Who is each Premier League teams best academy graduate of the past decade?

With well over half of Premier Leagues players being foreign and the England National team going through the worst period in decades and having the worst crop of players in my lifetime, we have to look at the Premier League teams and what they are producing. Why are teams not looking towards their academies more? TV Money, cheap to import foreigners or wanting short term results rather than long term? We look through all 20 Premier League teams and see who is the best player they have produced in the past 10 years.

Arsenal: Jack Wilshere

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To be fair to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger they have always given the youngsters a chance to the annoyance of a lot of Arsenal fans. Jack Wilshere is the cream of the crop of the past decade though. When he first burst onto the scene every English fan was excited to see what he would be like in his mid-twenties if he was this good when he was 17/18. Unfortunately for us, the answer is that he is pretty much just as good. Not improving at a rate that anyone expected and plagued by injuries so far in his career Wilshere is now supposed to be in his prime and captaining Arsenal to silverware, instead he was shipped out on loan to Bournemouth last season. On his day I would still say Wilshere is Englands best midfielder but it is obvious that he hasn’t become the player we all expected him to be.

 

Bournemouth: Danny Ings

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As much as we like to say about plucky little Bournemouths rise to the Premier League they do not look towards their academy graduates. In 2015 they came under fire in a BBC Sport article claiming that they haven’t used any club-trained players. Danny Ings and Sam Vokes were the only remotely successful players I could find that graduated from their academy and Ings got the nod over Vokes. Signing for Liverpool on a free transfer and then picking up a terrible injury that would put him out of action for over a year. Hopefully it won’t affect his game too much but as he is a player that heavily relies on pace it could be a huge issue going forward for Ings.

Brighton and Hove Albion: Lewis Dunk

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In January I wrote a piece for another site about which Championship players are ready for a move to the Premier League and Lewis Dunk was my number 1. At the time I wrote “. A centre back who is as good on the floor as he is in the air. He can play out from the back to set up attacks as well as reading the game better than any defender I have seen in the league this season Dunk would fit into almost any top division squad.” And I stand by that if Brighton are to stay up next season Dunk will be key for them and don’t be surprised if they go down for one of the bigger clubs to pick him up on the cheap. He is a class player and the best that Brighton have produced in the past 10 years.

Burnley: Jay Rodriguez

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Another player on this list who has suffered horribly for injuries, Jay Rodriguez at one point looked like he would be an England regular after scoring 15 Premier League goals in 2012-13 for Southampton. An ACL injury ruled him out for 11 months though and last year he has finally been back to playing regularly playing 24 games for Southampton last season. Rodriguez showed his ability at Burnley getting in the Championship team of the year and winning Burnley player of the season during his time there. Hopefully Jay can refind his previous form and break into the England team again.

Chelsea: Ryan Bertrand

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The only person from Chelseas academy the past decade to have any real success is Ryan Bertrand. With the amount of money that Abramovic has spent it is no surprise. Tammy Abraham could one day be on this list but I would be surprised if he ever gets serious game time at Stamford Bridge. It says a lot about Chelsea that the best striker they have produced in the past 20 years is Carlton Cole. Take nothing away from Bertrand though he is, in my opinion, one of if not the best left back in the Premier League he really came into his own whilst on loan at Southampton and seeing as Chelsea shipped him out on loan a staggering nine times it is hard to credit Chelsea with helping him become the player he is today.

Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha

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Wilfried Zaha had a lot of hype around him in 2012-13 as a 20 year old Zaha showcased a fearlessness similar to what you see from Marcus Rashford today, he would run at players and perform unreal skills to beat them. Alex Ferguson was so impressed that Zaha became the last ever player that he signed as a manager paying £15 million for him in January 2013 only to be immediately loaned back to Palace. During his time at United he made only four appearances before being loaned to Cardiff and eventually being sold back to Palace. He is still a brilliant player as shown by his performances last season, the game against Chelsea, in particular, being a brilliant one for him. What would Zaha be like now if he was allowed to continue to develop at Palace and not join United. Many fans feel like the move up north stunted his development and I would have to agree. It is a shame that Zaha has opted to play for Ivory Coast instead of England because we could always use a player like him in the side.

