Every club wants to develop their own talent, and that is why most Premier League clubs plough tens of millions into their youth set-ups every season. For the top clubs, creating top class talent is hugely important so they don't have to keep buying entire squads. For lesser sides, a good academy can provide the most solid foundation for success, allowing the club to sell their academy products for huge profits, ensuring the financial security and future of the club.
For fans too, especially in the modern game in which it has become less common and in the Premier League more so than any other league, there are few greater sights than seeing a 'local lad', or at least an academy product gracing your clubs first team and mixing it in the Premier League with some of the finest players in world football. Arsenal, Tottenham and Southampton are currently the three teams with the most academy products in their first team squads.
Academy players in the Premier League tend to represent teams under-21 and under-18 sides, as well as often being loaned out to hone their skills at first team level. This is a list only of players who can be classified as 'academy' players, that is to say they have played very little or no first team football for their club. Young academy products who are already first team regulars are omitted. Here is every Premier League teams most exciting academy product:
20 Arsenal - Gedion Zelalem
19 Aston Villa - Callum Robinson
18 Bournemouth - Filippo Costa
17 Chelsea - Andreas Christensen
16 Crystal Palace - Hiram Boateng
15 Everton - Ryan Ledson
14 Leicester - Ben Chilwell
13 Liverpool - Wilson/Kent/Ojo
12 Manchester City - Jason Denayer
11 Manchester United - Marcus Rashford/Andreas Pereira
10 Newcastle - Rolando Aarons
9 Norwich - Josh Murphy
8 Southampton - Harrison Reed
7 Stoke - Oliver Shenton/Julien Ngoy
6 Sunderland - Lynden Gooch
5 Swansea - Kenji Gorre
4 Tottenham - Alex Pritchard
3 Watford - George Byers
2 West Brom - Tyler Roberts
1 West Ham - Reece Oxford
Quite possibly the easiest decision of any team on this list, Reece Oxford has all the tools to become a world class footballer, providing he has the right mentality and desire, especially in having to deal with the immense hope and expectations which have been placed upon him from such a young age. Oxford broke a 93 year record to become West Ham's youngest ever player in August 2015, and became the second youngest Premier League player of all-time a month later, when he made his mightily impressive league debut against Arsenal.
Capable of playing as either a central defender or midfielder, Oxford has been withheld from first team and international action by West Ham due to fear of burnout, but now aged 17, his involvement is likely to be gradually stepped up imminently.
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