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FOOTBALL: Are The Academies Still Relevant?


Ridwan Adeola Yusuf

Gone are the days when the big sides relied heavily on their academy products for good performance of the team. The days when La Masia-educated Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez led Barcelona to all the trophies their heart desire in a calendar year. The time in question was when Real Madrid FC did not need to involve in ludicrous deal like the David De Gea saga borne out of desperation.

Then, the clubs had their young products who would later become the club’s reference point. Gone are those periods when a United team of Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs who were all once under tutor at the B team and can be confidently touted as title-contenders. Post-Guardiola era, take away the regulars-Busquet, Iniesta and Leo, the first-eleven team of this present Barca team were all bought.

Infact, the forward combination of Neymar-Suarez is one of the most expensive in history! Is this suggesting that Roberto is not bound for the top and the reason why they went for an Arda? Why Barcelona are still pursuing Pogba Going to Manchester United?

It is evident that academy products such as Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (who has spent 12 years with the academy), Varela, Pereira, Wilson, Mc Nair, Ligar and others offer little improvement to the side. This verdict may look harsh, but almost, if not all of the current United academy youngsters offer little improvement in terms of quality to the side.

Maybe, the world’s biggest club is too big for them. Perhaps, they would perform excellently in a side like West-Ham. For instance, at Madrid, highly-rated Martin Odegaard is in his second season with the Castilla and there is absolutely no chance for the Norwegian ‘wonderkid’ is going to become an integral part of the Madrid first-team squad soon. If they really believe in him, with his tutelage under Zidane last season, Los Blancos shouldn’t have gone for Kovacic, Cheryshev or Vazquez.

With the present sitautaion, it is clear that the top teams in the football today, are not ready to take the risks anymore. Instant success is what everybody now craves, but ironically, this does not really matter in the case of most academy-product team. Still, the blame should ultimately be put on the clubs for not putting enormous faith on academy products due to constant pressure from fans who are after immediate results. That is why when these clubs were substantially solvent, they do not hesitate to spend.

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