Best football academies in the world

Thu 03 December 2020 | 16:30

A look at the Best football academies in the world from South American successful academies like River Plate and Santos to the most famous European football academy, La Masia.

Football academies have been an integral part of the industry since the birth of football in


. Traditionally, football-loving kids start playing in the streets, but somewhere in their childhood they need to get into a football academy if they want to make a career out of their passion.

The industrialization of football has had an effect on the development of youth football academies around the world. In a time that making fast profits and earning rapid success are what mostly matters in football, the academies have had to adopt to the changes in the industry.

Considering their policies regarding their graduates, nowadays football academies can be put into three categories. Some are famous for bringing up talents with the intention of selling them later to bigger clubs. South American football academies are mostly in this category.

Some other famous football academies invest on their youngsters mostly for their own benefits and their graduates usually end up playing for the senior side of the club. Among the most famous examples of academies in this category are Valencia and Athletic Bilbao academies.

Lastly, there are those of the best soccer academies in the world whose youth systems policies are a combination of the first two categories. These academies are famous both for selling their products to other teams and for using them as future generations of their senior sides. Manchester United, Ajax Amsterdam and 

FC Barcelona

 are perfect examples of the third category.

In the following article we will have a look at the history of the 

Best football academies in the world

 and you will be amazed to find out where some of your favorite stars started their career.

Introducing the Top ten Best football academies in the world

In the following article we present you with a list of the top ten Best football academies in the world including Barcelona's famous academy, La Masia and Manchester United and Ajax Amsterdam successful academies.

Dinamo Zagreb

One of the

best football schools in the world

over the past seventy years, Dinamo Zagreb has produced many legends of the game from the Ballon d'Or winner,

Luka Modric

to former Yoguslavia stars, Vedran Corluka, Eduardo, Robert Prosinecki and Zvonimir Boban.

Dinamo Zagreb academy was founded in 1952. The first junior team of the academy was coached by one of the legends of Easter European football, Maks Mihelcic. The youth academy is known as Hitrec-Kacian and was first established in 1967.

Among the more recent famous graduates of Dinamo Zagreb academy are: Eduardo da Silva, Niko Kranjcar, Dejan Lovren and Mateo Kovacic.

Athletic Bilbao

The Basque football club is famous for their tradition of using only Basque players in their senior team.  Therefor the club's academy has been the starting point for Spanish stars like Aymeric Laporte, and the world's most expensive goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Easily one of the

Best Youth Academies in World Football

, Athletic Bilbao youth academy is known as the Cantera. Its motto is 'with homegrown players, we won't need imports' and it clearly shows the club's policy towards its graduates.

One of the most important achievements of

Athletic Bilbao

academy was accomplished in 2017 as 17 players of the first team were from Athletic Bilabo's academy.

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Real Madrid (La Fabrica)

Although Real Madrid's youth academy has not been as successful as their rival's, Barcelona, they have produced some of the best stars of football history, most of them ended up as club legends. Raul, Iker Casillas, Guti, Marco Asensio and Dani Carvajal are among the most famous of them.

Some other Real Madrid academy graduates like Alvaro Morata and Achraf Hakimi have found success in other clubs.

Real Madrid

youth acadmy is called La Fabrica which translate in English as the factory. The academy was founded in 1942.

Real Madrid B team, known as Castilla is the most successful B team in the history of Spanish football. Castilla even once reached the final of Copa del Rey and their rivals in the final was no other team than Real Madrid's senior side.

The youth system of the academy was established in 1950 by Miguel Malbo, under the guidance of the club's legendary president, Santiago Bernabeu.

Schalke 04 (Knappenschmiede)

For many years

Schalke 04

academy has been among the forerunners of German footballs. The youth system of the academy has incredibly high quality standards. Alongside Bayern Munich academy, it is considered as the best football academy in Germany.

Many of Germany's latest golden generation stars graduated from Schalke's academy. Among the most famous of them are: Manuel Neuer, Benedikt Howedes, İlkay Gundogan, Mesut Ozil, Max Meyer, Julian Draxler and Leroy Sane.

Whats unique about Schalke's academy is that it has been the starting point for many kids whose parents were immigrants, mostly from Turkey, Poland and Italy.


The fact that the best player in the history of football, Pele was a product of Santos football academy clearly shows why it is considered as one of the

best football academies in the world



Academy's main goal throughout its history has been to discover talented young players who has future potential to play for Santos' first team. But because of the changes in the football industry many of Santos academy graduates end up playing in European clubs.

However, many of the best graduates of Santos academy plays at the club's senior side, at least for the first few seasons of their careers. Among the most famous products of the academy are:


, Willian, Robinho and Marcelo.

Santos won Brazil's top League in the 2000-01 season while having 15 of their players from their own academy. They sure will continue to produce world-class talents in the years ahead.

