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FootballNewsThe EditorREVEALED: Barcelona No1 for producing players for clubs in Europe’s elite leagues

REVEALED: Barcelona No1 for producing players for clubs in Europe’s elite leagues


By Nick Harris

SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year

13 December 2012

Barcelona have produced more footballers currently earning a living as first-team players across Europe’s elite ‘Big 5’ divisions than any other club in the world, Sportingintelligence can reveal.

The Spanish giants have been responsible for the development of 38 players at top-flight clubs in either Spain’s La Liga, England’s Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga 1 or France’s Ligue 1.

The definition of ‘produced’ for these purposes means that a player spent three or more years within the development programme of the club in question specifically between the ages of 15 and 21, which are considered a footballer’s most important ‘formative’ years.

The vast majority of players can cite one club where they were developed. In the case of this study, the backgrounds of 2,286 players at the 98 ‘Big 5’ clubs have been considered. Of those, 2,170 were ‘products’ of one specific club and the rest (116) can be attributed to two clubs developing the player for three years each during the formative period.

The data for this study comes from the CIES Football Observatory in Switzerland. For more details about them, see the foot of this article.

In total, 805 different clubs around the world from all levels of football have ‘produced’ at least one of the 2,286 players each.

Of Barcelona’s 38 players, 36 of them had Barca as their ‘primary producer’, or in other words Barca were the first club where they spent three or more years between 15 and 21. They include Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol among others.

Fourteen of the 38 are still with Barca while 24 play elsewhere, including Chelsea’s Oriol Remeu, Liverpool’s Pepe Reina and Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta.

Two of Barca’s 38 ‘products’, Isaac Cuenca and Cristian Tello, are counted as ‘secondary’ products having been previously been with CF Reus and Espanyol respectively. Barca have nonetheless also had them for the requisite period.

After Barcelona, the most prolific producers of talent for the ‘Big 5’ are Lyon of France (31 players), Real Madrid (29), Rennes (24) and Manchester United (24).

Those top five clubs (of 805, or 0.6 per cent) have produced six per cent of the players, or 10 times as many as is ‘typical’.

The top 42 clubs (of 805, or five per cent) have produced 30 per cent of the players.

The top 42 and the breakdown of the players they have produced is in this first graphic.

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Manchester United have produced more players than any other English club for the 98 clubs currently in the ‘Big 5’ divisions: 24 of them, nine of whom are still at United (including Evans, Giggs, Cleverley, Scholes and Welbeck) and 15 of whom playing elsewhere, from Phil Neville at Everton to Kieran Richardon at Fulham, Ron-Robert Zieler at Hannover 96, Paul Pogba at Juventus and Ryan Shawcross at Stoke City.

Four of United’s 24 products are ‘secondary’ products, with United playing a key role in developing them after another club had had them for an earlier chunk of the 15-21 formative years. These four are the Da Silva brothers, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The second graphic isolates only the top English teams in terms of producing players currently in the ‘Big 5’.

United are followed by Arsenal (20), Aston Villa (15) and Tottenham (15) then West Ham and Newcastle (13 each) and Manchester City, Southampton and Chelsea (all 12).

Notable in this graphic is how some key lower-league clubs have punched well above their weight to produce players for elite clubs. Luton Town of the Conference produced players now at Southampton, West Ham, Wigan and Norwich, for example, while Crewe have produced players now earning their corn at Manchester United, Aston Villa, Sunderland and West Brom.

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It should be stressed: these figures only relate to current first-team players in the ‘Big 5’ divisions in Europe; players who were at the ‘producing’ clubs for at least 3 years between 15 and 21, and have played league football for one of the current 98 clubs this season.

Sportingintelligence has a separate research project underway to assess which clubs have produced the most professionals within the English game (all four main divisions), and is exploring ways to broaden this to discover which clubs globally produce the most players for the professional industry as a whole. This may take some time!

Outside of the top 42 producers, the rest of the 805 clubs who have produced players in the Big 5 are listed (simply by the number of players) at the bottom of this article from Mallorca to CAI Comodoro Rivadavia via Stoke, Club Deportivo Guadalajara, Arsenal Sarandi, SG Blaubach-Diedelkopf, Friguigbe Conakry, Hednesford Town, Jeju United, Admira Wacker Mödling and all points in between.


