The focus on the professional training of ‘home-grown’ youth, trained from an early age, is an increasingly present feature in the clubs’ sporting strategies. But who has, after all, the most lucrative academies? According to Finance Football research, the king of sales lives in Catalonia: Barcelona is the spanish team that made more money by selling players from the academy, taking a considerable advantage over arch-rival Real Madrid.

Finance Football calculations are based on data from the Transfermarket website, which aggregates all transfers from European football. To reach this table, Finance Football added up all the revenue obtained by the Spanish clubs with sales of player passes formed in the house. The result is the first ranking of the most profitable academies in Spain.

In this ranking, Barcelona follows first. The club of Lionel Messi has already pocketed about 145 million euros with the sale of its pupils. This figure, it should be noted, includes only the proceeds from player sales, which is a limited measure of the academy’s potential. The players formed in Barça who make their own career in the club, for example, never contribute to this ranking, since they are not transferred at all.

Barça had their first lucrative transfer in 1996/97. Jordi Cruyff, son of the legendary Johan Cruyff, came out for 2.5 million euros. Although it seems modest value, the truth is that the transfer was, by the standards of the time, a remarkable sale. Taking inflation into account, the EUR2.5 million in 1996/97 would now amount to something like EUR 5 million.

Since then, the number of transfers have been increased and “La Masia” has sent countless players to the spotlight: names like Cesc Fabregas, Mikel Arteta, Thiago Alcantara and Marc Bartra were some of the sales. Pedro Rodriguez joined Chelsea in 2015/16, becoming the most expensive sale of the academy (just under 30 million euros).

Real Madrid very far behind in Academies ranking

With few young people trained at the club, the second most profited was Atletico Madrid. Synonymous of a smaller academy, but still with good quality, Atleti managed to pocket 122 million euros. The fact that Atletico’s academy is also more recent – similar to Valencia, Real Madrid and Sevilla, the profits only began to arrive about 10 years ago – also helps to explain the distance to the first classified.

Sevilla and Valencia are not far behind and almost reach 110 million euros in sales. Here you will find players like David Silva and Albiol (Valencia), Reyes, Sergio Ramos and Jesus Navas. (Seville).

Finally comes the giant Real Madrid. The whites are not used to bet a lot on their youth and have not had pupils of great quality, as would be expected. However, they reach 102 million euros with sales. The bet on the academy has changed in recent years. After Jesé was one of the main players in the squad last season, PSG hired him for 25 million euros. This season 6 players from Madrid are trained by Zidane and are valued at 107 million euros.

This article is the result of extensive research work done by Finance Football. All microdata used is in this article is available (in Excel spreadsheet format) upon request. We are happy to share our results with media outlets and/or professional researchers.