We bring you the most valuable player (right now – with valuations taken from Transfermarkt as a guide) to have stepped through each Premier League club’s Academy doors. So we’re talking Saka and we’re talking Rashford, but also some that, well, who knew they were there?
ARSENAL: Bukayo Saka
Three years ago, the man in the chair was Serge Gnabry, who was very much The One That Got Away. Now it’s all about Bukayo Saka, who is at the centre of this Gunners resurgence under Mikel Arteta. What a player. Sh*t nickname though. Will they still be calling him Starboy when he hits 30?
ASTON VILLA: Jack Grealish
Villa cashed in eventually on Grealish when Manchester City hit his release clause. That still looks like a tremendous deal for Villa as Grealish takes rather too long to look like a natural fit for City. Next in line but a long, long way behind? Jacob Ramsey.
BOURNEMOUTH: Danny Ings
After just season in the Cherries’ first team – back when they were in League One – Ings was sold to Burnley for £1m to link up with Eddie Howe during his ill-fated spell away from Dorset. Eight years later Ings returned to the south coast to join Southampton for £20m. Since then he has been at Aston Villa and now West Ham. And still remains the Cherries’ most valuable graduate almost 12 years after he left.
BRENTFORD: Tyrick Mitchell
This section may remain frozen in time as Brentford no longer have an academy. But future England international left-back and local boy Mitchell was on their books for four years before the doors were closed and he went to seek his fortune with Crystal Palace.
BRIGHTON: Ben White
A £50m sale to Arsenal who could well be a Premier League title winner in three months’ time, White has been converted from centre-back to right-back by Arteta. To their credit, Brighton have Robert Sanchez, Lewis Dunk, Solly March and Evan Ferguson still in their ranks…quite the achievement from a club that also buys very, very well.
CHELSEA: Declan Rice
The one that got away. Rejected by Chelsea as a 14-year-old, the defensive midfielder is a target once again this summer, with Arsenal and Manchester United also now interested. Anyway, Chelsea have produced 20 players currently worth £10m or more (and that is a very conservative estimate) with Rice being joined at the top of that scale by current first-teamers Mason Mount and Reece James.
CRYSTAL PALACE: Wilfried Zaha
Edging out Mitchell and Aaron Wan-Bissaka is the winger who left Palace for Manchester United but then returned with his tail between his legs having failed to make the transition after Sir Alex Ferguson was replaced by David Moyes. Even at 30 with just a few months remaining on his contract, he is Palace’s most valuable product.
EVERTON: Anthony Gordon
Three years ago this was Ross Barkley (Nice, to save you a Google) and now it’s Gordon, sold in January to Newcastle for a barely believable initial £40m. They won’t get the same money for Tom Davies.
FULHAM: Harvey Elliott
The top seven most valuable Fulham Academy graduates are no longer at Fulham, but at the head of the list is the Liverpool midfielder who left the Cottagers for what was a tribunal-decided £1.5m. He would cost any suitors rather a lot more now. In other news, Fulham were among several clubs who passed on a young Eberechi Eze.
LEEDS UNITED: Kalvin Phillips
The heart of Leeds United who moved to Manchester City last summer for £42m but has entirely failed to establish himself in Pep Guardiola’s first-team plans. Leeds have massively missed him; it must hurt to see him permanently sat on City’s bench, with Guardiola reluctant to trust him as a viable alternative to Rodri.
LIVERPOOL: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Taking the crown from Raheem Sterling is the right-back that’s not really a right-back. When Liverpool are good, Trent is very, very good; when Liverpool are bad, he looks like an accident waiting to happen.
MANCHESTER CITY: Phil Foden
Absolutely one of their own. And while Jadon Sancho “didn’t want to take the challenge” (Pep’s own words), Foden absolutely did, staying around through the leaner times to win all of the trophies with City. This season he has found himself out of favour again but his future as a legend of the club and Stockport is not in doubt. We wouldn’t want to even try and guess at a value but it would be far, far north of £100m.
MANCHESTER UNITED: Marcus Rashford
The absolute king of 2023. We love him. Manchester United fans love him. Kids love him.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Sean Longstaff
There has clearly been a dearth of Newcastle Academy products in recent years, but it’s still laudable that Longstaff started for his hometown club in a cup final after a takeover that could have seen hum shuffled out of the door. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for a player that Newcastle over- and then under-valued.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST: Matty Cash
Cash, Johnson, Bamford is quite the list of almost-very-good Premier League players but it’s Cash who has established himself as a Premier League regular at Aston Villa, where he is midway through his third season as first-choice right-back.
SOUTHAMPTON: Ben White
A double entrant…White was released at the age of 16 by the Saints, later admitting: “When I was at Southampton I didn’t have any confidence.” We definitely need to update this list as White is better than Tyrone Mings, even though the latter will probably end up with more England caps.
TOTTENHAM: Harry Kane
A phenomenal goalscorer and brilliant footballer. We’re intrigued to see how much he would fetch on the open market, even at the age of 30 with just a year left on his contract.
WEST HAM: Declan Rice
Another double entrant…and it’s a bloody big drop to Reece Oxford.
WOLVES: Morgan Gibbs-White
Considering he is one of Wolves’ own – and that is a pretty exclusive club in modern times – there were few tears shed in Wolverhampton when Nottingham Forest came calling with £25m for the midfielder. The relationship with fans and manager (Bruno Lage, which seems a long time ago now) had soured and Gibbs-White has perhaps been Forest’s best player as they battle to avoid relegation.