Sporting Lisbon

Well, any football academy responsible for bringing up two Ballon d'Or winners, Luis Figo and

Cristiano Ronaldo

can consider itself as one of the

most successful academies in world football


Sporting Lisbon's Academy was the first and only academy in Europe to receive the ISO9001:2008, which is a quality certification awarded by EIC. During Euro 2004, the academy was one of the training grounds for the Portugal national team.

The quality of the academy is so good that many other European clubs have chosen the Sporting's Academy for training during summer preparation plans.

Among the academies most famous graduates are: Beto, Eric Dier, Nani, Joao Mario, William Carvalho and Ricardo Quaresma.

Bayern Munich

One of the

best soccer academies in the world


Bayern Munich

academy was founded in 1902 and was reconstructed in 1995. It has educated many players who have become regulars in the Bundesliga and Germany.

In 2006 Bayern bought a land near its new stadium, Allianz Arena with the idea of building a new youth academy. The project was started in 2015 with a cost of 70 million Euros.

Bayern wanted their new academy to have bigger facilities. Another reason was that despite the senior team's success, Bayern suffered many times due to lack of competitiveness with other clubs at youth level.

Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Maier, Klaus Augenthaler, Markus Babbel, Philipp Lahm, Mats Hummels, Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger are some of the most famous products of Bayern Munich academy in its history.

Manchester United

Manchester United

unbelievable achievements in the 1999-00 season was a triumph for its high quality academy as the core of the team was built around the academies golden generation known as the Class of 92.

Many of United's best players under former manager Sir Alex Ferguson were from Manchester's academy. Some of the most famous products of the academy are:

Notable Graduates: Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Jonny Evans, Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Markus Rashford.

 Ajax Amsterdam

Ajax have long since been renowned as one of the great European producers of talent, with the

Champions League

winning side of the mid-'90s legendary in their success based around a core of home-grown players.

Ajax football academy was founded in 1900. It is one of the oldest and best football academies in the world.

Ajax Academy is working based on their famous TIPS (Technique, Insight, Personality and Speed) model. These qualities are important for Ajax. They believe that Personality and Speed are generally innate properties, but players can improve their Technique and insight during their first steps as a footballer.



youth system is one of the Best Youth Academies in World Football. It is famous for producing many great Dutch stars throughout their history. among their most faous graduates are: Johan Cruyff, Frank Rijkaard, Dennis Bergkamp, the de Boer brothers, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder.

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Barcelona (La Masia)

This is one thing Barcelona can confidently say they are more than a club at. In La Masia, Barcelona has the best youth academy of the world. Actually La Masia is more than a football academy since the kids are thought a certain way of life and a philosophy of football unique to Barcelona, and to some extent Ajax Amsterdam.

La Masia is easily one of the best football academies in the world. Discipline, humility and team work are among the virtues La Masia tries to pass down to new generations. So as Dani Alvez once said, and

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

complained about, even the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi behave like 'good boys'.

Established in 1950, La Masia is the fruit of the efforts of one of the key figures of football history, Johan Cruyff. La Masia translate in English as the farm. The reason for naming of the academy was that the current building of La Masia was the club's farm for many years until Cruyff had the idea of turning it into a modern football academy.

La Masia is definitely one of the most successful academies in world football. In 2010 Barcelona fielded its starting line up with eleven players from its own academy. More amazing was that two years later, three of the best La Masia graduates, Xavi,


and Messi all made the Ballon d'Or shortlist. An award which Lionel Messi won eventually.

Honorary Mentions:

The following is a list of some of the Best football academies in the world which for various reasons did not make it to our list, but their achievements could not be neglected and so we have decided to include them as Honorary mentions.

  • Sao Paulo

The Brazilian football academy has produced some of the best talents in the history of the game. Among their most famous graduates are: Oscar, Lukas Moura, Eder Militao and

David Neres


  • West Ham United

You will be amazed to know that players like Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Paul Ince and Joe Cole are all among the West ham academy graduates.

  • Anderlecht

One of the best football academies in Eastern Europe, Anderlecht football academy has introduced some great stars throughout its history, most famous of them are: Vincent Kompany, Lucas Biglia, Leander Dendoncker and

Romelu Lukaku


  • Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund academy has always been home to some of the most talented German footballers and is famous for getting the best out of young talents. Many of the top graduates spend at least the start of their career with the club. Marcel Schmelzer, Thorsten Fink, Nuri Sahin, Mario Gotze, Lars Ricken and Marco Reus are some of the best players who came out of Dortmund youth academy.

  • AS Roma

Francesco Totti alone is a perfect example of the quality of

AS Roma

's academy and the reason it is considered as one of the best football schools in the world. Many of the academy products ended up playing for Roma senior team. Some of the most famous of them are Danielle de Rossi, Alessandro Florenzi, Alessio Romagnoli and Andrea Bertolacci.

So here was SportMob's article about the best football academies in the world. Which football club do you support? Any famous academy you would want to add to the list? Let us know in the comment section.




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