Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United rely most heavily on academy graduates, study finds

The Red Devils have overtaken Arsenal, who topped the charts in the previous two seasons.

Paul Pogba, left, and Marcus Rashford were homegrown regulars for Manchester United (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Paul Pogba, left, and Marcus Rashford were homegrown regulars for Manchester United (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Manchester United displaced Arsenal last season as the Premier League team relying most heavily on graduates of their own academy.

United’s famed youth system produced the most players across the Premier League as a whole for the third year in succession, but the tally of minutes given to homegrown players has previously been the Gunners’ domain.

For the 2018-19 season, however, United’s academy did the double as almost a quarter of their playing time went to talent developed in Carrington.

Key trio lift United to top spot

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(PA Graphic)

PA has once again tracked the playing time of every player in last season’s Premier League along with the club or academy where they finished their youth career.

Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard continued to lead United’s homegrown contingent, with the former pair increasing their playing time to 3,245 and 2,494 minutes respectively while Lingard dipped slightly to 1,765.

Scott McTominay played 953 minutes and fellow midfielder Andreas Pereira 660 as United gave 9,334 minutes of playing time to homegrown players – up from 6,858 the previous season and accounting for 23 per cent of the club’s league season including stoppage time.

Their rise to top spot also stems in part from Arsenal’s tally dropping from 7,933 minutes to 4,976. Injuries roughly halved Hector Bellerin’s involvement while Jack Wilshere left the club, along with lesser contributors from 2017-18 in Francis Coquelin and Hoffenheim loanee Reiss Nelson.

That dropped them all the way to seventh in the homegrown standings, leaving north London rivals Tottenham to provide the main challenge to United as they did in the league-wide academy study. Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Harry Winks were regulars for Spurs, supplemented by just over 650 minutes shared between Kyle Walker-Peters, Oliver Skipp and Luke Amos.

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Crystal Palace will not repeat their performance if Wilfried Zaha, centre left, follows Aaron Wan-Bissaka, centre, out of the club (Yui Mok/PA)

Crystal Palace ranked third, though their hold on that position looks fragile with Aaron Wan-Bissaka sold to United and Wilfried Zaha also consistently linked with a move away – that would leave only midfielder Luke Dreher’s four minutes from the season’s tally.

Declan Rice’s emergence lifted West Ham to fourth while Southampton and Leicester also surpassed Arsenal. Saints matched United for the most homegrown players used – nine.

City lag behind but hopes high for Foden

In contrast to their local rivals, Manchester City trailed the entire league in the use of homegrown players.

Despite the significant investment in City’s academy facilities adjacent to the Etihad Stadium, Phil Foden was the only in-house graduate to feature for Pep Guardiola’s side on their way to the league title.

The talented midfielder played just 371 minutes in 13 league appearances, including only three starts – though his involvement in the Champions League and domestic cup competitions means hopes remain high for the 19-year-old, whom Pep Guardiola recently labelled “the most talented player I have ever seen”.

City also won last season’s Under-18 Premier League Cup and reached the FA Youth Cup final – and of course, fans will look at the Premier League table and be happier with their lot than that of United.

Bright spot for Terriers

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Aaron Rowe was one of several youngsters to feature as Huddersfield planned for the future (Richard Sellers/PA)

There were 66 players in last season’s Premier League representing the club which developed them, an increase of four on 2017-18’s figures.

Only five clubs had five or more as United and Southampton were joined by Spurs and Arsenal, with six apiece, and Huddersfield.

Town were relegated in ignominious fashion but Phillip Billing, now departed for Bournemouth, and Tommy Smith remained regular first-team contributors while youngsters Matty Daly, Aaron Rowe and Demeaco Duhaney featured late in the season as 9.4 per cent of playing time went to homegrown players.

Six of one…

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Lewis Dunk is a reliable homegrown presence for Brighton (Gareth Fuller/PA)

City were one of half a dozen Premier League teams to use a solitary graduate of their own academy, though many featured far more than Foden.

Lewis Dunk, ever-present the previous season, played 3,376 minutes in 2018-19 to single-handedly put Brighton ninth in homegrown playing time, while Cardiff’s Joe Ralls and Watford’s Adrian Mariappa each played over 2,000 minutes.

Dwight McNeil is the only homegrown player to play for Burnley in the three years of the study but having only made his league debut in the last two minutes of the 2017-18 campaign, he established himself last term with 1,683 minutes, three goals and five assists.

Morgan Gibbs-White broke into Wolves’ line-up with 766 minutes – like Foden, he will hope to build on that in the coming season.

PA

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