Most professional footballers come through the ranks of a youth academy, they have proven their worth and made it to the big stage. Some football academies are reputable for producing stars over the decades, and listing them is the essence of this post.
WHAT ARE FOOTBALL ACADEMIES?
In a football academy, a club will sign multiple players at a very young age and teach them football skills required to play at that club’s standard. Clubs are often restricted to recruiting locally based youngsters, but some larger clubs such as Arsenal, Real Madrid and Chelsea have recruited foreign talent.
Football academies are involved in the development of a footballer since the very start of his career. Their job involves recognizing the potential of youngsters and nurturing them with utmost care. And when a particular player makes it to the highest level, it is their hard work that reflects in his style of play.
Moreover, youth academies also play a vital role in maintaining the traditions and principles of their clubs; a crucial reason why they warrant huge financial investments at any footballing institution.
Many of the larger clubs in Europe such as Ajax and Feyenoord in the Netherlands, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain, Benfica, Sporting CP and Porto in Portugal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in England, FC Bayern Munich and Schalke 04 in Germany, among many others, are regarded as having some of the finest youth academies and have produced many players regarded as some of the best in world football. Other clubs such as Brazilian club Grêmio and São Paulo, Espanyol in Spain, Atalanta of Italy and English clubs Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Watford, Aston Villa and West Ham United, while not as financially successful as others, have a world class academy. West Ham’s youth academy is known as The Academy of Football and has produced many English talents that have gone on to play with larger clubs in the Premier League.
Another example is lower league clubs who have produced high quality players through the academy and sold them to keep the club running. A prime example of this is Crewe Alexandra who under Dario Gradi and his staff nurtured players into high quality players such as Danny Murphy and Dean Ashton and sold them.
An alternative name for a youth academy is “Centre of Excellence”. In English football these terms have distinct meanings and are licensed and regulated by The Football Association and The Football League.
Let’s go into the list straight away.
LIST OF TOP 7 FOOTBALL ACADEMIES IN THE WORLD IN 2018
1. BARCELONA FOOTBALL ACADEMY – LA MASIA
Barcelona football academy holds more than 300 young players, and has been praised since 2002 as the best in the world, being a significant factor in FC Barcelona’s European success.
In 2010, La Masia became the first youth academy to have trained all three finalists for the Ballon d’Or in a single year, with Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi and Xavi.
2. MANCHESTER UNITED FOOTBALL ACADEMY
This academy has never ceased to produce high class footballers over the years, some of the notable alumni of this academy include Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Pogba, and Gary Neville, Jese Lingard, Ryan Shawcross, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Danny Welbeck and lots more.
3. AJAX FOOTBALL ACADEMY
The Ajax Youth Academy is a football youth academy based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, from where the organization manages a total of 13 youth teams (ages 7–18). The academy is the primary youth clinic of Dutch footballing giants Ajax Amsterdam.
The Ajax youth system is famous for having produced and still producing many great Dutch internationals like Sjaak Swart, Johan Cruijff, Frank Rijkaard, Dennis Bergkamp, Frank and Ronald de Boer, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, John Heitinga, Nigel de Jong, Maarten Stekelenburg, and Gregory van der Wiel. Expect more from them.
4. SPORTING CP FOOTBALL ACADEMY – ACADEMIA SPORTING
Inaugurated in 2002, The Sporting Academy is the first of such size and quality to be constructed in Portugal. The Academy is one of the most modern and well equipped academies in Europe; situated in a tranquil environment and climate that is recommended for the preparation of football teams. Devoted to training and management, the complex is ready to prepare for football competition of any characteristic.
Sporting Clube de Portugal’s youth facility, a 250,000-square-meter complex just outside Lisbon, was once home to the likes of Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The complex features state-of-the-art training and recovery amenities to be sure, but the program, where Portuguese legend Luis Figo also got his start, has also received awards for its attention to trainees’ academic and ethical training.
5. BAYERN FOOTBALL ACADEMY
The FC Bayern Munich Junior Team is the youth academy for German football club Bayern Munich. The Junior Team was created in 1902 and restructured in 1995, the Bayern Junior Team once featured Franz Beckenbauer and Sepp Maier in the same defensive unit.
It has educated many players who have become regulars in the Bundesliga and Germany. The vision for the Junior Team is “to educate young players so that it will be possible for FCB to keep a global position in club football in the next millennium and its mission is “to have the best youth development in club football. Bayern Munich have to test before the school will accept and you can study free until you graduate if you have a talent.”
Bayern Munich Junior Team uses a 4–3–3 formation good system. Bayern Munich has scouts all over the world. Bayern Munich has developed a “Talent Day”. In 2003, Bayern Munich started partnering with other football clubs. The penultimate stage for youngsters at Bayern is Bayern Munich II.
Some of the big guns produced by this academy are Franz Beckenbauer, Thomas Muller, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck and so on.
6. BOCA JUNIORS FOOTBALL ACADEMY
Boca Juniors Reserves and Academy are the reserve and youth academy teams of Boca Juniors. The reserve team is coached by former club player Rolando Schiavi, who debuted in February 2015.
Boca Juniors is the most winning Torneo de Reserva championships with 21 titles won since it was established in 1910. Boca Juniors reserve team plays in the “Primera División de Reserva”, the reserve division of Primera División. Home matches are played at Complejo “Pedro Pompilio”, sited in La Boca neighborhood of Buenos Aires.
7. SOUTHAMPTON F.C. ACADEMY
Rounding up this list is Southampton which I am sure you must have been expecting. Everyone sure suspects they have a really good academy, and Liverpool’s actions over the years is a proof.
Executive director of football Les Reed has overseen a revolution at the South Coast club, one firmly rooted in the academy system. A new 30 million pound facility, opened last year.
Some of the talented alumni produced by this academy include Luke Shaw, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain, Gareth Bale and Alan Shearer amongst others.
Some notable alumni include Fernando Gago and Carlos Tevez.