Football teams better to buy or grow them?

We visited the club with the most homegrown players and the one with the fewest minutes played by homegrown players in Europe: Sigma Olomouc and Bayer Leverkusen. Two philosophies, two identities. What can others learn from them?

Homegrown players transfers every football team big or small is built using a blend of these two recruitment strategies so we’ve taken a closer look at two clubs who take each one to the extreme in the search not just for success but for identity on one side we went to find out more about czech club sigma olympus who topped the list for most homegrown players

In europe so we kind of built the family around the club at the other end of the scale by a leverkusen the german club gives fewer minutes to academy products than any other team they’ve become famous for their innovative scouting techniques we try to create a young squad with a lot of talent we’re able to handle the talents that’s a perfect environment most clubs

Search for the right mix but these two are committed to their path and their identity our main goal is to get footballers professional only two or three of them are going to get to the first team and this is a big number but the rest of them the rest of the players we want them to become the coaches to the teachers or the parents of other children which are gonna

Come back to the club they can become our big sponsors or the fans so we can build the family around the club that was jakob benej the head of youth development at sigma olomuts the club who play in the czech top flight used 17 homegrown players the joined most in europe in their first team in the 2020-21 season those 17 players played 52 of the club’s minutes

The third highest across the continent so why are they going against the grain in olamuts the city of just under 400 000 people lies 250 kilometers east of prague in the czech republic close to the polish border here a belief in homegrown talent and the power of people combines with financial circumstance to create a special development environment and a club

Like few others yeah it’s kind of fun kindergarten and this is our kindergarten yeah with a school attached to the club and staff players and coaches almost exclusively x academy products like banish himself the family feeling runs deep in a club majority owned by the local community but the hard truth is that this will never be enough for clubs competing at the

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Top end of european football like bayer leverkusen the bundesliga side are the direct strategic opposite to sigma with less than one percent of their playing minutes in 2020 to 21 going to homegrown players leverkusen consider themselves in very different terms one thing is clear having our goals with the first team to play champions league and to play on the

Top level in germany there’s no doubt that this quality has to has a used player it’s not about to to open the space and say okay then we are the seventh for eight position anchors no no no what we need is clear and if a player hits it we will give him the trust and we will create space and the squad that he has game time etc that was simon rolfes he captained

By a leverkusen for a decade won 26 caps for germany and then became levicus and sporting director his club have long relied on the transfer market to try and keep pace leverkusen enjoy a reputation for innovative scouting methods especially for signing more than 40 players from south america including the likes of arturo vidal lucio charles arrangis diego

Placente and emerson some of whom they sold on for a hefty profit the rest of the league is still playing catch-up in the region before that when the berlin wall came down leverkusen under the watch of former executive reiner kalmund were the first west german club to swoop for newly available players like andreas tom and ulf kiersten who had been playing

In the east under the communist gdr regime but other clubs have followed leverkusen into the south american market and the wall has been down since 1989 and with bayern as dominant as ever rolfes has to find other ways to think smart his focus is now on signing young players before they reach their potential the transfer market you decide a lot it depends

On the environment you have on your dna for bioliver cousin would be successful if you only have 33 old players we try to grow with talent with this potential of suppliers and then make steps forward and try to keep them maybe one year longer two years longer personality is also very decisive so not only is it the talent or the potential it’s also does he has

The right mentality to use it so far it seems to be working leverkusen’s signings from youth academies foreign clubs and fellow german outfits have produced a squad of young players that’s among the most exciting in europe data from the to 21 season showed purchased players played 99 percent of their league minutes musa dr b patrick schick jeremy frimpong

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Edmund tapsaba and mitchell backer all arrived from elsewhere in europe all are now worth plenty more than what holfer’s paid plenty of successful clubs give a very low percentage of their playing time to stars from their own academies inter juventus manchester city ebay leipzig and paris saint-germain are among those who rely heavily on the market rather than

Their own production lines but that’s not the only way to do things spanish side athletic bilbao are a notable outlier homegrown players account for more than half the squad’s playing time but their reliance on their academy is a result of their cantera policy which means they can only develop or buy players from the basque region emeric laporte javi martinez

And fernando yorente are among those who came through the ranks identity is also a factor at manchester united the premier league club used 15 academy players in 2020 to 21 and maintain an astounding record united have had a homegrown player in every matchday squad since 1937. a run stretching well over 4 000 games success without spending may be possible depending

On how you judge it but winning trophies without making transfers is unthinkable in modern football even at sigma olympus they know they need to add a few ingredients from elsewhere to keep things fresh to make it to european competition in 2018-19 and is back at the club after a spell at sparta prague but with sparta’s city rival slavia and victoria pilzen

Having shared the last 14 czech titles and sigma short of investment he knows his club has to look to the long term and develop what they have the cost of running sigma’s youth programs is about 700 000 euros per year as some that could be recouped by the sale of just one homegrown player as it was in 2019 when lukasz calvac joined and like sigma leverkusen

Recognized that putting all their eggs in one basket is not wise for decades they’ve been known as a club that thrives in the transfer market but a couple of special talents from their region of germany have seen them start to look a little closer to home even the strongest identity must have some room for exceptions florian vietz grew up about 20 kilometers

Away from leverkusen stadium but was in the youth academy of nearby cologne until 2020 when he joined leverkusen’s youth setup he didn’t take long to establish himself briefly becoming the bundesliga’s youngest scorer with this goal against bayern he was 17 years and 34 days old viets quickly managed to replace the youth product who seemed irreplaceable kai

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Havertz netted leverkusen 85 million euros when he left to join chelsea and rolfes knows super clubs are already sniffing around viets but that’s all part of the plan with his quality he has the potential to be a world class player that he will leave us one day i’m pretty sure we try to keep him as long as possible because i think in the next years he has a

Fantastic environment here and it’s a good place to develop when i spoke with him about signing him for us that he can play with kai havats together train with him learn from him and that was a big motivation for him harvard’s current club chelsea are one of those who took the oligarch-sponsored shortcut to success but that path is blocked for most clubs back at

Sigma they still dream of adding to their sole piece of major silverware the 2012 czech cup but while they want to close the gap to the teams that dominate their league they measure their success a little differently for me it’s the most important that we’re gonna be able to show the kids that to have a sport part of their lifestyle is good because even if you

Get professional or not the way you you kind of you move and do some sport it’s going to get you in shape you have to work in a team and this is really important for me for life within the football so i hope that my son is going to have sport part of his lifestyle it’s clear that the aims and resources of sigma olomuts and bayer leverkusen are very different

The czech club see the personal and sporting development of local youth as a measure of success whereas the german side are focused primarily on goals and victories what unites them is a commitment to their strategy to maintaining their club’s dna maybe it will end in them overhauling bayern munich or slavia prague maybe it won’t but these two clubs have found

Strength in identity and that offers some valuable lessons to everyone in football you

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Football teams – better to buy or grow them? By DW Kick off!