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5 reasons why Sergi Samper should remain at Barcelona despite transfer speculation

Sergi Samper has been regarded as the most promising prospect in Barcelona's world-famous La Masia academy for a number of years. However, his progression has not been as quick as most anticipated and, at this point, first team manager Luis Enrique actually prefers to trust Barca B's Gerard Gumbau instead whenever a gap in the midfield arises.

As a result, it not surprising that major European clubs have already expressed an interest to lure him away from the Camp Nou, with Arsenal currently leading the way to hire his services.

Here are 5 reasons why Sergi Samper should remain at Barcelona despite transfer speculation:

1. Barcelona can't afford to lose any more La Masia talent

No one panicked when Andres Iniesta’s replacement Thiago Alcantara was poached by Bayern Munich. No one panicked when Gerard Deulofeu, a La Masia product who was touted as the future on the wing for a number of years, left first on loan, then was sold with a buy-back option to Everton. The same can be said for Adama at Aston Villa. No one will panic if Sergi Samper goes to Arsenal because Barcelona will still have plenty of quality on their roster.

Yet, losing Samper would be another huge blow to the integrity of an academy that has seen a few recent top prospects leave before establishing themselves in the first team. While Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas and Jordi Alba eventually returned to Catalonia, the last true young Cule to establish himself in the first team as a starter and remain there was Sergio Busquets in 2008. It’s great to have Neymar for the future and Marc Bartra and Sergi Roberto are fine squad players, but when will La Masia produce the next member of Barcelona’s starting XI?

2. Other future prospects may fear the same

Munir, Sandro and players on Barcelona B represent the current crop of borderline first teamers that Barcelona fans have hyped up in the past. Every passing year gives the opportunity to hype up another up and coming young talent such as 17-year-old Carles Alena, who has already trained with the first team and played for Barca B this season. 

However, while there is always movement at the academy level, young La Masia prospects may start to take notice of players like Samper or Alex Grimaldo surrounded in transfer speculation to leave for first team opportunities and head for the door themselves. La Masia has long been considered one of the best academies in the world along with the likes of Ajax, Sporting CP and even Bayern Munich to name a few, but to uphold that moniker will require the continued transition from youth academy to first team.

3. Leaving on the cheap

It’s one thing for Barcelona to let a prospect go, but it’s another to lose another player for a low price. 8.5 million euros isn’t a low amount for a player that has only featured for a few cup games for the first team, but continuing to lose prospects for little monetary gain doesn’t help the books. 

As much as people disagree with Chelsea’s loan system, whereas they buy young players who never see the first team but are still sold for a healthy profit after successful loan spells elsewhere, Barcelona seem to be selling their youngsters before they can raise their market value. Of course a club runs the risk of seeing that player lose traction, but if a player has been around La Masia long enough and was seen to have first team potential, they can certainly be of service at a smaller club.

4. Barcelona lack depth in holding midfield position

While Sergi Roberto has excelled at right-back and Javier Mascherano transformed himself from a midfield to a defender at club level, these are exceptions and not the rule. Changing positions, which often times means changing a player's role on a team, is a difficult transition and is the reason for the phrase "playing out of position." 

That said, the only natural defensive midfielder on Barcelona's current roster is Sergio Busquets. Mascherano has deputized there plenty and Gerard Gumbau has been the youngster who has come in off the bench. That pivot at the base of the midfield is a position with little fanfare but extreme importance, and losing Samper would compromise the depth at an essential position for the playing style of the club. 

The holding midfielder role, maybe above all others, should be given to a player with an immaculate understanding of the system, an understanding that often comes from La Masia. Gerard Gumbau has certainly gained the favour of the coaching staff and is seen as a reliable option off the bench with the club so depleted by injuries, but there is little reason why Sergi Samper cannot also get an opportunity to show that he can be competitive for minutes after years of service to the learning of the Blaugrana way.

5. Not financially savvy

One of the things that attract Barcelona fans to the club is the belief that the club isn’t like Real Madrid or Manchester City and interested in solely building super teams with inflated price tags. 

The FIFA ban has hurt Barcelona’s credibility, but having a youth product from Catalonia establish themselves in the first team could help that. More importantly, a team like Barcelona prides itself on not using money from rich owners to buy whoever they want, and for a club with their financial structure, it is impossible to think that splashing cash to fill every position is conducive to a healthy business model. 

Nobody at the Camp Nou would complain if Paul Pogba or maybe even highly sought-after Anderlecht youngster Youri Tielemans showed up in the middle of the park, but it’s a steep price to pay if the answer could end up being a player who is already at the club.

By Dan Hilton, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter @HiltonD13.

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