Academy football is a huge part of the English game and there is no sight for the supporter quite like being able to see one of their own grow and become a leader within their side. The joys for Tottenham Hotspur fans seeing Harry Kane lead the line is unrivalled, a young player who has worked hard to be part of the first team after joining at such a young age.These expert soccer picks often include some flattering pick that is linked to the star player.
Many clubs have strong academies and Manchester United are clearly one of the best. On the 15th of December 2019 Manchester United celebrated a milestone 4000th match in succession in which at least one academy player was present in the first team. The record went back nine decades and shows the sheer quality of the academy. One of the most famous groups of players to come through an academy system are the class of ’92. Those graduates were David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt,as well as brothers Phil and Gary Neville, who all were part of the Youth Cup winning side in 1992.
Those six players came into the Manchester United first team that year and were heavily relied upon in their Premier League winning season and over the next three years all had become major parts of the first team.They went on to prove Alen Hanson wrong who “you can’t win anything with kids”. United went on to have their most successful period of success throughout the 90s and early2000’s, with those young players bring home Premier League titles and Champions Leaguefinal victories. Ever since, United continue to develop players who go on to be key parts of their first teamas well as the England national team. Players like Marcus Rashford have come through the academy and been regulars in the first team and national team squads and is a positive role models to all who follow him.
Young blood is here to stay – In the 2019/20 season, every side in the Premier League used at least one academy graduate in their first team. One side who may not be at the top of the table each season but produce a large number of players who go on to do big things, are Southampton. The Saints have a history of being one of the most prolific developers of young talent in England. Alan Shearer, the all-time leading Premier League goal scorer was developed at the club along with cult hero Matthew LeTissier. Some more recent examples include Luke Shaw at Manchester United, Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had successes at Liverpool, while possibly the most famous graduate is Gareth Bale who went on to play for Tottenham Hotspur before a huge move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Today they are captained by academy graduate James Ward-Prowse who is earning attention from Gareth Southgate, England manager, with his performances. He is also considered to be the best free-kick taker in the world, as labelled by Thomas Frank prior toSouthampton’s match with Frank’s Brentford. Ward-Prowse has so far had 12 goals from direct free kicks, only David Beckham has more, with 18.
Arsenal is another side who have continually worked hard to bring young players through totheir first team from the academy. Tony Adams gave his whole career to the side who put their trust in him, while Bukayo Saka is the latest to take on a huge role in the first team from the academy. They have also had academy graduates go on to play for some of the biggest sides in Europe, such as Wojciech Szczesny who is with Juventus in the Italian Serie A.
Liverpool have been competing as one of the best sides in the world and some of that success has come with the development of players in their academy. No one more so that Trent Alexander-Arnold in this current squad, he has become one of the best right backs in the world and his delivery is second to none. There is more competition these days for places with some of the world’s best in the starting elven, though young players are often given their opportunities to shine by manager Jurgen Klopp. They have a strong history ofplayers such as Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Carragher all being stars in the league after graduating from the Liverpool academy.
Back in London, Chelsea’s academy products have once again stepped up into shing rolesin recent seasons. Mason Mount is not just a first team regular but an England regular aswell. Reece James has done the same, while Calum Hudson-Odoi is looking to keep progressing with some vital first team experience. Loans are a big part of the Chelsea youth journey, and many go and experience senior football on loan prior to making their Chelsea debuts. They invest heavily in their youth development, and it is showing more and more the impact it can have on the first team. The 2021/22 season is into its second half and for those looking at places their bets on some of these academy products making big impacts. Young players will continue to make a big impact on the Premier League and with this, academy football will keep receiving the significant investment that it warrants.