The CIES Football Observatory academic team is currently working on the fifth edition of the Demographic Study which will be launched next January (an excerpt of the last report may be downloaded here). The 2013 published analysis will include nearly 11,500 players at 478 clubs in 31 top division leagues of UEFA member associations. For more information, please contact them at


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The ‘other producers’ (in addition to main table above)

12 players (clubs ranked 43-52)

RCD Mallorca, RC Celta de Vigo, Sevilla, Manchester City, Borussia Mönchengladbach, SC Bastia, Southampton , Nantes, Chelsea , SV Werder Bremen.

11 players (clubs ranked 53-57)

Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, RC Lens, CA Osasuna, Metz, Borussia Dortmund.

10 players (clubs ranked 58-65)

Torino Calcio, SS Lazio, Liverpool, Olympique de Marseille, Hamburger SV, OGC Nice, AS Nancy-Lorraine, RC Strasbourg.

9 players (clubs ranked 66-72)

Racing Club Avellaneda, Málaga CF, Club Nacional Montevideo, Eintracht Frankfurt, Le Mans UC, Brescia Calcio, Basel.

8 players (clubs ranked 73-77)

SpVgg Greuther Fürth, Sporting Clube de Portugal, ES Troyes, Danubio, Empoli FC.

7 players (clubs ranked 78-88)

Rosario Central, RC Deportivo La Coruña, Real Zaragoza, Pescara Calcio, Grenoble Foot, Leeds United, Everton, AS Cannes, VfL Wolfsburg, Reading, Sampdoria UC.

6 players (clubs ranked 89-103)

Real Valladolid CF, UD Las Palmas, SSC Napoli, Sunderland AFC, Treviso, FK Crvena Zvezda, Levante UD, Martigues, FK Partizan, Parma, Middlesbrough, 1. FSV Mainz 05, ASEC Abidjan, Villarreal CF, Hannover 96.

5 players (clubs ranked 104-128)

Real Sporting de Gijón, SP Corinthians, Sheffield United, Zürich, FK Vojvodina, Olympique Nîmes, GNK Dinamo Zagreb, Karlsruher SC, OFK Beograd, HNK Hajduk Split, AC Cesena, AEK Athens, CSD Colo Colo, Amiens SC, Club Atlético Banfield, CA Huracan, CD Tenerife, Coritiba, Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, Cagliari Calcio, Lorient, Feyenoord Rotterdam, AS Bari, Clube Atlético Mineiro, Blackburn Rovers FC.

4 players (clubs ranked 129-156)

Real Oviedo, Vitoria Bahia, Swansea City AFC, PSV Eindhoven, São Paulo, Standard Liège, SE Palmeiras, SL Benfica, Maccabi Haifa, LB Châteauroux, Kadji Sport Academy Douala, Figueirense, KRC Genk, Genoa 1893, Luton Town, Newell’s Old Boys, IFK Göteborg, Guarani Futebol Clube, Clube Regatas Flamengo, Brondby IF, Crystal Palace, Crewe Alexandra, Bologna, Botafogo, Charlton Athletic, Grasshopper Club Zürich, 1. FC Nürnberg, AC Fiorentina.

3 players (clubs ranked 157-218)

Panathinaikos, Varzim SC, US Boulogne, Portsmouth, RSC Anderlecht, Stade Bordelais, Vicenza Calcio, Preussen Münster, Stade Lavallois, Stoke City, Vélez Sarsfield, Reggina Calcio, VfL Bochum, UJA Alfortville, Santos Futebol Clube, Universidad Catolica, Real Racing Club de Santander, Universidad de Chile, West Bromwich Albion, SK Slavia Praha, Wimbledon, SK Sturm Graz, Sport Club Internacional, Norwich City, Missing, Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense, Independiente Avellaneda, Fluminense, Gueugnon, Fortuna Düsseldorf, Northampton Town, Hansa Rostock, Hradec Králové, Ipswich Town, Defensor Sporting Club, Cremonese US, Albacete Balompié, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, AC Venezia, Etoile Sportive Sahel, Diambars Academy, Alemannia Aachen, AC Ajaccio, Estudiantes La Plata, Bolton Wanderers, Club de Deportes Cobreloa, Club Deportivo Guadalajara, Deportivo Cali, Elche CF, ASOA Valence, Atletico Nacional Medellin, Como Calcio, Cardiff City, US Foggia, Piacenza, Porto, Dinamo Bucureşti, Hellas Verona, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, US Lecce, Twente, EA Guingamp.

