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Best Football Academies In the World

  • More and more clubs recognize the importance of youth academies
  • Ajax have one of the oldest and most successful academy
  • The academies of United and Barcelona have produced top class players for decades
best football academies in the world

To be a successful football club, you need the best players in your team. One way to have them is to spend huge amounts of money to buy them from other clubs. But the most advanced clubs try to develop their own players from a very young age. Like FC Barcelona who have already taught players like Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique or Cesc Fabregas at La Masia, one of the best football academies in the world.

Looks like the question of homegrown players have become more important in recent years with many clubs recognizing the importance of them. As in the long term it can be more beneficial to have your own young talents in the team than to buy them from other clubs for a much higher price. While some clubs like Ajax or Dinamo Zagreb have made a huge profit from selling their players to other clubs, and developing other youngsters from this income. In other places talents from the academies can also join the first teams and become key members of it. As we can see in the next few examples.

Best football academies in the world

5. Sporting Lisbon

Sporting Lisbon has just won the Primeira Liga for the first time since 2002, three years after a group of their own fans attacked the team at their training camp. Then several players, the manager and even the club president left the club. After these dramatic events the club started to focus again on developing their own players. Which they’ve already done so successfully in the past. As players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo or Nani were taught at their academy. Thanks to their great scouting system, Sporting managed to bring talents from all over the world to their academy and developed some of the best players. Their more recent talent is Nuno Mendes who is only 18, but already plays in the first team. So successfully that teams like Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid have shown interest in his signing.

best football academies in the world
Sporting Lisbon Stadium – Jorge Brazil from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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4. Dinamo Zagreb

It might be surprising but Dinamo Zagreb’s school is also in the best football academies in the world. Even though the first team hasn’t achieved such successes so far, their academy has been producing world-class players. Like 2018 Ballon d’or winner Luka Modric, Dejan Lovren, Juventus player Marko Pjaca or Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic. The club has sold all these players for huge amounts, as it has made almost 50 million Euros from its academy. But the academy’s players also play an important part in the Croatian national team. The current team has 14 former Dinamo Zagreb Academy footballers in its squad. These players have already achieved great results after finishing as a runner-up in the 2018 World Cup. Online sportsbooks in England also expect a good performance from them in the Euro2020.

3. Manchester United

The youth academy of Manchester United have become famous after developing the world-class players of Class 92. Including David Beckham, Ryan Giggs and the Neville brothers. But the great work didn’t stop in the 1990s. As young talents have emerged regularly in more recent years as well. Like Marcus Rashford, Scott Mctominay and Mason Greenwood. All these players feature in the first team from a very young age and have reached great results already. While this season they can win another trophy for the club in the Europa League final. Where online gambling sites in the UK favor them against Spanish side Villareal. While Nicky Butt, the head of the youth-team development still brings the best talents to the academy. Who start their career in the Under-18 and Under-23 teams before joining the first team.

2. Ajax

The Dutch club has been long known for its superb youth academy which also belongs to the oldest ones after it was founded in 1900. Thanks to its high level physical and mental training, the academy has produced top-skilled players for decades now. First Johann Cruyff and Arie Haan, then another gold generation with Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. But Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf and Edgar Davids have also started their career at Ajax. While in the most recent stars we can find Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt and Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

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The Academy’s first stars in the 1960s and 80s also helped the team to achieve its biggest successes. Like winning the Champions League four times. But in recent years the club struggled to keep their young talents and chose to sell them at a very young age. Many criticized the club’s policy. But the permanent income from these sales prove to be a useful method to bring up the next generation of talents. Who can also help the team to achieve other great results. Even if they only stay for a couple of years.

best football academies in the world
Ajax fans

1. FC Barcelona

FC Barcelona’s youth academy, the famous La Masia is without a doubt the most successful academy in the world. In spite of the first team’s struggles, everyone accepts the importance of young, homegrown players at the club. At least that’s what Ronald Koeman must have thought before starting to revitalize the team after his arrival. At the end of the season his policy of using several recent academy players seems to be effective. Especially after Barca managed to win the Spanish Cup last month and still in the fight for the La Liga title.

Players like Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig, Ilaix Moriba all made their debut in the first team. While former Academy student Oscar Mingueza has become a key member of the starting eleven. Just like his famous predecessors have done decades ago. Probably still everyone remembers the dream team of Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Valdes, Pedro and the rest who all came through thanks to La Masia.

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