Benjamin Palandella puts on his Barcelona jersey adorned with Messi's number 10 after a training game at the youth soccer academy Club Social Parque in a working class neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
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Benjamin Palandella dribbles around a bigger boy who comes charging at him and shoots to goal with shocking force for a seven year-old.It's the same soccer talent factory where international stars like Diego Maradona, Carlos Tevez and Juan Roman Riquelme polished their skills as children.Club Social Parque, a humble youth academy in Messi's native country, has perhaps produced more world-class players than any other.After the training game, Benjamin changed into a Barcelona shirt adorned with Messi's number 10 and continued to kick the ball even after the other kids had gone home.Former players say that the secret to Parque is Maddoni's eye for spotting young talent. Some of the academy's best talent blossomed under agreements to transfer its young players to clubs Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors.For the thousands of talented youngsters like Palandella, only a small percentage will become elite players.During a recent youth league game played in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, some parents clung to a metal fence and cheered as if they were witnessing the World Cup final. A coach barked orders at their kids on the sideline.Like Maradona, Thiago is a classic playmaker.
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