Chelsea and Arsenal were the leading producers of Premier League players in the 2022-23 season, research by the PA news agency has found.
The two clubs’ academy products each racked up just over 21,000 minutes of playing time but remarkably were separated by just 37 seconds, with Chelsea edging top spot.
Here, the PA news agency looks at the main stories to come out of the data.
On August 6, 2022, Chelsea sent on Conor Gallagher to replace Jorginho in the ninth added minute of their season-opening 1-0 win over Everton.
It may have been a mere game management move by then-manager Thomas Tuchel but Gallagher’s two-and-a-half-minute appearance – Chelsea’s shortest all season – ended up deciding top spot in the academy study.
PA’s data includes minutes and seconds played by each player in every match, including stoppage time, and the total of 21,031 minutes and 44 seconds for Chelsea graduates put them fractionally ahead of their Arsenal counterparts’ 21,031 minutes, seven seconds.
On comes Conor Gallagher!
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) August 6, 2022
The other headline news is that Manchester United – leaders in every previous edition of the academy study, most recently after the 2018-19 season – drop to fourth place and have been overtaken by rivals Manchester City, whose total of almost 19,458 minutes is over 1,500 behind the leading pair.
United graduates managed just under 18,533 minutes and they gave playing time to five products of their own academy – Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Alejandro Garnacho, Anthony Elanga and Kobbie Mainoo.
Relegated Southampton completed the top five with almost 16,570 minutes.
What they said
Former AFC Wimbledon manager Mark Robinson is now Chelsea’s development squad head coach.
He recently told The Athletic: “If the (youth-team) trophies come, that’s great. But it’s more about ‘who is the next one we can produce for the first team?’.
“It’s also given the other lads an incentive — the ones who have trained with the first team but haven’t played yet, plus the ones who haven’t had the opportunity. It drives them on, thinking ‘am I going to be next?’.”
Arsenal’s habit of handing key roles to their recent players, with manager Mikel Arteta working alongside technical director Edu, extends to the youth set-up with Per Mertesacker and Jack Wilshere as academy manager and under-18 coach respectively.
Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah lead the homegrown contingent in the first team and Mertesacker told the club’s website: “It feels really positive. It sends a message that we need to be developing strong, young individuals who can cope with pressure. I like that, setting standards at the highest level.
“We have always been at the forefront of giving young players a chance. This is something that has been part of Arsenal DNA forever.
“You have to look at a 10-year cycle in the academy. I’m looking at the next three years thinking ‘this is when the real work starts’.”
It is not just Premier League clubs represented in the study, with many players’ English Football League beginnings and the top flight’s global reach also captured.
In fact Dutch club Ajax rank sixth, just ahead of domestic heavyweights Liverpool and Tottenham.
Sven Botman, Kenny Tete, Pascal Struijk, Joel Veltman and Christian Eriksen each played over 2,000 minutes as Donny van de Beek and Jairo Riedewald rounded out a group of seven Ajax graduates.
Benfica were 10th behind Nottingham Forest and produced as many players in Manchester City’s treble-winning squad – four – as City’s own academy.
Fellow Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon are 11th with Anderlecht, Genk, Nice and St Etienne also in the top 20.
Sheffield United were the top EFL side in 17th as they secured their return to the Premier League, while League One Charlton were 20th.
Far and wide
There were 277 academies represented in the study, with playing time ranging from Chelsea and Arsenal’s totals all the way down to Lagans AIK’s three minutes and 22 seconds in a solitary appearance for Newcastle full-back Emil Krafth.
Lagan were one of 190 academies represented by just a single player each, Blackburn ranking highest among them thanks to David Raya’s 3,765 minutes for Brentford.
The Bees themselves produced only Bournemouth defender Chris Mepham, whose 2,408 minutes placed them 132nd in the rankings and last among the 20 top-flight clubs.
Only seven clubs hit double figures for players – Chelsea in front again with 16, one more than Manchester United. City produced 14, Arsenal and Southampton 13 apiece, Liverpool 11 and Tottenham 10.