Real Madrid named Europe’s greatest talent factory

Robin Bairner
Real Madrid named Europe’s greatest talent factory

Real Madrid produce more talent than any other club in Europe’s Big 5 leagues, according to a study by the CIES Football Observatory.

Los Blancos have 43 players currently playing as professionals around the continent, comfortably beating out second-placed Barcelona, who have nine fewer. Meanwhile, Ligue 1 side Lyon complete the podium with 31.

Manchester United are England’s top-performing side in this regard, with 24, while Serie A’s leading talent producers are Atalanta on 20. Finally, the Bundesliga’s top side is Stuttgart on just 19.

But all the clubs in the Big 5 league pale into comparison with Partizan when all 31 European top divisions are considered. The Serbian side have brought through 85 academy players to become professionals, while Ajax are next in this measurement on 77.

Rounding out the podium in this matrix is Dinamo Zagreb on 71.

Which Big 5 club produces the most young talent?

PlayersClubNationScoreAge
43Real MadridSpain69.127.2
32BarcelonaSpain62.127.3
31LyonFrance47.426.7
29PSGFrance51.923.3
28ValenciaSpain48.727.1
26Real SociedadSpain47.725.6
25Athletic ClubSpain47.726.8
25RennesFrance27.024.7
24Manchester UnitedEngland41.827.6
23ArsenalEngland36.426.3

But the report does not just study the volume of players produced; it also seeks to quantify the quality produced.

“For the first time, for each footballer, we also considered the number of domestic league matches played over the last year, the sporting level of clubs where they played them, as well as their age. This allowed us to calculate a weighted score reflecting the training work carried out by clubs also from a qualitative and temporal perspective,” it reports.

When the score is studied, it is Benfica (81.3) who lead the way when all European top flights are considered. Ajax (79.6) and Barcelona (78.2) are next on the list.

Restricting the study to just the Big 5 leagues sees Real Madrid (69.1), Barcelona (62.1) and PSG (51.9) come out on top.

Interestingly, the average age of the PSG players currently playing professionally in Europe is 23.3 – the fourth lowest in the Big 5 – which suggests that they are becoming increasingly prolific.

This compares to Madrid’s 27.2 and Barcelona’s 27.3, which implies the players who have come through their academies are now older.