Top 5 Youth Academies in Europe

Published 07/20/2015, 3:05 PM EDT

Great players are made by great academies, and the records show us that too. Players like Messi, Cruyff, Ronaldo and Beckham have been a part of some of the best youth academies in the world.


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Academies in the future are going to be more important as wages and transfer fees of players these days are sky high. Also, by developing top class players in their own academy, they can also earn a major profit by selling them, if need be.

So, let’s take a look at some of the best academies in Europe.


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5. West Ham United (England)


The Academy of Football or the West Ham United Academy is of the best academies in modern football.  Many big clubs have swooped in for talented players that the Hammers grew amidst their ranks.

The major reason for the Academy’s success can be accredited to Tony Carr, who has been with the club since 1973 and is currently the Director of Youth Development at West Ham.

Successful Graduates: Bobby Moore, Sir Trevor Brooking, Michael Carrick, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, John Terry, Joe Cole, Kieran Richardson, Jermain Defoe, Glen Johnson and Paul Ince.

4. Southampton Football Club Academy (England)

Also known as the Saints Academy, this youth academy is one of the most prestigious in the world. Many players emerged from here who later became notable in world football. Players from this academy are known especially for their pace and agility.

This academy has greatly benefited the English National team as many Saints players are in the present squad.

Successful graduates:  Terry Paine, Martin Chivers, Steve Williams, Mick Channon, Matthew Le Tissier, Alan Shearer, Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw.

3. Manchester United Academy (England)

The club has been home to some of the greatest players in football and so has its academy.

It is statistically the most famous academy in England, producing a total of nine players in the English Football Hall of Fame.

The current academy is based at the club’s Aon Training Complex, an 85-acre (340,000 m) site in the Manchester suburb of Carrington.

Successful graduates:  Duncan Edwards, Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best, Nobby Stiles, Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Johnny Giles, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Johny Evans.

2. Barcelona (Spain) 

The Barcelona Youth academy is also known as La Masia and is certainly one of the world’s best today.

The credit for developing La Masia goes to former Barcelona coach Johan Cruyff, who dreamt of making an Ajax-like youth academy set up in Barcelona.

Nurturing football greats has been an easy & frequent task for the academy in the past few years. Four-time Ballon D’Or winner, Lionel Messi, is also a product of this academy.

Successful graduates: Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Cesc Fabregas, Gerard Pique, Victor Valdes, Pedro, Mikel Arteta and Jordi Alba.

1. Ajax (Netherlands)

With undoubtedly the best youth academy in the world today, Dutch side Ajax has received a lot praises. The academy has been a home & a place of inception for a lot of great players & football legends.

The side runs around 13 academies and this shows  the commitment of the staff & administration in developing potential talent.

The Eredevisie  side has almost all the players from its academy except for a few exceptions. The Club has sold many players and also earned a huge amount of profit from them.

Successful graduates: Sjaak Swart, Johan Cruyff, Frank Rijkaard, Dennis Bergkamp, Frank & Ronald de Boer, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, John Heitinga, Maarten Stekelenburg, Gregory van der Wiel, Daley Blind and Nigel de Jong.


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Special mention:

Clairfontaine (France):  Nicolas Anelka, Louis Saha, William Gallas, Hatem Ben Arfa, Abou Diaby, Sébastien Bassong, Mehdi Benatia, Blaise Matuidi.

Bayern Munich (Germany): Phillip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, David Alaba, Emre Can.


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Sporting (Portugal): Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Nani, Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho.


Prerak Kansal

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