Top 10 Football academies in the World
Football academies depend upon the commitment of the Club. As no club can entirely depend on investing only in the transfer market to keep up with their objectives.
All the great footballers have not appeared suddenly from anywhere, they also have been nurtured and developed into a young prospect. It is here that they learnt finer points about football. A football academy developes a young prospect into a first team player. So here we are looking at the academies which are best in doing so.
10. DINAMO ZAGREB ACADEMY (CROATIA)
The academy known as Hitrec-Kacijan, has risen due to the resurgence of Croatian National Team.The club may not be in the same position in Europe as it used to be in the past. But their youth academy is surely one of the best in the world. Developing around 200 young talents at a unbelievable cost of around 1.3 million euros per year. When compared to its competitiors the results are far more impressive for them.
But many of the continent’s big clubs are benifitting from the academy’s impressive results. Players like Marko Pjaca of Juventus, Real Madrid’s Luka Modric and Atletico Madrid’s new right back Sime Vrsaljko are all from there. While the likes of Dejan Lovren,Niko Kranjcar, Vedran Corluka and Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj and young Real Madrid player Mateo Kovacic are fellow academy graduates.
9. SCHALKE 04 KNAPPENSCHMIEDE (GERMANY)
The recent World Cup victory for Germany proves how much they rely on their youth system. Germany’s policy of nurturing youth prospect and throwing them into the limelight of elite football have provided a lot of great feedbacks. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Benedikt Howedes and Manuel Neuer who all are sensational footballers for their respective clubs are academy graduates from Schalke.
The current lineup also has enough talent and home grown players, the likes of Julian Draxler, Kaan Ayhan, Max Meyer all are some of Europe’s hottest talents. Leroy Sane who left Schalke for Manchester City is also an academy graduate and probably one of the highest rated younsters in world football. Schalke’s contribution to the World Cup winning German side is immense.
8. CLAIREFONTAINE (FRANCE)
France has produced many young talents who have become household names in football and they continue to do so. The 12 academies that are present in France Clairefontaine has been the most impressive and overpowered other academies over last two decades.
It is supervised by the French Football Federation and players like Nicolas Anelka, Sebastian Bassong, Abou Diaby, Mehdi Benatia, Luis Saha, William Gallas, Hatem BenArfa and the most impressive graduate being Thierry Henry. Blaise Matuidi is among the recent graduates and is focal part of both PSG and the French National team. The academy develops players in their young age from 13 years and from here on they pass on to their professional careers.
7. SANTOS FC ACADEMY (BRAZIL)
Santos is a club with a lot of historical value and had dominated Brazilian football in the past. They have been pretty influential in providing excellent players for the Brazilian national team. An academy has to be special when Pele is the academy graduate.
About sixty years ago Pele made his Santos debut and since then they have continued producing great players. The likes of Elano, Neymar, Robinho, Alex, Diego, Ganso and Andre all have become players for the national team. Recently the hottest youth prospect, Neymar is also a talent to emerge from the Santos Academy. With recent debutants in the National team like Gabriel Barbosa well known as Gabigol has glimpses of his talent while playing for the Selecaos
6. THE MANCHESTER UNITED ACADEMY (ENGLAND)
Manchester United the team who dominated English football for sometime and one of the reasons for its success will be their efficent youth system. Players like David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers are enough to prove the academy’s quality in developing youth and making them into first team material.
Recently the club has failed to keep up with the quality of past but recent players produced by the academy are still quite impressive. The likes of Paul Pogba, Jese Lingaard, Paddy McNair, James Wilson and Tyler Blackett are among the academy graduates and recently their talisman Marcus Rashford who has broken into the scene with his exceptional talent is also an academy graduate.
5. SOUTHAMPTON FC ACADEMY (ENGLAND)
When you think about Southampton Football Club, the one thing that come up to your mind is their youngsters who have been exceptional.
The Saints never stopped investing in youth whilst playing in the third tier of English football. Gareth Bale being the best regarded youth player at the St Mary’s, but the players like Adam Lallana, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse are very good footballers and have made their mark in the national team. While youngsters like Matt Targett, Harrison Reed and Sam Gallagher are keeping up with the reputation of the academy, in producing quality home grown players.
4. BAYERN MUNICH JUNIOR TEAM (GERMANY)
Bayern’s dominance in the Bundesliga and their ability to lure players from it’s competitors is well known. But that is not the only source of being so dominant as they also have a great youth system. With academy graduates like Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Alaba, Emre Can, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos,Owen Hargreaves and Diego Contento the academy is undoubtedly one of the best in the world.
Legends like Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, etc are also academy graduates. With young talents like Christian Fruchtl, Nicklas Dorsch and Gianluca Gaudino emerging from the academy, the future for the German giants are in safe feet.
3. ACADEMIA SPORTING LISBON (PORTUGAL)
Academia Sporting has been the youth centre for Portugal’s young talents. Ballon d’Or Luis Figo was one of the most notable graduates but then they have produced immense amount of talented players like Eric Dier, Nani, Simao, Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Ricardo Quaresma, Beto, Rui Patricio, Silvestre Varela, Nene and Jose Fonte.
The academy came more into notice when it’s graduates won Ballon d’Or firstly,with Luis Figo and then the most notable academy product, 4 time Ballon d’or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo has played 25 matches for Sporting and he is their best youth product till date.
2. AJAX YOUTH ACADEMY : DE TOEKOMST (NETHERLANDS)
One of the best Youth academies in world football, De Toekomst is the production centre of most Dutch talents. The academy through the years have produced the greats such as Johan Cryuff, Frank Rijkaard, Denis Bergkamp, Frank and Ronal de Boer, Edgar Davids, Clarance Seedorf and Patrick Kluivert.
The academy has produced greats of the game but now they slightly lack that quality but still they are among the top academies in world football. The likes of Van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, John Heitinga, Nigel de Jong, Maarten Stekelenburg, Ryan Babel, Daley Blind, Urby Emanuelson, Christian Eriksen, Siem de Jong, Thomas Vermaelen, Gregory van der Wiel and Jan Vertonghen are some of the current great footballers that are produced by the academy. very few academies in the world can match upto its level and quality of producing first team players and hence it is ranked so highly in the list.
1. LA MASIA- BARCELONA (SPAIN)
The academy that is undisputedly best in the world for producing immensely talented players. It has being the backbone of Barcelona and is one of the main reasons for the club’s great success.
This is the only academy which had three graduates making a podium finish the for Ballon d’Or which are Messi, Iniesta and Xavi in 2010. Louis Van Gaal once was ridiculed for suggesting that he could win the Champions League with 11 La Masia graduates. He might not be very wrong when you see the list of graduates which include the likes of Carles Puyol, Xavi, Pepe Reina, Victor Valdes, Mikel Arteta, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Thiago Motta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Bojan, Pedro, Jordi Alba, Giovani dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Cristian Tello, Gerard Deulofeu, Marc Bartra and Thiago Alcantara.
But the one man who completely overshadows this extraordinary list of players is Lionel Messi. The finest product of La Masia and possibly the finest in the history of football. The 5 time Ballon d’Or winner has certainly raised the quality of players produced in La Masia envisioned by late Johan Cruyff, making it the best football academy in the world.