The Top Youth Academies in the World

Nov 26, 10 The Top Youth Academies in the World

Top Youth Academies in the World.

Football Youth Academy’s are going to increase in importance with transfer fees and wages spiralling out of control. Football clubs need to grow their own top-class players in the hope of either selling them on for major profit, or unearthing a hidden diamond with a love for the club who can be the backbone of their team for years to come. But this seems only to happen in the continent as far as I’m concerned, which means that English clubs will suffer unless they do something now and re structure there academies to enable them to produce, instead of being buying clubs.

The money can’t last forever, the money won’t last forever. I think it’s time that Irish pro/semi pro teams started to structure there academies and start thinking about youth football, it’s time to produce for the future.

Young players brought through the academy, and “home-grown” players who may be signed from elsewhere and then nurtured by the club, The Coach Diary looks at the World’s best Football Club Youth Academies.

Manchester City

It would be easy to look at Man City’s transfer policy over the last couple of years and label them as a team with the ability to sign anyone due to their deep financial pockets, but that would be doing a disservice to their youth setup.

Man City’s academy has produced and nurtured international players like Shaun Wright-Phillips, Dickson Etuhu and Stephen Ireland, as well as the likes of Vladimir Weiss, Kasper Schmeichel, Daniel Sturridge and Nedum Onouha.

It is essential for City to continue developing young players as their limitless spending cannot and should not go on forever and it will be interesting to see which academy players stay at Eastlands and which move on in January? DB Sports Tours could tell you a thing or two about Man City’s setup.

Grêmio (Brazil)

The club is officially ranked the number 1 Brazilian team by the CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation) The greatest period in Grêmio’s history came in the 1980s, coinciding with the completion in July 1980 of their new stadium. 1983 was the most successful year in Grêmio’s history. Grêmio has produced one of the greatest players ever in Ronaldinho and love him or hate him Lucas Leiva is also a Grêmio production as is Anderson Polga, Emerson,Tinga, Eduardo Costa.

Crewe Alexandra

When you think of clubs with great youth academies, you probably wouldn’t even think of Crewe Alexandra. However, during the near 30 years that Dario Gradi was in charge, Crewe kept themselves alive by developing their own players and selling them on to the big powers of the English leagues.

They churned out Danny Murphy (ex Liverpool), Seth Johnson, Dean Ashton (who Crewe sold to Norwich for a record fee of £3 million), Nicky Maynard and Welsh international David Vaughan. Crewe also have an impressive history of bringing in young players from other places and developing them, most notably Rob Jones, Seth Johnson, Neil Lennon and David Platt and Robbie Savage, both signed from Man United.

Everton FC

Everton have a very successful and some might say underrated youth academy set up, which is confirmed when you take a look at some of the players that they have developed. Michael Ball, Richard Dunne, Phil Jagielka, Tony Hibbert, Gavin McCann, Leon Osman, Victor Anichebe and Michael Johnson and Joey Barton (as schoolboys), all established Premier League players, came through Everton’s youth setup.

They also, most famously, produced Man United and England striker Wayne Rooney. Though his name has since become a dirty word at Goodison Park, Everton received over £25 million for a home-grown talent.

Arsenal FC

The Gunners are synonymous with bringing through top young players and whether you agree that signing a kid from abroad really counts as “home-grown” or not, Arsene Wenger has developed a talented squad that is only going to get better with age and experience.

The most notable players include Ashley Cole, Cesc Fabregas?, Gael Clichy and Nicklas Bendtner.

Before the Wenger era, Arsenal produced and developed international players such as Liam Brady, Niall Quinn, David O’Leary, Paul Merson, Ray Parlour and Tony Adams.

Argentinos Juniors

You couldn’t have a top list without a South American team, I could have put in Boca or even River Plate but for me Argentinos Juniors are the top dogs. Argentinos Juniors famous graduates of “El Semillero” have produced some of the best over the years, like Diego Armando Maradona, Juan Riquelme, Julio Arca, Sergio Daniel “Checho” Batista, Esteban Cambiasso , Fabricio Coloccini, Fernando Redondo and Juan Pablo Sorin.


