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Top 5 Most Profitable Football Academies in the World

Top 5 Most Profitable Football Academies in the World: For all football fans, witnessing a homegrown talent emerge from the academy to dominate the field for their beloved club is a source of immense joy. The pride that comes with seeing ‘one of your own’ achieve success is unparalleled. While many football academies prioritize nurturing their young talents for the first team, others seize the opportunity to capitalize on their investments by selling them to elite clubs globally.

The CIES Football Observatory has tracked and compiled data on the world’s top five most profitable football academies over the past decade, based on player transfers between the ages of 15 and 21. Let’s delve into the rankings and explore the stories behind these successful Football academies.

List of Top 5 Most Profitable Football Academies in the World

RankFootball AcademyRevenue (€/£)Notable Transfers
1Benfica (Benfica Campus)€516m/£444mJoao Felix (£113m), Ruben Dias (£61m), Goncalo Ramos (£68m)
2Ajax (Ajax Youth Academy)€376m/£323mFrenkie de Jong (£65m), Matthijs de Ligt (£65m)
3Lyon (Olympique Lyonnais Reserves & Academy)€370m/£318mAlexandre Lacazette (£46.5m), Bradley Barcola (£39m)
4Real Madrid (La Fabrica)€364m/£313mAchraf Hakimi (£37m), Sergio Reguilon (£28.5m)
5Chelsea (Chelsea FC Development Squad & Academy)€347m/£299mMason Mount (£55m), Tammy Abraham (£34m)

5. Chelsea (Chelsea FC Development Squad & Academy) – €347m/£299m

Securing the fifth position is Chelsea‘s academy, Chelsea FC Development Squad & Academy, boasting an impressive €347 million in revenue. A strategic shift in recent years has seen Chelsea leverage their academy talents, with Mason Mount’s £55 million transfer to Manchester United in 2023 marking their most lucrative sale. The club’s remarkable financial transformation, from £35 million in revenue between 2014 and 2018 to a staggering £264 million from 2019 to 2023, underscores their commitment to turning academy assets into first-team reinforcements.

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4. Real Madrid (La Fabrica) – €364m/£313m

Real Madrid’s renowned academy, La Fabrica, secures the fourth spot with €364 million in revenue. Despite their elite status, Real Madrid has consistently produced marketable talents, evident in Achraf Hakimi’s £37 million transfer to Inter in 2020 and Sergio Reguilon’s £28.5 million move to Tottenham. The ability to groom and sell players at significant fees further solidifies Real Madrid’s status as a footballing powerhouse.

3. Lyon (Olympique Lyonnais Reserves & Academy) – €370m/£318m

Surprisingly claiming the third position is Lyon’s academy, Olympique Lyonnais Reserves & Academy, with an impressive €370 million in revenue. Despite modest European success, Lyon’s academy has been a financial powerhouse, highlighted by Alexandre Lacazette’s £46.5 million move to Arsenal and recent transfers like Bradley Barcola to PSG and Castello Lukeba to RB Leipzig contributing to their remarkable financial success.

2. Ajax (Ajax Youth Academy) – €376m/£323m

With a rich footballing identity and a commitment to youth development, Ajax’s academy secures the second spot with €376 million in revenue. The Dutch giants, known for producing wonderful young footballers, have witnessed key transfers, including Frenkie de Jong’s £65 million move to Barcelona in 2019. Ajax’s commitment to nurturing young players is further highlighted by having sold the most academy graduates on the list, with 36 players making significant moves.

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1. Benfica (Benfica Campus) – €516m/£444m

Leading the way by a considerable margin is Benfica’s academy, Benfica Campus, boasting an extraordinary €516 million in revenue. Positioned in the Seixal area of Lisbon, Benfica’s academy has consistently produced top talent, with Joao Felix’s £113 million move to Atletico Madrid in 2019 setting a record. Ruben Dias, Goncalo Ramos, and several lesser-known players have contributed significantly, solidifying Benfica’s status as the most financially successful football academy in the past decade.

Academies have become not just a source of pride for clubs and fans but also substantial revenue generators. The top five football academies highlighted here – Benfica, Ajax, Lyon, Real Madrid, and Chelsea – stand as pillars of success, showcasing their ability to produce world-class talent and capitalize on it financially. As the footballing world evolves, these academies serve as blueprints for sustained success, both on the pitch and in the balance sheets.


  1. Where is Benfica’s academy located?

    Benfica’s academy is located in the Seixal area of Lisbon.

  2. Who is the most expensive player sold from Benfica’s academy?

    Joao Felix holds the record, moving to Atletico Madrid for £113 million in 2019.

  3. Where is Ajax’s youth academy based?

    Ajax’s youth academy is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

  4. Who holds the record for the highest transfer fee received by Ajax for an academy graduate?

    Frenkie de Jong, who moved to Barcelona for £65 million in 2019.

  5. How many academy graduates have Ajax sold in the last decade?

    Ajax has sold 36 academy graduates in the past decade.

  6. What is Lyon’s recent European football performance?

    Lyon has not made significant strides in European football, with a notable Champions League semi-final appearance in 2020.

  7. Who holds the record for the highest transfer fee received by Lyon for an academy product?

    Alexander Lacazette, with a £46.5 million transfer to Arsenal.

  8. How much did Lyon receive for Alexander Lacazette’s transfer to Arsenal?

    Lyon received £46.5 million for Alexander Lacazette’s transfer to Arsenal.


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