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Barcelona breed Europe's best players

Catalan side have produced more top class footballers than any other team.

Messi (left) and Xavi are both products of the Barcelona youth system.
Messi (left) and Xavi are both products of the Barcelona youth system.
Image: MANU FERNANDEZ/AP/Press Association Images

WE ALREADY KNEW that Barcelona were regarded by most commentators as the best club side in the world, but a new survey by Sporting Intelligenge has found the club has produced more footballers currently earning a living as first-team players in Europe’s top leagues than any club in the world.

The Catalan outfit have been responsible for the development of 38 players at top-flight clubs across Europe’s so-called ‘Big 5′ divisions, namely the Bundesliga (Germany), La Liga (Spain), Ligue 1 (France), the Premier League (England) and Italy’s Serie A.

For a player to qualify, he must have spent three or more years within the development programme of the club between the ages of 15 and 21.

Just 14 of the 38 remain with Barca and include the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta while the likes of Pepe Reina and Mikel Arteta ply their trade in other leagues.

Manchester United are the leading producer of players in the Premier League with 24 players across the Big 5 divisions, including 9 still at the club.

The other leading clubs for producing players across Europe include Lyon (31), Real Madrid (29) and Rennes (24).

According to the survey, no Irish club has produced more than one player currently playing first-team football in one of the Big 5 leagues.

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