Former Barcelona defender Marc Bartra has admitted that Barcelona's famous La Masia youth academy can be a very scary place for young footballers looking to rise through the ranks.
La Masia is responsible for the emergence of some of the biggest names in world football, having housed players such as Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta. There's no doubt that the standards are extremely high in the Barcelona academy, which has stood out as the model for youth development over the years. And, as Bartra has revealed, the setup could be quite daunting for kids looking to progress in the game.
The 27-year-old, now playing his football for Real Betis, spent 14 years with Barca before his move to Borussia Dortmund two years ago. And he doesn't seem to have enjoyed his time at La Masia the way many would have thought.
"The scariest part is that you know that, even if [the coaches are] just a little unhappy with you, they'll bring in someone else," the Spaniard wrote on The Players' Tribune. "This is the Barca academy - every kid in the world wants to play there.
"You'd see these talents come not just from the whole of Spain, but from Mexico, Israel, Brazil, Germany, wherever. And you'd think: If I don't do well, next year they'll be here, and I'll be gone.
"Trust me, that's pressure. Especially when you're 10 years old. You don't really have the maturity to deal with it. You're living the life of a seasoned professional, yet you're still a kid. And honestly, I don't remember enjoying it much."
Although he seemed to have been put under a lot of pressure during his time as an up-and-coming player, Bartra claims to have had enjoyable times during training, as well as when he was able to play with his brother, who was later released from the academy.
"I loved it when we got to train with the ball, or when I could play with my brother," he continued. "But on a day-to-day basis, having to train hard and study to get good grades, well, I found it very difficult."