West Ham United – The Academy Of Football

West Ham are an unsung hero when it comes to talking about player development. This is probably because bigger clubs tend to swoop in and take away the players that The Hammers bring through their ranks.

West Ham’s academy has produced top quality young English players for years, dating back to when manager Ted Fenton established the academy in the fifties. Fenton’s youth policy brought through players like Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst.       More recently, West Ham have produced a multitude of multi-million pound players, such as Paul Ince, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Glen Johnson, Jermain Defoe and Anton Ferdinand. Much of the success of The Academy has been attributed to Tony Carr who has been West Ham youth coach since 1973

AFC Ajax

While Ajax are undoubtedly one of the biggest clubs in Europe, they have suffered from the same plight as West Ham when it comes to keeping hold of the young Dutch players that they develop. Big names like Johan Cruyff, Edwin Van Der Sar, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Kluivert, Marco Van Basten, Ryan Babel, Van Der Vaart Wesley Sneijder and Nigel De Jong all cut their teeth in Amsterdam before moving on to bigger clubs.

Due to mutual agreements with foreign clubs, the youth academy has also signed foreign players as teenagers before making first team debuts, such as Belgian defensive trio Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Thomas Vermaelen (now with Arsenal) and winger Tom De Mul (now with Sevilla), all of whom are full internationals as well as Dutch youth international Javier Martina and Vurnon Anita of the Netherlands Antilles.

Manchester United

Man United’s academy has consistently produced great players for years, as much to the benefit of the teams who sign these players when they are surplus to requirements at Old Trafford than to The Man U themselves. Man U’s academy produced world class players like Bobby Charlton, Mark Hughes, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Wes Brown, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, all of whom have been instrumental in making United the most successful English club ever. It also nurtured players who then moved on to find success, such as Fraizer Campbell, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Kieran Richardson, Ryan Shawcross and Robbie Savage. However United most promising young players are now the likes of Jonny Evans and Darren Gibson.

Sporting Clube de Portugal (My Club)

Sporting Clube de Portugal is actually a sports club based in Lisbon, and the second biggest in the world after FC Barcelona. (During the first century of the club’s existence, the teams and the athletes of Sporting won 50 Olympic gold medals (Continental and Global), as well as many silver and gold medals and thousands of national and district titles; more than most clubs in the world). Which happened to have a football “section,” but this facet of the club has produced some legendary players over the course of its existence. A quick look at Portugal’s best players, past and present, reveals that a majority of them were products of Sporting PUMA Academy in Alcochete. Some of its most notable home-bred footballers include Yannick Djalo, Rui Patricio, Daniel Carrico, Carlos Saleiro, Andre Santos and Cedric Soares in the current Squad.

Paulo Futre, Simao, Ricardo Quaresma, Nani, Miguel, Luis Boa Morte, Joao Moutinho, and Hugo Viana all came through the ranks at Sporting. However, the most famous (and valuable) players credited to Sporting are Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo. Figo left Sporting to go to Barcelona for £2.2 million, where he was sold to Real Madrid for £37 million. Ronaldo was sold to Man United for £12.24 million, who sold him to Real Madrid for £80 million.

FC Barcelona (Who could argue with this)

FC Barcelona’s Cuidad Esportiva, or La Masia was established in 1979, and since that time world class international after world class international has been developed to help cement Barcelona as one of the greatest team’s in world of football today. La Masia can also be looked at in the same vein as Manchester United’s, in that they have produced as many great players who went on to find success elsewhere than at the Camp Nou. Barca’s academy alumni boasts names such as Ramon Caldere, Albert Ferrer, Josep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta, Victor Valdes, Pepe Reina, Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, not to mention superstars like, Busquets, Bojan, Pedro, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi.

Players developed by Barca who moved on include Ivan De La Pena, Luis Garcia, Mikel Arteta and Cesc Fabregas. Barcelona ‘s B team have players who could probably get into any Premiership team, but would rather play for the B’s as they know is it only a matter of time before they step up to play for the greatest team on the planet.

I could have mentioned clubs like Standard Leige, PSV, FC Porto, Benfica, Roma who also have a great record for producing some of the world best players.

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