Lezama, the seventh most prolific academy in Europe's top leagues

Lezama, the seventh most prolific academy in Europe's top leagues

With 24 academy players in Europe's top leagues, Athletic are only behind Real Madrid (44), FC Barcelona (40), Olympique Lyonnais (31), Valencia CF (29), Paris St. Germain (28) and Manchester United (26)

Athletic Club have the seventh highest number of academy-trained players currently competing in Europe's top five leagues (LaLiga, Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1) according to the latest report by the prestgious Swiss research centre, CIES Football Observatory.

Twenty-four Athletic academy products are playing in these leagues, 16 of them for Los Leones' senior side: Unai Simón, Julen Agirrezabala, Dani Vivián, Aitor Paredes, Yeray Alvarez, Imanol, Oihan Sancet, Galarreta, Peru Nolaskoain, Beñat Prados, Unai Gómez, Iñaki Williams, Iker Muniain, Nico Williams, Gorka Guruzeta and Asier Villalibre. 

The eight footballers at different teams are: Kepa Arrizabalaga (Real Madrid), Alex Remiro (Real Sociedad), Aitor Fernández (CA Osasuna), Raúl Fernández (Granada CF), Unai López (Rayo Vallecano), Unai Núñez (RC Celta), Javier Areso (CA Osasuna) and Oier Zarraga (Udinese). 

Real Madrid top the ranking with 44 players, followed by FC Barcelona (40), Olympique Lyonnais (31), Valencia (29), Paris Saint-Germain (28) and Manchester United (26). Next on the list is Athletic (24). The Top-10 is rounded off by Hoffenheim (24), Chelsea (23) and Bayern Munich (23).

The CIES Football Observatory follows the UEFA criteria for determining whether a player is an academy product or not, only considering footballers who have been at a club for at least three seasons between the ages of 15 and 21.

For this reason, the report includes 16 current members of Athletic's senior squad, leaving out others who, either because they initially came to the club and left before they turned 15 or because they played for affiliated clubs in that period, did not spend three full seasons at Athletic Club between the ages of 15 and 21. Therefore, some footballers who have turned out for Lezama youth teams, such as Lekue, Vesga, Yuri, De Marcos and Adu Ares, are not counted among the 16 taken into account for this report.

However, the CIES report shows that no other side has more academy products in their current first team than Athletic with 16. Next in this ranking are Real Sociedad (12), Valencia (11), Freiburg (9), Osasuna (9), Las Palmas (9) and FC Barcelona (8).