Google+ Blueprint for Football: The Efficiency of Youth Systems

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Efficiency of Youth Systems

Every year, clubs release tens of youth players in whom they've invested years of coaching.  Some go years without seeing one of the players developed by their system make it to the first team despite the money the pour into their academy.

All this might seem a pretty inefficient use of resources, but it isn't.  That is what Simon Kuper, co-author of the brilliant book Soccernomics, thinks.

"It is not lot of money [that clubs invest].  I've seen the data and it is at most around £5 million per season.  It all depends on your level.  If you're Chelsea or Manchester City it is very hard for a guy aged 18 to perform better than established international players.  It is very, very hard.  If you're Stoke or Sunderland then it is easier. It depends on the club."

Kuper also has pretty clear ideas regarding the best age for clubs to sign players with the twenty to twenty-two age group being the one identified.

"That's what we say in the book.  You get people like Freddy Adu who were built up as having the potential to be a huge star but never really delivered.  It is very hard with a 17 year old to know whether they will be good.  With 20 to 22 year olds that isn't the case.  You can get them when they're still not yet a very expensive but you're buying him when it is clear that he can be a very good player.  That is, for instance, what Ajax did with Luis Suarez."

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