Everton: Ross Barkley

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In the build up to the 2014 World Cup, I was begging for Barkley to get the call-up to the England squad as I knew he had what it took to come onto the international scene and break out as the superstar he could have been. Similarly to Gascoigne 24 years before I expected it to be his tournament in Brazil. However, he didn’t get the game time he deserved as he didn’t play the important games in that tournament. Fast forward two years and Ross Barkley was one of only two outfield players to not play a minute at Euro 2016 for England. So where did it all go wrong for Barkley? Has the confidence and flair he once showed been coached out of him? A lot of people seem to think so. Last season he seemed so lazy at times and didn’t show hardly any of the potential he once showed. Former boss Roberto Martinez described him as a mix between Paul Gascoigne and Michael Ballack. That is the potential that he has and if he books his ideas up he will become that player.

Huddersfield: Alex Smithies

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The current QPR stopper is becoming really annoying to me and many other Fulham fans. Saving three penalties against Fulham last season and costing them 5 valuable points Smithies has become a great Championship goalkeeper. It is not that much of a surprise that Huddersfield haven’t produced any superstars within the past decade with them being one of the smallest teams in Yorkshire youngsters in that area have so many bigger teams to choose to play for.

Leicester City: Andy King

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The only man to have ever won League one, The Championship and the Premier League all with the same club Andy King is a Leicester legend without a doubt. Not being a key player during Leicester’s title winning season King still popped up with the odd moment where he got the team out of trouble putting the side 2-1 up against West Brom at the business end of that season being his highlight. I would expect Leicester to produce a top class talent within the next decade as the title win is fresh in youngsters minds.

Liverpool: Raheem Sterling:

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Contrary to what a lot of football fans will tell you Raheem Sterling is a brilliant player. Look at his performances in the Champions League against Monaco or any of his early performances this season Sterling does have a lot of talent. During his time at Liverpool he showed this talent as well, during the 13/14 season where Liverpool were within touching distance of the title Sterling shone and got himself a £50 million move to Man City, even though he may not be worth that amount and still has a long way to go to justify that price tag he is still a brilliant player that would walk into any Premier League side.

Manchester City: Daniel Sturridge

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Until the end of this season, I was of the opinion that when Daniel Sturridge was fit he was England’s best striker. It took me a while to pick someone for City as they haven’t had many talents come through recently with all the money they are spending and I must admit it took me a while to remember they had Sturridge. With him falling out of favour with Klopp Sturridge should really look for a new club as he would hit 20+ goals a season anywhere. One of the best finishers in the league one of his only downfalls is that he is a bit selfish on the ball at times. Other than that he is an immense talent who should be starting week in week out whenever he is fit. For a striker of his quality to have only had 25 England caps by the age of 27 is a disgrace whenever he is fit he should be one of the first names on the teamsheet. Unfortunately for Daniel, I have had to write the phrase “When he is fit” 3 times in this paragraph so far. Injuries have hampered his development unfortunately and that is such a shame for Liverpool and England fans alike.

Manchester United: Paul Pogba

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The fact that they let him go on a free and bought him back for £89 million shows you how much of a talent he is. I have said a lot of things about Pogba before and I will be the first one to say he isn’t worth the money they have paid. But he is the best that Man United have produced in the past decade. His performance against England the other day showed how much talent this young man has he just needs to show it on a more regular basis in the Premier League. It’s hard to credit Man United with the development of Paul Pogba as he would be the first one to admit that they didn’t give him the opportunity he deserved and he has made them pay for it. A world record £89 million to be exact.

