñaki Peña and Marc Casadó.

And they played an important role, with Iñaki Peña deputising for the injured Ter Stegen in goal, Lamine Yamal providing the assist for Ferran Torres to score the first Barça goal of the evening, and Marc Guiu scoring a brilliant injury time header that sadly didn’t end up earning Barça a draw after the home side quickly struck back at the other end.

In total there have now been 207 first team debutants since La Masia opened its doors for the first time in 1979/80. And may the talent continue to flow out of its doors! Who will be next on the list?

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