As we approach the end of another exciting transfer season it got me wondering. Which country possess the best “talent pond” in world football a few leagues can be introduced into this debate with the Eredivisie boasting a number of home grown talents in the early 2000’s such as Edwin Van Der Saar, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Ruud Van Nistelrooy and Robin Van Persie to more recent years with Matthijs De Ligt, Frenkie De Jong, Georginio Wijnaldum, Sergino Dest and Donny Van De Beek.
But also helping young foreign exports to realize their potentials and getting into the eyesight of the European giants as it was with Ronaldo Nazario , Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Suarez, Hakim Ziyech, Memphis Depay, Wilfred Bony, Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen.
An argument can be made for the Belgian League with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and more recently Victor Osimhen, Jonathan David, Jeremy Doku and Sander Berge.
I would exclude LaLiga Santander and the Bundesliga as they are widely considered some of the best leagues in the world containing some of the best teams, albeit Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy have had fruitful success with arguably the greatest team of all time in the Guardiola era, having all core players from their academy, or even Borussia Dortmund, famously known as a top club that believes in youth.
Leaving the winner, Liga Portugal BWIN which had a significant 2021 as it broke into the top 5 coefficient league rankings relegating the French League to 6th. The talent that has left the league have gone on to do marvellous things in the big European stage, with the limelight on a certain Island boy that holds the most important goal records in World Football.
Apart from a country as small as Portugal consistently producing World Class talents, the most impressive part is buying (mainly) South American talent for peanuts, developing them into the next stars and selling them for huge profit typically done by the two biggest teams in the league Benfica and Porto with the odd surprise in the less known teams.
Porto who were led by Jose Mourinho famously won the Champions League in the 2003-04 season by precisely a youthful team combined of homegrown talent and unproven foreign exports in which the majority went on to have amazing careers. A similar story to their Europa League triumph in the 2010-11 season under Andre Villas Boas.
The northern clubs best exports include names such as James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao, Hulk, Eder Militao, Joao Moutinho, Vitor Baia, Ricardo Carvalho, Anderson, Deco, Lisandro Lopez, Eliaquim Mangala and Andre Telles. Huge names in that list that can potentially only be topped by the club with the most league titles in Portuguese League history, Benfica.
Names such as Angel Di Maria, Ramires, Jan Oblak, Ederson, Axel Witsel, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Rodrigo Moreno, Ruben Dias, Raul Jimenez, David Luiz, Nelson Semedo, Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo, Simao Sabrosa, Tiago, Goncalo Guedes, Renato Sanches to name a few.
Diamonds in the dirt that were polished, won titles and left to greener pastures.
Sporting Club de Portugal cannot be left out the conversation as arguably the greatest player of all time was produced here, the great Ricky van Wolfswinkel, as well as a few other known stars; Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Bruno Fernandes, Paulo Futre, Simao Sabrosa, Pepe, Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho have all been developed from ‘Academia Cristiano Ronaldo’.
A few other notable players to have had stints in the Portuguese League include Fabinho, Diego Costa, Thiago Silva, Raphinha and Carlos Vinicius.
Keep an eye out on the following as they are more then likely to be the next group of stars to star in the big European stages, Darwin Nunez (Benfica), Luis Diaz (Porto), Pedro Goncalves (Sporting), Joao Palhinha (Sporting) Marcus Edwards (Guimaraes), Roger Fernandes (Braga), Fabio Viera (Porto), Goncalo Ramos (Benfica), Paulo Bernardo (Benfica).
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