Southampton and Leeds United named best academies in English football for producing high earning players

Joe Hall
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Fabian Delph James Milner Leeds Academy Aston Villa
James Milner and Fabian Delph, who played together at Aston Villa, are both graduates of the Leeds United academy (Source: Getty)

Southampton and Leeds United are the best breeding grounds in England for footballers on a super salary in excess of €100,000 (£85,000) per week.

The two clubs are the only English academies to be able to boast of more than one player currently among the game's 112 highest earners, according to a new study from Norwegian financial consultants Axo Finans.

Southampton produced Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, now at Arsenal and Real Madrid respectively, while Leeds United graduates Fabian Delph and James Milner enjoy bumper pay cheques at Manchester City and Liverpool.

While 43 per cent of all players with a stated salary over €100,000 per week now play in the Premier League, English academies themselves trained just 15 of those players — 13 per cent.

Read more: Glenn Hoddle on why independent academies can nurture kids better than clubs

Walcott and Bale both started their careers at Southampton (Source: Getty)

Barcelona and Brazil best for big bucks

Axo Finans' study found that Barcelona's famed La Masia academy deserves its reputation as a factory of footballing superstars with six graduates (Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and Pedro) currently among football's highest earners, more than double any other club in the world.

The next best academies for high earners are Brazil's FC Sao Paulo, Bayern Munich and Valencia with three players apiece.

Read more: Southampton named Premier League's best-run club

Brazilian academies have produced 19 of the world's best-paid players, more than any other nation, but none still play in their home country.

Cash-rich China

After the Premier League, Spain's La Liga and the Chinese Super League account for the most players earning over €100,000 per week with 17 each — 15 per cent.

All of those have arrived in China in just the last two years, with 13 having arrived in 2016 alone.

Click here to explore all the data.

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