2 players (clubs ranked 219-334)

Universitario de Deportes, Real Murcia CF, Peterborough United, RS Futebol Clube Alvorada, UA Maracaibo, Salernitana Sport, Vasco da Gama, San Lorenzo Almagro, Wigan Athletic, SC Braga, Tours, Queens Park Rangers, Pontevedra CF, SC Rot-Weiss Essen, Valenciennes, Seoul, Paris, Servette, Rosenborg BK, SOpava, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Racing CP Paris, Ternana Calcio, SK Rapid Wien, Tranmere Rovers, SK Sigma Olomouc, UC Albinoleffe, Skeid Oslo, Red Star, Paulista Futebol Clube, Sport Club Corinthians Alagoano, Rimini Calcio, Peñarol Montevideo, Vitesse Arnhem, Stabæk Fotball, Watford, Stade Brestois, Olympiacos, Gamba All Blacks, Gimnasia La Plata, Nottingham Forest, Fenix, Marsonia Slavonski Brod, Mulhouse, Oxford United, Helsingborgs IF, Lausanne-Sport, Saarbrücken, FK Radnički Jugopetrol, Malmö FF, St. Pauli, Miramar Misiones, KUerdingen 05, Monza Calcio, Grimsby Town, ND Triglav, St-Gallen, Livingston, Hércules CF, Lodigiani AS, Odense BK, Galatasaray SK, Old Boys Basel, Lyngby BK, Hibernian, Hamilton Academical, Jeanne d’Arc Dakar, Sète, Ascoli Calcio, Boavista, Belasica Strumica, Calcio Padova, Deportivo Alaves, ASD Lodigiani, CA San Lorenzo de Almagro, Carl Zeiss Jena, BK Frem, AC Reggiana, AS Cittadella, Alianza Lima, Deportivo Moron, CE L’Hospitalet, CA Independiente, Celtic, ASD Giulianova, Centre Salif Keita, Cosenza Calcio, Cercle Olympique Bamako, AS Beauvais, Chamois Niortais, CSKA Sofia, América de Cali, AS Génération Foot, Club Atlético Talleres, AS Varese, Club Cerro Porteño, Deportivo Saprissa, Arsenal Sarandi, Burnley, Arminia Bielefeld, Envigado, Audax Club Sportivo Italiano, Etoile Filante BFA, Academia Deportiva Cantolao, Beerschot AC, Evian Thonon Gaillard, RC Besançon, Urawa Red Diamonds, SBV Excelsior, Udinese Calcio, Rot-Weiss Ahlen, Levallois SC, KAA Gent, AZ Alkmaar, CS Sedan, Calcio Catania.

1 player (clubs ranked  335-805)

