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Which clubs have the most profitable youth academies in World football

Which football school has seen the best returns?

Real Madrid narrowly trail Benfica when it comes to which side has the best footballing academy, in a study based on how much money the sales of academy graduates has brought to the club, it has been revealed.

Los Blancos are rightly proud of their famous Valdebebas academy, and a recent study by Transfermarkt has revealed that they have stood to gain a massive 386m euros from players that trained there and were subsequently sold on between the years of 2012 and 2022.

The study includes players bought to the club at a young age, such as Martin Odegaard who joined when he was 15, and the rules stipulate that a player must appear for three years at the club between 15 and 21 to be considered.

Chief among their sales was Alvaro Morata, who has twice departed the club, netting them a hefty 86m euros in the process. Also among the sales are Odegaard (35m euros), Achraf Hakimi (43m euros), Marcos Llorente (40m euros) and Sergio Reguilon (30m euros), as well as several players sold for smaller fees.

However, they do not sit top of the tree, with Portugal continuing to prove a footballing hotbed and the famous Benfica academy topping the list with a whopping 543m euros raked in from selling their young stars.

Led by Joao Felix (who joined Atletico Madrid for over 100m euros), they have also sold the likes of Renato Sanches, Ruben Dias, Nelson Semedo and Nuno Tavares.

Who else is in the top 10?

Ajax sit third with €376m in sales, before a return to Portugal with Sporting’s own famous academy (363m euros).

Just behind them sit Monaco (largely thanks to their golden crop that saw Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Fabinho, Benjamin Mendy and Thomas Lemar all leave for huge fees) with €327m, while Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both round out the top 10 with €252 and €250M.


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Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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