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5 Most Valuable Academies In Europe

by Abiodun Apena
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Youth academies are a huge fundamental part of any football club world-wide, because they help youngsters who’re interested in becoming a superstar develop and potentially become good enough to command gigantic fee in the transfer-market.

There have been some incredible academy players stories over the years in world football who have gone on to display some commendable performances at the highest-level of the game, and some of those academies success stories comes from club’s like Barcelona, Benfica, Chelsea, Real Madrid et al.

While some clubs are insistent that players in the academy are given a fair chance alongside their expensive recruits from the transfer market, some are loan or sold outrightly in order to create chance for their latest recruits.

According to CIES Football Observatory, this rankings of the most valuable academies world-wide is about clubs who have generated the most-income from sales of their academy talents since 2015.

SL Benfica – (€670m)

In deciding the most valuable academies in Europe, we’ll take into account income generated directly from the transfers of players who have spent at least three years in a given club’s academy between the age of 15 to 21.

As such Portuguese giant Benfica comes first on our ranking having made a whopping €670million in profit from the sales of their academy players over the past seven years.

The sales profit of €670 million made by SL Benfica from their academy talent supplies is spread between 104 players, and as a matter of fact the Portuguese giant still own over 20 players whose transfer rights are still theirs.

Benfica’s academy players who have been sold for eye-watering sum in the transfer market includes Joao Felix, Ederson, Raul Jimenez, Renato Sanchez and Ruben Dias.

Chelsea – (€630m)

While academy graduates like Mason Mount, Trevor Chalobah and Reece James are still running the lengths of Stamford Bridge Stadium, players like Andreas Christensen and Callum Hudson-Odoi have moved elsewhere permanently or on-loan.

While it’s a known fact that Chelsea youth-system produces many players who have spent more time out on-loan than their own club’s first team squad, some of them have broken into the main team and prove their worth on the pitch in recent year.

However, for those who couldn’t make it into the main team, they are expected to be traded which led to Chelsea generating a whopping €630 million income since 2015 through the sales of academy youngsters.

FC Barcelona – (€581m)

Barcelona have over the years conquered the world with a large-chunk of their academy talents including Pedro, Sergio Basquet, Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Victor Valdes, Lionel Messi and Carles Puyol.

While some of the La Masia academy achieved remarkable success at Barcelona, players like Bojan Krkic, Tello, and Jeffren couldn’t prove themselves worthy to merit a starting shirt before leaving Nou Camp.

However, despite that Barcelona was able to racked in a mouthwatering profit of €581 million in terms of selling their academy talents who couldn’t lay claim to a starting shirt at the club.

AFC Ajax Amsterdam – (€555m)

Ajax have over the years been seen as one of Europe’s finest producer of academy players who go on to become superstars at the club or after leaving the Dutch giant.

The “de Godenzonen” Champions League winning side in the mid-90s will forever remain one of the best academy players to ever graced the “Johan Cruyff Arena” with their amazing talents.

While some clubs have been faced with some sort of draught in producing academy talents, Ajax academy supply never runs dry and they’ve over the years make huge profit from players sales which includes Wesley Sneijder and a host of other top talents that passed through the four- walls of the academy.

Manchester City – (€510m)

In terms of total profits generated from the sales of academy players world-wide English clubs rule the roost, in that regard the Cityzens have also done well investing in their youth system which in the produced pure talent like Phil Foden.

The city of Manchester have long been dominated in terms of success achieved and talents produced by the Red side of Manchester, but recently with help of Qatari investors the Cityzens have able to produce top talents from the club’s academy.

Phil Foden is a big testament to the kind of success City academy has been able to achieve recently, while some who couldn’t make it into the team proper have been shipped elsewhere to continue their professional career.


This is a statistical ranking based on CIES Football Observatory findings concerning the most valuable football academies world-wide. Though it is often said that statistics isn’t about everything in the beautiful game, however, they’re quite useful when putting into context teams who have proven to be the most valuable academies.

Clubs who don’t make the top 5 list don’t necessarily means they ain’t valuable, however, they would make top 10.

Paris Saint-Germain – (€491m)

Sporting CP – (€399m)

Arsenal – (€399m)

Real Madrid – (€359m)

FC Porto – (€350m)

This article was updated 2 months ago


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