This XI of River Plate academy products to play in Europe since 2000 is outrageous

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A lot of fans like to wax lyrical about the youth systems around Europe that have created many of today's top players.

Ajax deserves a special mention - and they are still doing it today - while the likes of West Ham, Manchester United, Benfica and now Monaco have all produced some sure-fire stars down the years.

But, what about outside of Europe? The production line from Argentinian heavyweights River Plate is virtually unparalleled.

Of course, Alfredo Di Stefano is the standard bearer for River Plate products that found their way to Europe and the striker went on to become a club legend with Real Madrid, netting 307 times in 396 games.

Since the turn of the millennium, River have produced plenty of players to grace Europe and we decided to take a look at an XI of the stars they have made. There's not even room for the likes of Javier Saviola or Andreas D'Alessandro. It's pretty ridiculous, we're sure you will agree:

GK - Franco Costanzo

Okay, so it's a bit of an underwhelming start. But, River are hardly famed for their goalkeepers! Costanzo made his debut for the Buenos Aries giants in 2001 and went on to have successful spells with Alaves, FC Basel and Olympiakos. He gained one solitary cap for Argentina in 2003 but won multiple titles in his club career.

Olympiacos Piraeus goalkeeper Franco Cos

DF - Martin Demichelis

Please, remember the Demichelis that was an imposing figure for Bayern Munich rather than the aging defender on his last legs for Manchester City! He did the double four times in Germany, won the Premier League with City and claimed 51 caps for Argentina.

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DF - Mateo Musacchio

The Villarreal defender is one of the most in-demand stoppers in Europe. He has racked up 188 appearances for the Yellow Submarine since moving in 2010 and now has six Argentina caps to his name. Real Madrid continued to be linked with a move for the classy centre-back.

Villarreal v Monaco: UEFA Champions League

DF - Javier Mascherano

What a career this man has had. Now in his seventh season with Barcelona, Mascherano has converted from a tough tackling midfielder into a footballing centre-back. He has 136 caps for Argentina and has won literally everything there is to win at club level.

FC Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg

MF - Ariel Ortega

This 5'7" dynamo was one of the best dribblers in the world during his prime. He made his name playing in Europe for the likes of Valencia, Lazio and Parma in the 1990s, but he qualifies for this list by virtue of returning to River in 2000 and then having an ill-fated spell with Fernabache after that. A true genius on his day who grabbed 87 caps for Argentina.

River Plate's midfielder Ariel Ortega ce

MF - Pablo Aimar

When you're credited as one of Lionel Messi's big heroes, you know you're special. Aimar left River in 2000 and went to Valencia where he made a huge impression on a talented team that won two La Ligas and came runners-up in the Champions League. He was a dazzling playmaker in his prime.

Valencia's Argentinian Pablo Aimar celeb

MF - Erik Lamela

This man still some of his potential to fill, but there is no doubt that during his time with Roma he was one of the most exciting wingers in Europe. After a difficult first season with Spurs, the tricky wide-man started to excel before injuries robbed him of making progress this term.

AFC Bournemouth v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

MF - Matias Almeyda

When Serie A was at its peak in the late 90s and early 2000s, Almeyda was easily one of the top centre midfielders in the league. He was was a fierce competitor, but he also had terrific vision and the ability to pick a pass. He collected 35 caps for Argentina.

Bologna v Parma X

FW - Falcao

The Colombian is still doing it! After a couple of dodgy spells with Man United and Chelsea in the Premier League, Falcao has found his feet again with Monaco and his 30 goals this term look set to lead them to the Ligue 1 title. A bad knee injury at the start of 2014 certainly hurt his stock, but the man who scored 142 goals in 178 games across spells with Porto and Atletico Madrid will always be remembered as deadly.

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FW - Gonzalo Higuain

Here's another forward still at the top of his game. Strangely enough, Higuain was born in France where his father, Jorge, was playing for Stade Brestois 29. When his dad called it a day and returned to Argentina, Higuain eventually made a name for himself in the River Plate ranks before ultra-successful spells with Real Madrid, Napoli and now Juventus. He also has 31 goals in 68 Argentina appearances.

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FW - Hernan Crespo

Crespo was the world's most expensive player when he was bought by Lazio from Parma for £35.5M back in 2000 - that's how coveted he was. His clubs included Parma (when they were very good), Lazio, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Chelsea with the only team he failed to score 20 goals or more with in a single season being the latter. Although, he still bagged a respectable 13. He scored 34 goals in 65 appearances for the Argies and won countless titles during his illustrious career.

Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo runs with News Now - Sport News