Athletic Continues To Lead La Liga Clubs With Most Academy Players In The First Team Squad
Lezama is the pillar on which Athletic Club has been built. Due to the club’s unique philosophy they have always placed a heavy emphasis on youth development and have one of the top academies in all of world football. The Lions take great pride in the fact that the majority of their first team squad is made up of players from their academy and they continue to lead La Liga clubs in that area.
This season Athletic have 18 players in their first team that spent time at Lezama during their youth development: Unai Simón, Alex Remiro, Iago Herrerín, Unai Nuñez, Yeray, Peru Nolaskoain, Ander Capa, Iñigo Lekue, Yuri Berchiche, Mikel San José, Beñat, Ander Iturraspe, Unai López, Iñigo Córdoba, Iker Muniain, Iñaki Williams, Markel Susaeta, and Gorka Guruzeta.
Taking it a step further, Hodei Oleaga has spent the first four matches of the season as the backup goalkeeper which could raise that number to 19, although he still isn’t considered a first team player. Aritz Aduriz and Oscar De Marcos may not have attended Lezama, but they did play for Bilbao Athletic before moving up to the first team. Mikel Rico also played for feeder club CD Basconia but never spent time at Lezama either.
Athletic’s 18 former academy players in their first team is by far the most in La Liga. Basque rivals Real Sociedad come in second place with 12 players, followed by Villarreal with 10 and Barcelona and Espanyol who both have 9. Athletic’s focus on youth develop is one of the biggest reasons for the team’s sustained success and is a source of pride for the fans, players, and club.