VfL Neckarau, Pro Sesto AC, TSV Forstenried, Sant’Anastasia, US Chantilly, Santiago Wanderers, Planète Champions, Racing Ferrol, UD Alzira, SK Slovan Bratislava, University of California, Rangers, SG Wattenscheid 09, Pro Vercelli USC, Shelbourne, Santutxu, Tractorul Brasov, Sligo Rovers, TuS Recke, Slovan Mavrica, UD Salamanca, Unirea Dej, SM Montrouge, Somzee, US Sassuolo, Sonderjysk Elitesport, VfB Lübeck, Sorrento Calcio, Viking FK, Pavia, Waterford United, Pécsi MFC, Plymouth Argyle, Spal Ferrara, Sao Bento, TSV Stellingen 88, Palmeiras, Quilmes, RC Epernay Champagne, Real Valladolid, Sao Caetano, UE Tarrega, SpVgg Landshut, União São João, SpVgg Ruhmannsfelden, Partizani Tirana, SpVgg Unterhaching, University of Portland, SpVgg Vreden, Portuguesa São Paulo, Penya Unionista Figueres, US Gorée, Perth Glory, Requins de l’Atlantique, SSV Jahn Regensburg, Rio Ave, SSV Reutlingen, Rio Claro, St Andrews, Rodez AF, St. Truidense VV, Vilanovense, St.Louis University, Vitória de Guimarães, Paniliakos, Shrewsbury Town, Paramatta Power, Platense, SC Verl, Stade Briochin, SD Eibar, Stade Gabésien, TSG Sprockhövel, Stade Guémenois, Pogon Siedlce, RCS Visé, TSV Waldkirchen, Stade Malien, Tusker, Stade Reims, Prime, SC Adelaide, UD Gáldar, Stade Saint-Raphaël, UD Rotena, Real Aranjuez, Stanford University, UEA Gramenet, Stasia Calcio, Újpest, Stella Abidjan, Union Saint-Gilloise, Stockport County, Paraná Clube, Real Balompedica Linense, SF Siegen, Weltania Heerlen, University of Maryland, Pumas UNAM, University of Virginia, Ruch Chorzów, US Athlétique Adjamé, Rot-Weiss Erfurt, US Carrarese, Rushden and Diamonds, RSD Alcalá, Wycombe Wanderers, Zeleznik Beograd, USON Mondeville, SV Mattersburg, SG Blaubach-Diedelkopf, SV Ried, Sandefjord Fotball, SV Wehen, Verbroedering Geel, Pigeon Vert, Rio Branco Esporte Clube, SC Heerenveen, Rio Sport Anyama, Swindon Town, RKC Waalwijk, Szombathelyi Haladás, Victoria, Talleres, Viktoria Aschaffenburg, Tennis Borussia Berlin, Rondinella, Teramo Calcio, Shell Academy, Saipa, W Connection, Teutonia Lippstadt, Shimizu S-Pulse, Tivoli SSC, Tokyo Verdy 1969, Sutjeska Niksic, Willem II Tilburg, SV 09 Wermelskirchen, Wisla Kraków, SV Bad Bentheim, Wrexham, SV Darmstadt 98, Zaglebie Lubin, SV Gussing, Rovigo, SV Kapfenberg, Monterotondo, Brno, Viktoria Plzen, Gillingham, FK Vidar, Volyn Lutsk, Friguigbe Conakry, Vysocina Jihlava, Magdeburg, Godoy Cruz, Maccabi Netanya, Goias, Dieppe, Goldfields SC Accra, Nagoya Grampus, Granada CF, O Elvas, Wangen im Allgäu, GD Bragança, Zenit St Petersburg, Leyton Orient, Haarlem, Lucchese, Energie Cottbus, FK Svit Zlin, Grupo Sportivo de Loures, MetroStars, Spartak Moskva, Groningen, Gwarek Zabrze, MSV Duisburg, Györi ETO, ND Gorica, Halmstads BK, Fulham, Ferencvárosi TC, Oita Trinita, Fermana Calcio, Gamba Osaka, Ferrocarril Oeste, Lugano, Hapoel Nazareth Ilit, Hapoel Tel-Aviv, Bibo, HB Torshavn, FK Rad, Heart of Lions, FK Smederevo, Hearts of Oak, Maebashi Ikuei High School, Hednesford Town, Nitra, Slovacko, Meda, Eintracht Bamberg, MFK Ružomberok, FK Austria Wien, Milonarios Bogota, Hertha 03 Zehlendorf, MKS Cracovia, Inter Turku, Fluminense, HFK Prievidza, Emmen, FK Banik Sokolov, Nautico, Hiiumaa ÜJK Emmaste, Neuchâtel Xamax, HJK Helsinki, NK Zagreb, Kobenhavn, Notts County, HNK Rijeka, GAIS Göteborg, Huachipato, Oldham Athletic, Huracán Tres Arroyos, Saint-Leu, Hvidovre IF, Once Caldas, IF Brommapojkarna, GIF Sundsvall, FK BASK, Luzern, FK Bezanija, Leicester City, Independiente Medellin, Mantois 78, Independiente Santa Fe, Liberty Professionals, Instituto Córdoba, Linfield, KooTeePee, FK Pelister