A report from the CIES Football Observatory has revealed that Real Madrid’s academy has the largest number of graduates playing in Europe’s five major leagues, while Athletic Club is the club using the most alumni in its own first team.
The CIES Football Observatory has carried out a study reviewing the clubs whose academies are contributing the most players to the various football leagues. In this report, clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Club and Valencia have been highlighted as doing a particularly good job in this respect. As for the parameters used to measure the success of each youth academy, the study was based on players who spent at least three seasons at a training club between the ages of 15 and 21.
The clubs with the most homegrown players in their own first-team squads
Thanks to a tradition and culture of developing talents, La Liga clubs have always been among the most committed to retaining talent from their own youth academies. With the CIES report, there are six La Liga clubs near the top of the ranking for teams in the five major European leagues who have the most homegrown players in their current first-team squads.
At the very top of this list is Athletic Club, as they have 16 players who passed through their Lezama academy in the current squad. In other words, no other club in Europe’s major leagues has more academy graduates in the first team. This is hardly surprising given the club’s philosophy of playing only with players who have grown up in the Basque Country.
After Athletic Club, there is another team from the Basque Country, as Real Sociedad are the second club on this ranking as they have 12 players from their own academy in this season’s first-team squad. Third in the ranking is another Spanish team, as Valencia have 11, while Osasuna and Las Palmas are fifth and sixth on this continental ranking with nine academy alumni each. Barcelona, meanwhile, have eight former academy players registered with their first team, putting them seventh in the ranking. Therefore, of the seven teams in Europe’s top five leagues with the most homegrown players in their first teams, six of them are from La Liga.
The clubs contributing the most players to the top five leagues
As for the ranking of which academies have produced the most players who now play in the top five leagues, Real Madrid’s La Fabrica leads this list with 44 players. For its part, La Masia of Barcelona is in second place with 40 players. There’s another Spanish academy near the top of the list, as Valencia’s football school has contributed 29 players to the top-tier European clubs, while Athletic Club and Lezama rank seventh with 24. These figures make La Liga the competition with the most clubs in this ranking, confirming that Spain is the country that exports more young football talent to Europe’s leading leagues than any other.
The overall ranking from the 48 leagues surveyed
If we widen the parameters and look at the ranking produced for the academies which have contributed the most players to a field of 48 leagues, the first La Liga club to appear is Barcelona, in eighth position. A little further down is Real Madrid, in 14th place, for this list of academies to have developed players who now play all over the world.
Examples of the success of the La Liga academies
As for the players who have made this success story possible, there are interesting examples in every La Liga team. At Athletic Club, there are the Williams brothers or the talent that is Oihan Sancet. There are even club captains, like Dani Carvajal and Sergi Roberto. Some veteran players count in this study, such as Jonathan Viera at Las Palmas, while newer prospects feature too, like Martin Zubimendi at Real Sociedad or Javi Guerra at Valencia. These academy graduates prove the worth of their clubs’ youth football projects and allow these clubs to dream big, which is why investment in academies and youth development projects remains so important.
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