Wanna Be Starting Something

Earlier this week, Porto beat Chelsea 3-1 in the Uefa Youth League Final. A win at last for a Portuguese side after Benfica’s defeats in the 13/14 and 16/17 finals. We took a look back at some of the sides to have won the tournament since its inception in 2013 to see if any of the players have actually made it through to play for their teams.

Unfortunately, the answer is pretty unequivocal. Not only do players generally not make it through to their own side’s senior teams, they often don’t make it at the top level at all and find themselves still stuck in B teams or lower divisions.

The most notable players to have come through from Barcelona’s winning side in 2014 are Wolves’ Adama Traoré and Sevilla’s Munir El Haddadi but neither of them have been able to achieve any sort of consistency yet. In fact, the best player to come out of the 2014 final was on the losing side with Benfica; Gonçalo Guedes.

Youth league teams.jpg *On loan

It might come as a surprise that out of all the sides to have won the Uefa Youth League so far, Chelsea have had the most success at bringing players through into their first team. Andreas Christensen and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are the evidence – both were in the side that won the 2015 final against Shakhtar Donetsk. As you might expect though, with the exception of Dominic Solanke who is now third choice striker at Bournemouth, most of the rest of the side find themselves out on loan at various clubs throughout the English football pyramid or at partner club Vitesse.

None of the Chelsea players from the winning side the season after have been able to impress for Chelsea yet but Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham have both had very successful spells in the Championship and could yet come back to have a say at Stamford Bridge. On the losing side that year were PSG and Christopher Nkunku, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Jean-Kévin Augustin all look to be exciting talents.

It seems harsh to judge the players that were involved in finals from 2017 onward as they’re all still under 21 so all we’ll say is that we can’t wait to see more of Riqui Puig. Great name, Barca, Catalonia… That’ll be all.

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