Bitola, Longueuil Select Rive-Sud, FK BSK Borča, Tokyo, Iraklis, FK Srem Sremska Mitrovica, Iraty SC, Maccarese, Ismaily, Midtjylland, Itagüí Ditaires, Concordia Basel, Ituano, Marconi Stallions, Timisoara, MAS Fès, Palestra de Sao Bernardo, Mérida UD, JK Tulevik Viljandi, MFK Košice, Joinville SC, Omniworld, Jonkoping Södra, Millwall, JS Kairouanaise, Mineros, JSM Bejaia, FK Željezničar, JSV Nieuwegein, Modena, Juventude, Pforzheim, FK Cukaricki, MP Mikkeli, MTK Budapest, Kaaseman, Nacional São Paulo, Kabwe Warriors, National Bucuresti, FK Dinamo Minsk, Naval 1º Maio, FK Drnovice, Fort-de-France, Kashima Antlers, Kashiwa Reysol, NK Inter Zaprešić, KF Skendija 79, FSV Frankfurt, FK Haugesund, Furman University, Kickers Offenbach, Nueva Cadiz, Kilmarnock, FV Lochgau, Korea University, Sachsen Leipzig, FK Jablonec, Utrecht, KSK Beveren, Olimpia Asunción, KTH Diest, Olympique Alès, La Terrazza, Salzburg, Ladispoli Calcio, Olympique St-Genis-Laval, Landskrona BoIS, Ovarense, Laragne-Montéglin, Palermo US, Batuque, LD Alajuelense, Jeju United, Dynamo Dresden, Bagheria, AEP Katerini, AC Imolese, Defensor, AC Lumezzane, Albirex Niigata, Académica de Coimbra, Avenir Club Avignonnais, Borussia Fulda, CS Mars 1905 Bischheim, AS Real Bamako, Derry City, Brentford, El Nacional, Académie Aldo Gentina, Everton de Vina del Mar, Brighton & Hove Albion, Clube Atlético Paranaense, AC Pistoiese, B93 Kobenhavn, BSC Young Boys, AS Douanes, Budapest Honvéd, Dacia Unirea, AS Saint-Priest, Belgrano, BVV De Kennemers, Diap Banja, CA Bella Vista, EC Santo Andre, CA Bizerte, Entente de la Save, Aces Youth Soccer Academy, AS Lyon-Duchère, CA Chacarita Juniors, Club Defensores de Cambaceres, CA Fénix, Club Sport Colombia, AD Ceuta, Ancona Calcio, AC Prato, Cordoba CF, ADAP Galo Maringa, Coventry City, Adelaide City, Criciuma EC, Arezzo AC, CS Louhans-Cuiseaux, Cádiz CF, AGF Arhus, Augsburg, De Graafschap, Baden, Democrata EC Governador Valadares, Al-Mudhaibi, Benevento Calcio, Almagro, Diables Rouges Maroua, Calcio Portogruaro, Djaaraf Dakar, Cambridge United, EC Bahia, Americano, Ecole Alexis Garcia, AS Angouleme, Elite Foot Dakar, Carlisle United, AS Lucchese, Casa Pia AC, Blackpool, Casarano Calcio, Etoile Lusitana Dakar, CD Alcoyano, Club de Fútbol América, CD Baskonia, Atlético Turén, CD Calahorra, Club Olimpia Honduras, CD Huachipato, Auda Riga, CD Las Rozas, Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, Ashanti Gold SC, Clube Regatas Guara, 105 Libreville, Coquimbo, Alsbach, Asmy Yaounde, Cotonsport Garoua, CD Sabadell, CP Ejido, CD San Predo, Banjul Hawks, Admira Wacker Mödling, Africa Sports Abidjan, CD Tuluá, CS Herediano, CD Valdepenas, CS Marítimo, Amica Wronki, Celik Zenica, Angers SCO, AC Savoia, Beerschot VAV, Central Español, Debreceni VSC, AC Sparta Praha, Bela Krajina, AC Chievo Verona, AS Gignac, Cerezo Osaka, Bellavista, CF Belenenses, Derby County, CF Reus , Derthona, Atlas Guadalajara, Benfica de Luanda, Chantrea, Ditton, Chapecoense, Dreams, AC Horsens, ADO Den Haag, EC Juventude, Chesterfield, EC Santo André, Chicago Sockers, Ajax Cape Town, Chur 97, Birmingham City, Clermont Foot, AS Livorno, Cliftonville, Enugu Rangers International, AE Larissa, ES Fréjus-Saint-Raphaël, Club Atletico Cerro, Esporte Clube Pelotas, Club Atlético Chacarita Juniors, Etoile de Guinée, Aalesunds FK, Etoile Filante Lomé, Atletico Roma, Boca Juniors de Cali, Atletico Sorocaba, Bohemians 1905, Atletico Tembetary, CD Lugo, Aarau, CD Monte-Sión Torrent, Arges Pitesti, CD Numancia, CD Palestino, 1. Köln, Baník Ostrava, CAI Comodoro Rivadavia.

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