Newcastle United: Andy Carroll

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It’s strange how many of these players have gone on to be affected heavily by injury. Andy Carroll is without a doubt one of the best headers of the ball in world football. Carroll unfortunately for him made a wrong career move in going to Liverpool at the time he did, in a system that didn’t accommodate a target man

Southampton: Gareth Bale

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In the past decade, there is no argument as to which Premier League team has produced the best talents. Theo Walcott misses out by a year but since then Southampton have seen; Gareth Bale, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and James Ward-Prowse all come through their academy. It’s no wonder that the big clubs come calling at St Mary’s every transfer window as all of these players are immense talents but there is one who stands out above the rest. It’s crazy to think of Gareth Bale ever being a left back knowing what we know now but during his early career at Southampton and Spurs that is where he played. Now being undoubtedly one of the best players in the World Gareth Bale was the world record transfer fee when he joined Real Madrid and is the best player to come from a Premier League teams academy in the past 10 years.

Stoke City: Ryan Shotton

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It says a lot about Stokes Academy when they have been in the Premier League for almost 10 years and the best player they have produced in that time is Ryan Shotton. During a time where Stoke were famed for Rory Delap’s long throws, Ryan Shotton seemed like Delap’s successor as he also possessed the ability to launch the ball a long distance from a throw in. With Mark Hughes coming in though and bringing about a new style of play for Stoke City Shotton was moved on to Birmingham.

Swansea City: Joe Allen

 

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During Swansea’s first couple of seasons in the Premier League under Brendan Rogers, they brought a nice brand of football with Joe Allen and Leon Britton in the middle getting compared to footballing legends Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Unfortunately Allen couldn’t replicate this success at Liverpool not getting very much game time and not playing his best football. This season at Stoke, however, he has been back to top form scoring six in the league and showing everyone why he has the nickname ” Welsh Pirlo”

Tottenham Hotspur: Harry Kane

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Back to Back golden boot wins and the England captaincy. Harry Kane has had a brilliant couple of years and we hope it continues for a long time. A clinical finisher from both inside and outside of the box Kane had ridiculous goalscoring stats this season scoring 29 in 30 in the league. Averaging almost a goal a game. Harry Kane could go on to be Englands best ever striker if he continues this form and is currently 5/1 to break Alan Shearers record of 260 Premier League goals. At just 23 years old Kane has got a long career still ahead of him so he could close in on that record one day. He is bound to become a Tottenham legend if he stays in North London and leads them to some silverware.

Watford: Britt Assombalonga

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Due to the Pozzos buying a lot of talent in recent years Watfords academy hasn’t seen many talented graduates. One that the Pozzos will regret letting go for years to come is Britt Assombalonga now one of the best players in the championship and described by Kenny Burns as a “potential 50 million pound player.” Assombalonga is a great combination of strength and pace. Recovering from a knee injury last season to score 14 goals in the league Assombalonga could definitely do a job for many Premier League sides.

West Brom: Saido Berahino

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Finally leaving West Brom in January after what seemed like years of him threatening to leave the club. Berahino has made a career from false promises in the potential that he showed in the 2014-15 season netting 14 goals in 38 games at the age of 21. Transfer fees of £25 million were being thrown around by the Baggies as a plethora of top teams chased him. Newcastle bid £21 million at one point. Unfortunately for Saido this all went to his head he got frozen out of the starting XI after a falling out with Tony Pulis. He eventually left for £12 million to Stoke City and has scored four league goals in the past three years. He is still only 23 years old so time is on his side for him to put it right but he needs to start improving quickly.

West Ham United: James Tomkins

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When you compare this past 10 years to the 10 years before that for West Hams academy you have to wonder what has happened? Throughout the late 90s and early 2000s West Ham had Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, Jermain Defoe, Michael Carrick, Glen Johnson and Joe Cole all graduate from their academies. All went on to be legends in their own rights winning numerous trophies and picking up hundreds of England caps between them. Since then though the best player that has graduated from the West Ham academy is James Tomkins. Tomkins isn’t a bad player by any means but he isn’t on the level of what West Ham were prodcing in the late 90s.

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Author: Charles Jones

Sports Journalism student at Leeds Trinity University.

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