Man United, Arsenal & Barcelona: Which team's academy has the most active players?

Man United have 24 academy players active across Europe's top five leagues

Which team has the best academy in world football?

It’s a question that has no right answer, especially given that the success of a club’s academy can change dramatically from decade to decade.

However, there are those big-name teams that will always be in contention to have their academy labelled as the very best by a hefty percentage of fans.

One of those teams is Manchester United. Despite the club’s decline in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, the Red Devils’ youth setup still produces a lot of talented players.

In fact, United currently have 24 active players that were trained at the club across Europe’s top five leagues.

Rashford & Greenwood with Man Utd

That puts them ninth in the CIES Football Obseravtory‘s rankings, the highest position of any Premier League team.

So which team takes the number one spot? Well, let’s find out…

*In accordance with the UEFA definition, training clubs are those where players have been for at least three seasons between 15 and 21 years of age.*

The 30 teams with the most academy players active in Europe’s top five leagues

30. River Plate

Active players: 15

River Plate players in action

29. FC Nantes

Active players: 15

28. Southampton

Active players: 15

27. AS Roma

Active players: 15

26. Benfica

Active players: 15

25. Manchester City

Active players: 16

Man City's Phil Foden

24. Osasuna

Active players: 17

23. AC Milan

Active players: 18

22. Bordeaux

Active players: 19

21. Stuttgart

Active players: 19

20. Sevilla

Active players: 19

Sevilla's Jesus Navas & Joan Jordan

19. Sporting Lisbon

Active players: 19

18. Celta Vigo

Active players: 20

17. Atalanta

Active players: 20

16. RC Lens

Active players: 20

15. Ajax

Active players: 20

Frenkie de Jong & Matthijs de Ligt

14. Chelsea

Active players: 20

13. Atletico Madrid

Active players: 21

12. AS Monaco

Active players: 22

11. Saint Etienne

Active players: 22

10. Arsenal

Active players: 23

Arsenal's Bukayo Saka

9. Manchester United

Active players: 24

8. Rennes

Active players: 25

7. Athletic Bilbao

Active players: 25

6. Real Sociedad

Active players: 26

5. Valencia

Active players: 28

Valencia's Carlos Soler

4. Paris Saint-Germain

Active players: 29

3. Lyon

Active players: 31

2. Barcelona

Active players: 32

1. Real Madrid

Active players: 43

Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane

Real Madrid take top spot by quite some distance, with 11 players more than bitter rivals Barcelona in second place.

Bayern Munich (14 players), Tottenham (13 players), Juventus (12 players), Liverpool (11 players) and Borussia Dortmund (11 players) are the notable absentees from the top 30.

United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Southampton are the five members of Premier League to feature, while La Liga is the most represented league with nine teams.

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