According to a study by CIES (Centre International d'Etude du Sport) Football Observatory, a Swiss research group that focuses on compiling data on professional club football, FC Barcelona has the most players playing in the top 5 professional leagues (Spain, England, Germany, Italy and France), that came out of their youth academy, with a whopping count of 43.
Of these 43 players, 13 are still with the club (also a massive number, especially for a club of that stature), while 30 of them are earning their salaries at other clubs. In 2nd place is Manchester United with 36 players, followed by Real Madrid (34), Olympique Lyon (33), and Paris Saint-Germain (27).
Where is FC Bayern in this list, you ask? Surprisingly low, coming in tied for 17th, with 20 total players, and "only" 6 still at the club. However, that's still enough to take first place in Germany, ahead of VfB Stuttgart (17) and Schalke 04 (16).
So, how do they qualify who counts as "homegrown"? A player had to spend at least 3 years with the club, between the ages of 15 and 21.
Not a Shocker
Not surprisingly, the smallest of the big 5 leagues, Ligue 1 of France, had the highest percentage of their own players at almost 25%, since they have the least amount of money to spend, therefore have to develop from within. They also get to rely on a good chunk of talent in African players, from many of the former French colonies, who grew up, or have ties in France.
In a bit of a shock, Italy's Serie A (at below 10%) edges out England's Premier League (about 14%) in the least number of youth products playing in the league, which is surprising, considering the amount of money that is thrown around by the English clubs every transfer window. The fact that they routinely overpay for up and coming English players may help explain that.
Ajax Amsterdam, despite supplying 15 players to other leagues, struck me as a little low, considering how well regarded their academy is, and how many Dutch players routinely play in the top leagues.
Another interesting entry is TSV 1860 München, a second division German club, who is tied with Ajax in 28th place, supplying 15 players to the big boys of Europe. My guess is that the vast majority of these players are still in Germany (like the Bender twins, who play at Leverkusen and Dortmund).
Of course, this list says nothing about the actual quality of players (whether they are stars, serviceable starters, or guys that have their butts stapled to the bench), but that would be very hard to quantify.
What are your thoughts on this study?