Iniesta: Barcelona’s golden generation will never be repeated

The Spanish midfielder suspects the Catalans will struggle to reproduce another crop of youngsters as talented as those he played alongside

Andres Iniesta believes Barcelona’s golden generation of players that included the likes of Lionel Messi and Xavi will never be repeated. 

La Masia proved a particularly fruitful breeding ground of young talent for Barca at the start of the millennium with Iniesta among a number of players that were brought through the academy and would go on to star for the club in years to come. 

While some from that generation have now hung up the boots, Iniesta continues to play in Japan, while Messi, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets continue to play for the Catalans. 

Barcelona will however be hoping to bring through a new generation of talent in the years to come and Iniesta is adamant they’ll be unable reproduce the same success they had two decades ago. 

“That generation will never be repeated but what follows does not have to necessarily be worse in terms of how the club fares. It will never be same but it doesn’t have to be worse,” Iniesta told The Guardian.

“There have been all sorts of eras in the club’s history: young players used to get a chance in the first team when results were bad and they had to turn to the youth team. That happened in my era.

“But then you have the period when you have 10, 11, 12 players from the youth team in the first-team squad. It depends on who the coach is, the situation of the club, but I always think that a player in the youth system who is good enough to play in the first team reaches the first team, in one situation or the other.

“It was many years living this club, growing up here since we were very young, getting into the first team and staying there for 10, 12, 15 years, becoming captains. We were all formed here as people.

“It’s difficult for something like that to happen. It’s very difficult. We’re talking about Barcelona, a club with the best players.

“Víctor, Puyol, Xavi, me: we came up in a scenario to Busi, Pique, and Leo. We’re people who have been at the club our whole lives and we have that ‘plus’ that others don’t have.”

After playing over 600 games for Barcelona, Iniesta left the club in 2018 and continues to play for J-League club Vissel Kobe. 

Despite the questionable nature of his exit from Camp Nou, the Spaniard has stressed he’s open to returning to the club once he stops playing. 

“Right now, I’m trying to extend my playing career as much as possible, I want to kick a ball for as long as I can because that’s what makes me happy,” he said.

“I’ve got a contact until next year, 2021, but I’m looking at things at the end of every season and I feel good, motivated. I want to keep playing and we’re delighted to be here. 

“When it does end, I have always said that I would love to go back to Barca. It all depends on how? In what role? What situation? Who is at the club? That’s some way off. But with everything I experienced there, all the feelings I have, I would love to go back.”