Casino champions have a saying: success that’s repeated time and time again is no fluke. The clubs that have a history of producing game-defining football players are following a winning recipe. Of course, no two recipes are completely the same, but seeing results that are consistent and share the capacity to withstand the test of time implies they are based on something that works not only in theory, but in practice as well.
Today, we will take a journey through time to see what are the 6 best youth football academies that have emerged over the course of football history:
1 – Manchester United
Ever since the previous century, Manchester United is a name that’s synonymous with worldwide acclaim and success. In 2012, reports show that 24 of their players were scattered around Europe’s most prestigious leagues. Housing big-name players such as Jesse Lingard and Adnan Januzaj, their future looks at least as bright as their past.
2 – Dinamo Zagreb
Their principle of trying to have at least two players from every age group play in the main squad makes it one of the best football academy programs of all time. Year in and year out, the club spends more than one million euro on training their youth, and it tends to pay in spades. In the last five years, they have made at least 50 million euro by selling academy graduates, which shows this to be a profitable business model.
3 – Santos
How could we forget mentioning Santos, the club that gave Pele, one of the greatest football players of all time, the wings to propel towards stardom in 1950s? And let’s not forget Hanso, Neymar, and Robinho, some of their more recent talents. The culture of younger players learning from their seniors seems to be the guiding spirit behind how this club functions, so we can always look to them producing a new generation of football stars.
4 – Sporting Lisbon
Sporting Lisbon is known for having players of all ages appear in national team squads, which speaks volumes about the level of coaching the Alcochete academy manages to uphold. Think Cristiano Ronaldo, Miguel Veloso, and even Luis Figo from the older generation… these are the kind of players who emerge from their training. Throughout their history, more than 100 professional players have spawned from their youth system, which is an accomplishment in and of itself.
5 – Bayern Munich
With iconic gold stars on their uniforms that manifest the same energy as the gold stars you see when winning at slot games, Bayern Munich had to be mentioned on this list. Having produced young stars such as Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos, and David Alaba, the club’s youth development system is a force to be reckoned with. Given how much of a challenge it is to be training and managing hundreds of aspiring youngsters, it’s by no means surprising that running the academy costs them 3 million euro on a yearly basis. To summarize their approach, it’s all about living and breathing the club’s identity, as well as fostering mental and physical toughness in their players.
6 – Southampton
Speaking of massive investments, Southampton comes to mind with a recent investment of 30 million British pounds in upgrading their training ground. This is in hopes of being able to train countless other successful players like Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, not to mention Matt Le Tissier and Alan Shearer the club has managed to produce before the launch of its official academy.
Keep in mind these are only some of the examples we were able to cover in the scope of this article, as there are countless others such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Ajax, etc. But all of them follow a central theme of putting their faith into the youth who respects the club’s older players and learns from their accomplishments.