We’ll start with a joke/story.
A tourist stopped next to the Longleat House and was so amazed by its lawn, he asked the gardener what’s his secret.
The gardener replied: “It’s easy remove overhanging shade from plants, shrubs and trees. Improve drainage every spring and autumn by removing moss and thatch, then use a hollow-tine all over to aerate the lawn, and fill the resulting holes with sharp sand. If it’s a shady lawn, and you can’t remove the cause, broadcast grass seed for shady areas after the above. Now, do this for 200 years and you`ll have a lawn like this at your home”.
This is, in a nutshell, “Barcelona’s great secret”.The great report on youth academies in Europe, commissioned by the European Club Association reveals the lengths Barca go to in order to get the best young talents into their academy.
They Catalans spend around €10m a year on operating La Masia and a further €10 million on the formation of an under-19 squad and Barcelona B.
36 coaches are employed by the club in order to ensure the 220 youth players in attendance at La Masia follow the philosophy and guidelines of the club.
Barca employ 25 scouts to pick up the very best talent, with all players from eight-year-olds up to the Under-19′s do the same passing and intercepting drills throughout their time at La Masia.
Now, this has been going on for 25 years now and that’s why Barcelona can turn up to a game with 11 players who grew up in the club and probably win it.
By compression, Ajax spend €6m on their academy (a more significant % of their income than Barcelona spend on their academy, which explains why Ajax have so many academy graduates in their first team). Inter, surprisingly, also spend €6m a year on their academy (Like French Lens). Sporting Lisbon (responsible for creating Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and more) spend €5m a year on their academy.
Arsenal and Bayern Munich spend €3m each on their academy and it works well for them, as a lot of their first team members are academy graduates. However, it is safe to assume that if you spend €20m a year on your academy for 25 years, your entire first team will be composed from your academy graduates – saving you hundred of millions on transfers and agent fees. €20m for clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United, Bayern Munich or Chelsea, are not even 10% of their income.
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