English football is arguably at the highest level it has ever been.
From the national team’s success at recent tournaments to the ridiculously competitive Premier League, one of the constants connecting all things positive is the influx of talented individuals over the past few years.
The Three Lions boasted the second-youngest squad at Euro 2020 and with young stars as mature as Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham, it’s no surprise that Gareth Southgate is already gifting them opportunities at the highest level.
But the praise ultimately has to be directed towards the academies at club level, who lately seem to be churning out one ‘generational player’ after another.
Daily Star Sport takes a look at the Premier League clubs with the best academies based on recent stars.
5 – Liverpool
Liverpool go somewhat under the radar when it comes to the stars they have produced.
The jewel in their academy crown is undoubtedly Trent Alexander-Arnold, 23, who spent his childhood with the club from 2004 to 2016, before cementing his place as first-choice right-back.
He is now undoubtedly one of the greatest in the world in his position, revolutionising the role and becoming the Reds’ primary playmaker.
Meanwhile, 20-year-old Curtis Jones has been a revelation in midfield for Liverpool since becoming a first-team regular last season, having made 53 club appearances despite playing in one of the country’s greatest sides.
Full-back Neco Williams is another academy graduate who has potential but faces the challenge of having Alexander-Arnold play in the same position.
4 – Manchester United
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Any group of youngsters coming through the ranks at Manchester United will unfortunately have the achievements of the famous Class of ’92 hanging over their heads.
But that has not stopped several stars from emerging and taking the Premier League by storm.
Among those is Marcus Rashford whose breakthrough in 2016 remains one of the most memorable in recent memory, while the likes of Scott McTominay and Dean Henderson have also become Premier League stars.
The most impressive, though, is 20-year-old Mason Greenwood whose natural ability instinct in front of goal makes him one of Europe’s most fearsome young attackers.
Several current academy players such as Anthony Elanga, James Garner and defender Teden Mengi will now be hoping to follow in the footsteps of those before them by becoming the Theatre of Dreams’ next big prospect.
Arsenal – 3
Arsenal’s academy had somewhat of a barren period after Hector Bellerin’s ascension to the first team in 2013 but now seemingly cannot stop producing outstanding young players.
Bukayo Saka, 20, and Emile Smith Rowe, 21, are the two currently responsible for carrying Mikel Arteta’s side on a weekly basis, having both broken into the first-team over the past three years after joining the Gunners as children.
It is a testament to the club and its staff that the former is now a regular England international with three goals to his name while Smith Rowe continues to amaze with his directness and technical prowess.
Other recent graduates are Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson, though current academy star 18-year-old Charlie Patino is tipped to become the best of the lot.
Manchester City – 2
Do you think Foden is England's brightest young player? Let us know in the comments section.
Any academy that produces Foden automatically earns a place in our top two spots.
The 21-year-old, or the ‘Stockport Iniesta’, as he is known, was tipped for great things before he even stepped foot into Pep Guardiola’s first-team squad.
Guardiola once claimed the midfielder is the “most talented player” he has ever seen (after Lionel Messi), but his footballing intelligence and technical mastery have continued to develop exponentially since his teen years.
Foden is already a key player for both club and country but certainly will not be the last from Manchester City’s academy to leave a mark in the Premier League, with highly-rated teenagers Liam Delap and Cole Palmer already making first-team appearances.
Former Borussia Dortmund ace Jadon Sancho, despite already being 15 when he joined the club from Watford, cannot be forgotten either as a former City academy star.
Chelsea – 1
Cobham is one of the world’s most exciting hubs for young footballing talent.
The current Chelsea squad is littered with young stars who made their bones in the highly-competitive academy, including England midfielder Mason Mount, Reece James, Trevor Chalobah and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Even more fascinating is the number of incredible youngsters Chelsea seem to lose to other clubs and still not bat an eyelid.
Childhood teammates Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori are among those who have left for greener pastures in Italy and have quickly become stand-out performers in Serie A.
Only a never-ending production line like Chelsea’s can get away with selling a prospect like 21-year-old Marc Guehi this summer and be confident that another will come along in his stead soon enough.
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