Top 10: World's best youth academies

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With football salaries increasing and the demand for the top stars costing millions of pounds, many clubs look to youth as a way of developing potential talent. 

Barcelona use their academy to breed a team of championship winning players. Other teams like Ajax, keep themselves in the black by developing youngsters before selling them on. 

Whether they manage to keep hold of their home-grown talent or sell it on for huge profits, they all deserves a mention. 

So here is a list of the top ten academies in world football today.  

10. Liverpool (England)

We start off with the red half of Merseyside. Despite having entered the twilight of their careers, long serving duo Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher have been the club's stand out players for the last decade.

 Born and raised in Liverpool they have successfully worked their way up the ranks to captain and vice-captain respectively. Players currently coming through like Adam Morgan, Suso, Raheem Stirling and Andre Wisdom are looking like extremely bright prospects for the near future.

9. Sao Paulo (Brazil)

Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil with over 12 million inhabitants. The football team are famed in Brazil for being the best club to bring through talent. 

It's a tricky one in Brazil, so many clubs bring through fantastic skilful players, and Sao Paulo are certainly going in the right direction with famous graduates such as Lucas Moura (PSG), Kaka and Oscar. With a whole host of talent waiting to be discovered in Brazil, Sao Paulo is certainly a top developer of young players.

8. Southampton (England)

Wayne Bridge, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gareth Bale - do those names ring a bell? All four were developed in the famed academy in the south of England and all 4 have gone on to excel for country one way or another. 

With even more great prospects seeping through into the first team this season such as highly acclaimed 17-year-old left back Luke Shaw and England under-21 regular James Ward-Prowse. If you're wondering where England's new super-talent is coming from, don't be surprised if it's Southampton.

7. Feyenoord (Netherlands)

At Feyenoord this is more of a growing project than a famous old set up. Only Robin van Persie and Jonathan De Guzman have come out of the club in recent years.

Feyenoord has only recently been producing world class talent whom have been quoted with big transfer moves to Europe's elite. There is a lot of speculation over the futures of recent graduates Bruno Martins Indin, Jordy Clasie and Stefan De Vrij which highlights the good work being done at the 'Varkenoord'.

6. Arsenal (England)

Arsenal’s academy is known as one of the best in British football for the fast tracking of players in to the football limelight. It is almost certain that with a youth policy such as Arsene Wenger's Arsenal were going to be a force in the youth set up rankings, with the likes of Ray Parlour, Andy Cole, Ashley Cole, Jack Wilshere and a whole heap more all starting their football careers with the north London side. 

Player's such as Gedion Zelalem, Serge Gnabry and Hector Bellerin have been grabbing all the headlines in the recent NextGen competition, maybe the new crop of stars can finally bring silverware to the Emirates?

5. Santos (Brazil)

Another of Brazil's academies makes it in to the rankings, Santos, another of Sao Paulo's highly successful team's. Probably known by many because of to having Neymar on their books, as well as housing some of Brazil's footballing legends; Pele, Coutinho and Pepe.  

Santos is constantly transferring youngsters up through the ranks into the first-team squad, successful players include the world famous Robinho, Ganso ,Diego and ex Premier League stars Elano and Giovanni (Manchester City and Hull respectively). A solid institution of football development.

4. Manchester United (England)

Home to one of England's greatest ever footballer's, David Beckham. Manchester United is the most popular club in the world and has an academy system to match, simply outstanding! 

Former player's include veterans and one-club-men Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville as well as current stars including world-class Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique and Giuseppe Rossi. 

United have a strong management too with the likes of club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and current deputy to Alex Ferguson Mike Phelan having taken the reins at the world famous academy, winning trophy after trophy in the process.

3. Sporting (Portugal) 

A club who's youth squads are equally as good as the first team, Sporting Lisbon has one of the world's greatest youth training facility's based in Alcochete.

Sporting recently reached the semi-final of the NextGen series but this was considered an underachievement – indicative of the quality. World famous names have progressed through the academy. Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Nani, Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho, the list goes on and on. Sporting’s academy currently has 39 titles to it's name, the best in Portuguese history. 

2. Ajax (Netherlands)

Yet another Dutch club in the top ten ranking. The Dutch influence in this top ten shows what a good job the Dutch Football Association programme is doing to develop their footballers. 

Despite one or two exceptions, the whole Ajax first team is made up from academy graduates. Legends like Johan Cruyff, Frank De Boer, Marco Van Basten and current assistant manager and former Arsenal star Dennis Bergkamp. 

Virtually the Netherlands’ entire national side player's come through the Ajax academy at some stage or another. But Ajax do not only develop Dutch players. One player in high demand is the Danish Viktor Fischer with an impressive 10 goals this season, as well as Belgian centre back pairing Thomas Vermaelen and Jan Vertonghen.

1. Barcelona (Spain)

La Masia - world famous, simply the undisputed number one in this ranking. Created in 1979 after Johan Cruyff wanted to emulate the Ajax model and bring it to Barcelona. 

The names of the players graduating from this place simply speak for the programme itself. The likes of Cesc Fabregas, Jordi Alba, Iniesta, Xavi, Carles Puyol, Pep Guardiola and possibly the greatest footballer of all time, the mercurial and world famous Argentine ace Lionel Messi. 

On the cover of virtually everything to do with football, Messi moved to La Masia as a teenager after being spotted by one of the Barcelona scouts. He has since won four Ballons d'Or awards in succession. Also similar to Ajax, a high percentage of the first team squad is made up from La Masia graduates. An unbelievable work of achievement.

Other academies which deserve recognition include:

River Plate
PSV Eindhoven
Real Madrid

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeFootball Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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