Why Barcelona and Man Utd have Europe's best academies
Arsenal lag behind Euro rivals after producing half as many top-flight footballers as Barcelona
Arsenal may have a reputation for developing young players, but when it comes to producing homegrown talent, the Gunners are lagging a long way behind rivals like Barcelona and Manchester United.
A new report shows that there are currently a remarkable 43 footballers trained at Barcelona's famous La Masia academy plying their trade in Europe's biggest leagues. Of that crop, 13 are on Barcelona's books and another 30 are playing for top-flight clubs in France, Spain, Germany, England and Italy.
The list, compiled by CIES Football Observatory, places Manchester United second on the list, credited with producing 36 of Europe's elite. There are 12 homegrown players at Old Trafford and a further 24 dotted around the continent's big leagues.
Real Madrid are third, having produced 34 players, eight of whom are still at the Bernabeu. By contrast Arsenal are equal ninth on the list with 22 players, almost half as many as Barcelona, with only seven still at the Emirates. Above them are Olympique Lyonnais, Paris Saint-Germain and Rennes from France, and Spanish clubs Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad.
"To be able to rely on homegrown talent in this way has provided a key competitive advantage for Barcelona over the last decade," says CIES, which cites Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramírez as the latest players to break through into a team containing La Masia graduates like Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta.
But the number of players in Europe's main leagues who were trained by top clubs but now play elsewhere "highlights the quality of training provided by these top teams, but also demonstrates the difficulty for youth academy players to breakthrough into the first team squad of the most competitive club".
Among the Manchester United exiles are players including Danny Welbeck of Arsenal, Stoke's Ryan Shawcross, Paul Pogba at Juventus and Sunderland captain John O'Shea.
Graduates from Barcelona and Real Madrid to have plied their trade in the Premier League include Mikel Arteta, Pepe Reina and Bojan Krkic (Barcelona) and Juan Mata and Roberto Soldado (Real Madrid).
The Daily Mail notes that some players, whose development was split between two clubs, appear twice. They include Cristiano Ronaldo, who counts for Sporting Lisbon and Man United, and Wayne Rooney, who was schooled at both Everton and United.