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One-hit wonders

Benchmarking the productivity of our academy can be tough. Only a small number of players might break through to our first team, and it’s not always easy keeping track of departed players. What’s more, we often only immediately recall a handful of players produced – but do they actually represent the wider productivity of the academy?

One way we can look at the sustainability of our academy production is to separate out the superstars from the rest. We can’t always predict who and when outliers will occur, but good processes should develop a steady stream of good talent.

Take Atalanta. Our current market value of all the players they’ve produced is €135m. Their two most valuable produced players (Gagliardini and Baselli) are worth a combined €26m, or just 20% of their total produced value. In other words, the vast majority (80%) of their academy value has been produced by a long tail of good players.

Nancy’s academy meanwhile has produced players of similar total value – €119m. However, nearly three-quarters of that value is attributable to just one player: Clément Lenglet. Though its academy has produced a total value of players similar to Atalanta’s, clearly its output is less sustainable in the long run. If the vast majority of your academy talent is valued under €5m, it suggests that the €70m+ player is an exception to the rule, and not reflective of wider processes.

Equally, if you think of Monaco’s academy, you immediately think of Kylian Mbappé, and perhaps draw some conclusions about the strength of its production line. But while Valencia haven’t produced anyone who is currently of comparable value to the Frenchman, their academy as a whole has produced players of higher value than Monaco’s, and can be proud of a long list of successful, valuable players.

At our own club, it is easy to get into conversations about the one or two standout players from our academy, and assess success accordingly. After all, who wouldn’t want to have produced Kylian Mbappé? However, such an approach can mislead us about the underlying strength of our production line. To take a music analogy: would you rather be Pink Floyd – with a steady stream of hits – or one-hit wonders Dexys Midnight Runners?

To get an assessment of the sustainability of your academy productivity, get in touch with us

About Omar Chaudhuri

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