450 Millions Euros
According to Americo Faria, director of grassroots football at the football association of Brazil, a country that amasses titles at both youth and seniot level, it is well known even outside Spain that young Spanish players lack opportunities. “When a young player in Spain graduates to the first team, he has to compete with foreign players of international calibre. That doesn’t happen in Brazil because the teams don’t invest a lot of money in attracting foreigners. That gives young players more opportunities,” he says.
Real Madrid and Barcelona spend a lot of money on their academies, but then they fail to use players that have been world or continental champions at youth level. Only three first-team players at Real Madrid are products of the club academy: Raul Gonzalez, who made his debut in 1994, Guti, who came through the ranks in 1995 and goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has been a member of the first team since 1999.
Given the demand for instant results at a club that is expected to win every competition it plays in, it has been eight years since a player from Real Madrid’s academy established himself in the first team.
It is a similar story at Barcelona, where four academy graduates feature regularly in the first team: Victor Valdes (since 2002), Carles Puyol (1999), Xavi Hernandez (1998) and Andres Iniesta (2002), and have now been joined by the highly promising Bojan Krkic, who was a FIFA U-17 World Cup finalist with Spain this year.
Despite the excellent form shown by Spanish youth players, this season Spanish clubs have spent more than EUR 450 million on transfers, with Real Madrid alone making an outlay of more than EUR 100 million.