Korea’s three Barca Boys, in the La Masia academy – Jang Gyeolhee, Paik Seungho and Lee Seungwoo – may soon be no more.
The youngest of the lot, Jang is reportedly set to be released by Barcelona’s youth ranks. Many insiders have simply concluded that Jang just hasn’t developed the way La Masia had hoped. His recent conversion to full-back appears to have ended in failure, and the most evident manifestation of this is his failure to break into a U-20 side that had – if we’re speaking frankly – some really pathetic fullback options.
Before you go “and then there was two”… consider that Lee Seungwoo also no longer seems to be in Barcelona’s plans. With Barca B seeming all set to secure a last-chance promotion to the Spanish 2nd tier, there are many doubts, at least, among La Masia’s coaches, if Lee can play at that level. Furthermore, if he were to be promoted to Barca B, his buy out clause would multiply four-fold. This would make it very difficult for Barcelona to off-load the popular forward.
Recent articles suggest that contract negotiations should have started ages ago if Lee were in Barcelona’s plans. Such negotiations are already well underway for some of his teammates and the radio silence likely speaks for itself. Subsequently, Lee has reportedly been waiting in Seoul for news from his agent and considering offers from Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City, among other clubs. A spike in offers is reported after his U-20 performance pleased many scouts.
Finally, Paik Seungho, left out of the squad entirely in Barca B’s 4-1 playoff win over Racing Santander. Paik might be the most likely candidate to push on at La Masia, simply because he hasn’t been the subject of any transfer rumors and his contract situation is less urgent than Lee (who only has a year left). However, Paik’s been relegated to the bench for the majority of this past season, and Barca B’s promotion to a higher level of play might just been that Paik will soon be adjudged to not be in the right level.
I’m not the youth expert here, not by any means, but I think the time is right to go.
When even Barcelona’s brightest talents, such as Jordi Mboula, see no future at Barça, maybe it’s curtains for La Masia. Other clubs can offer first team and professional minutes that FCB just cannot. And we all know the importance of said minutes for football development. These players need to be hoistered into a competitive environment and make the next step. Barça is losing its reputation of being an academy club. So the Barça Boys would be wise to read the tea leaves and go.
It’s important for all three players to accept that their times at La Masia as everything but failure. They were victims of a FIFA ban that they had no control over. However, for their footballing careers to progress, the general consensus is that they need to swallow their pride. They must put aside dreams of the Nou Camp in order to develop their own careers. Korean football needs them to make such a selfish decision.