France is one of the top destinations in Europe having some of the best football Academies that produced some notable players.
France football Academies could be traced back to the 20th century when clubs like FC Nantes and AS Saint-Étienne developed a modern Academy to help its team conquer France.
Today, almost every team that competes in the French Ligue 1 boast a working development team that helps in the discovery, recruiting and development of young players across the country.
For young players wishing to join an academy in France, there’s no other time than now there’s an abundance of Academies scattered all over the country.
What is the best football Academy in France? Today there are several Academies in France that have produced players who currently play in the top flight as well as other leagues across Europe.
FC Nantes and AS Saint-Étienne were the first set of teams in the First Division to have a modern youth development team which also forms part of their history.
In France top teams like PSG, AS Monaco, Rennes, Lyon have the best youth setup.
Note: teams ranked in no particular order but based on performance, organization, standard
Ranking the best football Youth Academies in France
1. Olympique Lyonnais
As one of the most successful teams in French football history, Olympique Lyonnais was able to develop one of the biggest youth development academies in France.
Olympique Lyonnais Academy located in a major city in Europe, it is powered by one of the best training academies on the European continent.
It has produced some of the most popular names including Karim Benzema, Anthony Martial, Samuel Umtiti, etc.
The club heavily funds its youth academy which has made it increasingly successful based on the brilliance of homegrown young players.
At Lyon, the culture is all about faith in young players. A move that has helped the club over the years.
Lyon is still one of the few clubs in France and on the European continent that spends less on players, that is the club has a reduced purchasing power on the transfer market.
At the club, there’s a collection of youth coaches, trainers, coordinators working closely to bring out the best in the players at the academy.
Stade Rennais is one of the best teams in France historically backed by a well-established football Academy.
The club has been successful in the area of discovering as well as developing these young talents into world-class players.
Also Read: How to join Bayern Munich Academy
Some of the top graduates at Stade Rennais have gone on to join major football clubs in France and other European football clubs.
Stade Rennais was recognised as having the best youth academy in France in 2010.
Today, it serves as the main base where players are recruited, developed and promoted unto the senior team.
The Academy has produced several notable talents, such as Ousmane Dembélé, Yacine Brahimi, Eduardo Camavinga, Yoann Gourcuff, Moussa Sow, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Tiémoué Bakayoko and Mikaël Silvestre.
The club desires to nurture young talent, help them reach a level of maturity. Also creating a conducive environment and allows the best of them to move on to the top clubs in Europe.
The main tradition is to keep the best legs around.
Despite the departure of some of the best legs, the club remains one of the best teams in France at youth development.
3. Paris Saint-Germain
PSG Academy is one of the most outstanding teams in France, producing several renowned players such as Jean-Marc Pilorget, Nicolas Anelka, Kingsley Coman, Adrien Rabiot, Alphonse Areola, Presnel Kimpembe, etc.
Having a balanced and efficient player development academy, many graduates have also gone on to sign professional contracts with the club.
Today, it is recognized as one of the best in the country, winning the Championnat National U19 a record four titles.
The Paris Saint-Germain Academy now has centres in several countries around the world.
4. AS Monaco
The AS Monaco Academy is one of the most outstanding in France over the years and has helped young players from France as well as foreigners.
Monaco has also produced some of the best young players in France.
Also Read: How to join AS Monaco Academy
5. AS Saint Etienne
AS Saint-Étienne Academy is one of the most outstanding academics in France historically.
Backing the club during its early success, the Academy has continued to develop players to date.
During the 2020/21 season, over 36.5% of the first team players according to CIES Observatory were from the youth development academy.
6. FC Nantes Academy
FC Nantes Academy was among the first two modern football Academies in France.
The youth development academy has produced several notable players who have gone on to represent the senior team.
It is also one of the clubs whose faith lies on young players. A unique part of the team is the but the most impressive is the class and tactical discipline on and off the field.
Les Canaris”, established a system that gave birth to a distinctive football style called “jeu à la nantaise”.
It is based on technical abilities, ball possession and tactical abilities which is still the style of play of Nantes to date.
7. Le Havre Athletic Club
Le Havre Athletic Club Academy is one of the famous youth development teams in France.
The club has spent heavily on its youth academy, nurturing them with the vision of accelerating their career to a professional level.
Most of the graduates are promoted to the first team. Also, the majority of the good enough players have gone on to join some of the top clubs in Europe.
Several notable players including Benjamin Mendy, Lassana Diarra, Riyad Mahrez, Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet, were products of the Le Havre Athletic Club.
How to join these Academies
Most France football Academies rely on recommendations as well as players identified through their scouting units.
For players to stand a chance of getting selected, they’ll need to attend scouting events scattered all over France.
Although most clubs would prefer players identified through its scouting system, there Academies you could still apply for admission.
Some of these teams are offered almost free or at an affordable rate.
What interested players should do is to apply for the respective Academy they’re interested to join.
You could also send emails to some of these teams attaching important files such as footage, clips, etc.
Open day trials
You could also cut through Open day trials in major city centres in the country.
Open day trials could be paid or free sessions. Although it is recommended you consider you go for paid open day trials to boost your chances of getting selected by a big club.
Youth Football System in France
France is currently one of the talent hotbeds in the world. Over there in France, young players are discovered and trained to become world-class players.
Apart from the specialised Academies, there are special schools that provide a basic learning environment as well as teach players what they need to know.
In France, almost half of the youth development programs are sponsored by Professional football clubs lol Olympique Lyonnais, Paris Saint-Germain.
These Professional teams go into youth development with the vision of getting these players to play for their respective teams.
Players between the age of 11 and 14 are usually detected and selected for middle school specialized in sports development.
At the end of the day after graduation, these players are selected by Professional football Academies.
These Academies offers players an opportunity to feature in top Professional leagues like the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.
Interestingly these youth academies produce about over 70 new professional players every year with some as graduates for their respective first team.
This makes the French youth football system one of the best in the world.
Most notable French footballers from top football Academies
Paul Pogba is one of the brightest players in world football today. He was a product of Le Havre.
Today, Pogba has played for some of the biggest football clubs in Europe like Juventus, Manchester United (current).
He’s won the FIFA World Cup, Nations League, Série A, Europa League, Coppa Italia, etc.
Thierry Henry was a product of AS Monaco. He moved to Premier League side Arsenal in 1999 where he helped the club win notable trophies like the Premier League, FA Cup, FA Community Shield.
He moved to Barcelona, where he lifted the UEFA Champions League for the first time after runners up appearances in 2005–06 with Arsenal.
Henry also won the La Liga, Copa del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup with Barcelona.
Nicolas Anelka who was a product of the Paris Saint-Germain has featured for some of the most famous European football clubs.
He played for big clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Fenerbahçe, etc.
Nicolas Anelka won UEFA Champions League, the FA Cup, Premier League, Série A, and Süper Lig Turkey.
At the national team level, he won the European Football Championship, FIFA Confederations Cup.
Karim Benzema, a product of Olympique Lyonnais is one of the most outstanding French football Academy graduates.
At Lyon, he won four French Ligue 1 titles as well as the Coupe de France and Trophée des Champions.
At Real Madrid, Benzema wrote his name as one of the club’s best players.
He’s won the La Liga, UEFA Champions League four times as a player including three consecutive titles.
He’s also won the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
The best football Academies in France are Olympique Lyonnais, PSG, Le Havre, AS Monaco, etc. You could be part of these teams through scouting events or report from affiliate clubs.