La Masia: Ramon Vila

The modern goalkeeper has more responsibilities than ever before. The importance of the men between the pipes to have astute passing abilities is becoming just as necessary as making gravity-defying saves. At La Masia, this pressure can be amplified with the reputation of winning making it critical that young goalkeepers come up big in the rare moments they are called upon as their squads generally dominate possession. Iñaki Peña is the standout name in net at the academy, but he isn't the only talented goalie in the pipeline. Juvenil B's Ramon Vila is years away from first team competition, but the 16-year-old is beginning to see his stock rise considerably of late.

Ramon Vila Rovira was born February 18, 2002 in Sallent de Llobregat, about an hour northwest of the Camp Nou. Vila was discovered rather early and quickly made the move to La Masia. He first made a name for himself at the club and his biggest career accomplishment so far was being named as the best goalkeeper at the Kevin De Bruyne Cup in May of 2017. Teammate Ilaix Moriba was named MVP of the tournament as the Cadet B side took home first place and the trophy.

Back in August, Vila trained extensively with Barcelona B due to injuries to Jasper Cillessen and Peña and forcing the goalkeeper hierarchy to skip a few steps as Jokin Ezkieta was needed by the first team. In fact, along with teammates Adriá Altimira, Oriol Soldevila and Jaume Jardí, Vila has trained a number of times with Barcelona B since the summer.

The young goalkeeper has also been one of the Juvenil B players consistently training with Juvenil A while they prepare for UEFA Youth League matches. While he has yet to make an appearance behind the trio of Juvenil A goalies in Arnau Tenas, Álex Baño and Pol Tristán, Vila was the back-up keeper behind Tenas when Barcelona defeated Inter 2-1. Tristán, a month younger than Vila despite an earlier promotion to Juvenil A, is expected to compete with Vila for the starting spot next season in the competition. 

Like many of his Juvenil B compatriots, Vila was not rated very highly and finds himself in a team that is thought of more for the players that left than the ones who stayed. If Pablo Moreno (Juventus), Joel López (Arsenal) and Roberto Navarro (AS Monaco) had stayed, Juvenil B could have been seen as a much stronger side. Yet, manager Franc Artiga seems to be getting the best out of the side he does have and Ramon Vila is one of the players that has taken the largest leap this season and has put himself on the right trajectory to start pushing the goalkeepers in his way.