'Guardiola the turning point in the history of Barcelona' - How 'lucky' Messi, Xavi & Iniesta made it at Camp Nou

Lionel Messi Pep Guardiola Xavi Andres Iniesta
Jordi Vinyals, who worked as a youth-team coach at Barca until 2015, has hailed the work of the Manchester City boss in nurturing talent at Camp Nou

Former Barcelona youth coach Jordi Vinyals believes that Pep Guardiola's time in charge of the Catalans was a turning point in the history of the club as he patiently nurtured the talents of the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

The Spaniard was appointed as head coach back in 2008 and oversaw an incredible period of success that saw the Liga giants win three Spanish titles and claim two Champions League triumphs, with 14 trophies delivered in total.

Messi, Xavi and Iniesta all played key roles during Guardiola's four-year spell in charge, with the trio central to his tiki-taka brand of football that saw the Blaugrana dominate their opponents with their possession of the ball.

And Vinyals is convinced that patience played a major role in ensuring that trio could flourish at Camp Nou, suggesting that they were "lucky" to have the opportunity to develop in a competitive environment that demands results.

He told Goal and SPOX: "The pool of talent is even bigger today than it was some years ago. Because there are better projects to educate players with highly qualified staff and concepts, to keep improving the youth sector.

"Xavi, Iniesta and Messi were of course fantastic talents. But they were lucky too, as they were not only given a few chances and that was it. They were calmly and constantly embedded into the first team. They were not starters right away.

Lionel Messi Andres Iniesta Xavi

"They had coaches who trusted them. And then one day someone came in who understood perfectly what it took to integrate players from the academy (Guardiola). He had the courage to take uncomfortable decisions and sacrifice big names to give young players a leading role.

"You can say that Guardiola was the turning point in the history of the club. That goes for the integration of La Masia and also the way that football was played and opponents were dominated. That made it easier for us youth coaches as well."

The likes of Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig and Carles Alena are now the big hopes for the future at Barca although there have been questions raised over the lack of opportunities being given to La Masia graduates in recent years.

Vinyals, who worked as a youth-team coach at Barca between 2012 and 2015, feels that the weight of expectation in the modern era has proven too much for some.

"I constantly see 17, 18 or 19 year olds making big headlines and stuff like that. But not every player can cope with that, because they're simply not mature enough.

"By doing that you imply to them that they already reached something in life. Plus expectations are raised. Someone who believes he has made it just because he is in the media can easily get on the wrong track."

Alen Halilovic Barcelona

Discussing Alen Halilovic, who joined Barca back in 2014 to significant fanfare but ultimately failed to make the grade and the club and left for AC Milan in 2018, Vinyals added: "The boy is a perfect example of what I just said.

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"He had so much pressure on him. But that was not only because his name was in the papers all the time. He also had the pressure from his entourage and the club. There were clauses that said he had to become a professional when he played a certain amount of youth matches.

"Do you think that is something that helps a young player? You can't plan anything in football. He had great qualities, I don't want to dispute that, but we shouldn't forget that he played with Barca B in the Segunda Division, a very competitive league.

"He should have been far better than his team-mates or opposing players to earn a place in the professional squad. He couldn't be that because he came from Croatia as a teenager and he wasn't given the time to get used to it, to work with patience to prove that one day he could play for the professionals. Under these circumstances, it was difficult for him, of course."