Club's football academies and their youth systems have long been a fascination of mine. One cannot help but be in awe of teams that can produce footballers through their own system and couple it with being a successful team. Barcelona is obviously the modern day example of this with their La Masia system which has outproduced any other football club in the world with great talent for the last decade.
I myself am an Ipswich Town supporter and have also been delighted to see some great talent come through our youth system over the last few years, with the likes of Kieron Dyer, Richard Wright, Jordan Rhodes and Connor Wickham to name but a few.
Obviously this is not on the same scale as much bigger and better teams but the point is that as a fan it gives you an incredible feel good factor about your team. It is such a refreshing thing to see. The fans love it as they feel a true sense of pride towards the team and indeed the region and, of course, it is also admired by other teams, critics and fans from all around the world.
At a football club like Atalanta this is no different and over the past 20 years this football team has in many ways outproduced a lot of their fellow Italian rivals when it came to bringing through youngsters and molding together an incredibly successful system at grassroots level.
|Montolivo: Currently captain of Milan and Italian international|
|Pazzini: Scored the 1st goal + 1st hat-trick at the new Wembley stadium.|
Time now for a certain comparison with a football club that lies on the south coast of England, namely Southampton F.C. The Saints have without a doubt had the most productive and successful academy in England in recent times. With Bale having been priced as the most expensive player in the world this summer epitomising this. Joining Bale are the likes of Wayne Bridge, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and now in the current team left back Luke Shaw and midfielder James Ward-Prowse (with high hopes expected of the pair of them).
|Bale being unveiled as the latest Madrid 'Galactico'|
Southampton, like Atalanta, are not a big big club. Excuse me Saints fans but please don't take offense. However, they too play in the top flight of their respected countries and have done so for many years, before they were relegated in 2005 they had played 27 successive seasons in the Premier League. Atalanta similarly play in Italy's top flight, but other recent years have found little stability moving between the top two tiers of Italian football regularly in the last 10 seasons.
Hopefully now with betting scandals and off field distractions put to one side the Nerazzuri can concentrate upon cementing its place in Serie A this season and look to push on in the future with the help of its excellent youth programme and some exciting talents coming through the ranks.