There are numerous challenges facing academies in their quest to win competitions at all levels, chief among them being the ability to consistently produce players who are first team ready. Yet the odds of talented players making it to the first team are unpredictable and oftentimes left to chance—with many clubs choosing to “throw everything against the wall and see what sticks.”
Based on interviews with dozens of clubs across Europe, the Middle East and the United States, an overwhelming majority feel that the key to success is to systematize academy processes with a consistent approach to individualized, holistic player development that is supported by data-driven systems. This approach allows players to progress from academy to first team in a strategic and calculated way, while also increasing the rate of homegrown players.
In fact, FIFA’s recent study of the global talent development ecosystem shows that professionalization of talent development structures is the key to success for domestic leagues and international teams, and data and analysis is the key to that professionalization.
And with Chelsea’s recent Champions League victory, it’s not surprising that Chelsea were one of the first clubs to truly professionalize their academy structure and is able to boast one of the best conversion rates of academy players to the first team.
Here is a closer look at the top five challenges facing academies today: