Football academies play a crucial role in Football. Academies are not only a feeder to the senior team but also bring profits if they function the right way. In modern-day football, where the transfer market is getting higher and higher, youth academies provide new generation footballers for free. Top clubs around the world always look to their youth teams for talents, who can break into the senior setup and make a place for themselves. Moreover, the club sells its star academy players for a hefty price in order to make a strong team the club. Football academies also set a benchmark for the first team and bring competitiveness among the senior players in the club. So base on the need, What are the best youth football academies in Europe for training top-level footballers? Here we concluded the ultimate list of Best Youth Football Academies in Europe.
Best Youth Football Academies in Europe
10). Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich’s lavish spending makes it easy to forget they too run a football school and a quite successful one too. In fact, home-grown talents have been at the heart of most of its domestic and European success.
According to an ECA report, the Bavarians trained 180 youngsters at a time under the wings of 40 staff members, all run at a cost of £2.5 million per year. Thomas Muller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Alaba, Phillip Lahm, and Toni Kroos are some of the notable graduates. Each has played a key role in the side’s enormous title success in the last decade.
9). Paris Saint-German
The Paris Saint-Germain academy has always been strong, but over the last decade, it has emerged as one of Europe’s leading talent developers. This has coincided with an explosion of talent emerging from the Île-de-France region of France in which Paris is located.
Even with all the financial investment and activity in the transfer market, French giants PSG can still produce top-level players. Only seven club-trained players could secure a place in the first team. 14 other club-trained players are playing for other clubs within the top 5 leagues. Kingsley Coman, Adrien Rabiot, and Mamadou Sakho all started their careers in Paris, before transferring to different clubs. Paris Saint Germain has 21 club-trained players in the top 5 European leagues.
Atalanta’s emergence over the last few seasons is the culmination of decades of work building a successful and sustainable club with youth development at its core.
Over its history, the Bergamo-based club has leaked talents to the Milan, Inter, and Juventus, largely due to their close proximity, especially to the Milanese duo. The most recent example is Manuel Locatelli, who left Atalanta to join Milan as an 11-year-old.
Increasingly, Atalanta is also looking abroad, finding international talents to blend in with their local crop. Amad Diallo, Musa Barrow, and Dejan Kulusevski are just a few of those international players, with the three of them netting the club an enormous windfall after their sales to Manchester United, Bologna, and Juventus.
Atalanta academy players part of the current first-team set-up include Matteo Ruggeri, Mattia Caldara, Filippo Melegoni, Ebrima Colley, Enrico Del Prato, Davide Bettella, Christian Capone, and Matteo Carnesecchi
7). Sporting Lisbon
Remember how a young Cristiano Ronaldo of Sporting Lisbon impressed the visiting scouts of Manchester United all those years ago? That moment is an enduring testament to the club’s prolific work in nurturing young talents.
Luis Figo is another famous graduate of their academy while Luis Nani, Joao Moutinho, Pepe, and Ricardo Quaresma have all enjoyed careers at the highest level. In fact, about 100 youngsters of Sporting Lisbon have represented the Selecao on a national level.
6). Olympique Lyonnais
Lyon is not the first name that comes to mind when you think of talent development. But the club has successfully built a production line for world-class prospects over the decades. “We have a culture of faith in young players,” said Jean-Francois Vulliez once, the current head of Lyon academy.
Karim Benzema, Alexandre Lacazette, Anthony Martial, Samuel Umtiti, Corentin Tolisso, and Nabil Fekir are only some of the French talents who honed their craft at the club before pulling up trees with bigger sides.
- Academy Name: Cobham
- Location: London
Chelsea’s Cobham academy is among the very best in world football – in fact, it has a very strong claim to being the best at present. While traditional powerhouses of La Masia struggle to truly live up to their exceptional reputation, Cobham goes from strength to strength, building on the extraordinary base of talent that the greater London region supplies.
The Surrey-based academy has dominated underage football for the last decade, in England and beyond. They’ve appeared in nine FA Youth Cup finals since 2010, winning seven of them; no club has won more UEFA Youth League titles than they have, having triumphed in back-to-back seasons between 2014 and 2016. Chelsea is a juggernaut in youth football.
Notable former Chelsea academy players include Tammy Abraham, Ola Aina, Lewis Bate, Ryan Bertrand, Nathaniel Chalobah, Jay Da Silva, Marc Guéhi, Tariq Lamptey, and Tino Livramento, Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Chelsea academy players part of the current first-team set-up include Trevoh Chalobah, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Reece James, and Mason Mount.
AFC Ajax’s academy has always been the defining aspect that sets the iconic Amsterdam club apart from other great and historic institutions of football right across Europe. The Dutch outfit has always been renowned for its efforts in youth development. So, it’s not surprising to see them being one of the greatest European producers of talent. It all started with the legendary Dutchman Johan Cryuff, whose principles of the game were later taken up by the academy.
You can write a whole book about the number of successful players it has produced over the decades. However, some of the most famous alumni include Patrick Kluivert, Clarence Seedorf, Dennis Bergkamp, Frank de Boer, Rafael van der Vaart, and Wesley Sneijder.
With Justin Kluivert and Matthijs de Ligt among the more recent graduates, the Ajax youth academy continues to produce potential superstars by the dozens.
4). Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund has a stellar reputation for developing young talents. However, their academy doesn’t get so much attention. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less successful in fostering young guns. In fact, Mario Gotze, who scored the World Cup-winning goal for Germany in 2014, is a notable graduate of theirs.
His former teammate Marco Reus, as well as American star Christian Pulisic, are also graduates of their academy. In more recent times, though, Felix Passlack and Jacob Bruun Larsen, coming through the ranks at Dortmund’s youth set-up, are garnering interest from bigger European sides.
3). Manchester United
The fact that Manchester United has named at least one academy graduate in over 4000 consecutive matchday squads is a testament to the club’s long-standing tradition of blooding youth. The famous ‘Class of 92’ is arguably the most successful generation to have graduated out of the academy.
Sir Alex Ferguson, especially, put a premium on promoting homegrown talents. But, despite United’s current high-spending nature on foreign imports, players like Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, and Scott McTominay show that the academy is still churning out precocious budding stars.
2). Real Madrid
It’s one of football’s biggest misconceptions that Real Madrid does not produce home-grown talents. Their free-spending nature under Florentino Perez saw them turn a blind eye toward their young players. But you would be surprised to see that a whole host of stars have come through La Fabrica.
Samuel Eto’o, Juan Mata, Alvaro Negredo, and Marcos Alonso among others are some of the names that got away, but Daniel Carvajal was an important piece of the Los Blancos puzzle that romped through European titles in the last decade. The standout names also include now Atletico Madrid machine Marcos Llorente and PSG’S very own rocket Achraf Hakimi.
- Academy Name: La Masia
- Location: Barcelona
While a constant developer of talent for many generations now, the academy earned global recognition in the late 2000s and early 2010s, as Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering teams won trophy after trophy and the Spanish national team won two European Championships and a World Cup.
A large part of Barcelona’s success in the last decade is down to La Masia. Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Pedro, and Victor Valdes among others were some of the most notable graduates of the fabled academy. They formed the core of arguably one of the greatest club sides in modern history.
FC Barcelona academy players part of the current first-team set-up include Ansu Fati, Sergio Busquets, Óscar Mingueza, Gavi Paéz, Gerard Piqué, Riqui Puig, and Sergi Roberto.