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The Blaugrana have lapsed in keeping their top four youth prospects tied to the club...

Barcelona are said to be currently working out a contract extension for central defender Gerard Pique so that the former Blaugrana youth team player will never again leave the Camp Nou as he he did when he made the switch to Manchester United earlier in his career.

However, four of Barcelona's top youth team prospects could follow in Pique's footsteps as the Catalan outfit have lapsed in extending their contracts with the club in a report released by Barcelona sports daily, Sport.

The contracts of Gai Assulin, Jonathan dos Santos, Victor Vazquez, and Thiago Alcantara all expire on June 30 and according to rules stipulated in the players' agreements, each are now free to begin negotiating with other clubs.

The four youth players are very highly rated by Pep Guardiola and during the month of January, with the absences of Yaya Toure and Seydou Keita from the squad because of the African Cup of Nations, the Barca coach has publicly stated that he will count on the youngsters to fill in the holes in the team.

This past Saturday in the draw against Villarreal at the Camp Nou, Guardiola gave a starting role to one of the four players, Jonathan dos Santos, who performed admirably in his first Liga start for the Blaugrana. All four players were called up in the training sessions that preceded the match.

Retaining these four players is crucial if Barca are to remain faithful to their current model of grooming their very talented youth products for work with the first team.

The club has already lamented allowing some players to slip through the cracks, namely the aforementioned Pique and Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas. It is reported that after extending Pique's contract, Barca will pursue shoring up deals with their four young pearls.

Cyrus C. Malek, Goal.com



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