When we talk about the best academies in the world of football, perhaps the first ones that come to mind are La Masia (Barcelona) and La Fabrica (Real Madrid).
However, one of the most underrated academies in the world is the FC Bayern Munich Junior Team. The youth academy has played a crucial role in elevating Bayern above the likes of 1860 Munich and the other German giants. The youth team has churned out various stars that have led the Bavarians to supremacy in Germany.
Ever since then, Bayern Munich have focused on nurturing young players who could possibly transform into world beaters. They have been responsible for producing some of the biggest talents in the world, such as Toni Kroos, David Alaba, and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
In this article, we take a look at the top 10 Bayern Munich academy graduates in Bundesliga history.
10 greatest Bayern Munich academy graduates in Bundesliga history:
#1 Franz Beckenbauer
Beckenbauer is one of the very few defenders to have won the coveted Ballon d'Or award during his glittering career. The German international transformed Bayern into a supreme force, and brought the club the recognition it deserved.
Beckenbauer won the league title five times, of which four of them were with Bayern. Moreover, he also won the European Cup thrice with the Bavarians. He was a supreme leader and led Bayern from the heart of the defense.
Beckenbauer was recognised for his sweeper role, and often indulged in blistering runs from his own penalty area to the opposition's box. The two-time Ballon d'Or winner's work rate was also noteworthy.
#2 Philipp Lahm
Philipp Lahm ended his career as one of the best full backs of this generation, if not the best. The German joined the Bavarians' youth team at the tender age of 11. Following his promotion to the senior team in 2002, he was loaned to VFB Stuttgart, as Willy Sagnol and Bixente Lizarazu were Bayern's first choice full backs back then.
Having completed a two year loan spell, he returned to Munich in 2005. Following his arrival, he was a regular starter by 2006. Lahm went on to consolidate his place in the starting XI, and put in many impressive performances.
He concluded his Bayern career after making 517 appearances for them. During his tenure, he won 8 Bundesliga titles, 1 UEFA Champions League, 1 UEFA Super Cup and 1 FIFA Club World Cup.
The defender was technically gifted, and possessed speed, precision, stamina, and great vision. Above all, he was a great leader. It was under his leadership that Bayern won the UCL in 2013, after losing two closely contested finals.
#3 Bastian Schweinsteiger
Another legendary player to have risen from the Bayern youth academy to the senior squad is Bastian Schweinsteiger. The German commenced his career as a winger due to his splendid dribbling ability and powerful striking.
During his time with Bayern, he was regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world. Known for his versatility, ball distribution, interceptions, vision, set pieces, crossing and powerful striking, he was a complete package.
Schweinsteiger made 500 appearances for the Bavarians and scored 68 goals for them. His tenure with the German giants was also filled with trophies.
#4 Toni Kroos
Toni Kroos has to be one of the biggest bargains of this generation. Real Madrid signed the German for a meagre €25 million. Having graduated from Bayern's youth academy, he joined the senior team in 2007. He went on to make 130 appearances for the German giants, before departing for the Spanish capital.
Kroos has been an instrumental player for Los Blancos, and has played a key role in their recent success. The 30-year-old has made 176 appearances for the Spanish giants, and has won three consecutive Champions League titles with them.
The German is known for his inch-perfect passing, set pieces, versatility, ball distribution, ball control, and vision. His impressive performances over the years for both Bayern and Madrid have seen him win several plaudits. Kroos is definitely one of the best midfielders in the world right now.
#5 Sepp Maier
Many believe that Oliver Kahn is the best goalkeeper in the history of the German giants, and perhaps the only one who comes close to his legacy is Manuel Neuer. Arguably, Kahn and Neuer are the best the Germans have witnessed, but they face stiff competition from Bayern's youth academy graduate Sepp Maier.
Maier was was nicknamed Die Katze von Anzing which translates to 'the cat from Anzing'. He was known for his lightning-fast reflexes, agility, flexibility and speed. He was famous for dominating his own box, and was a fan favourite in Munich.
Maier devoted his entire career to Bayern Munich, and represented them in 536 league games. During his time with the Bavarians, he lifted four league titles and three European Cups.
#6 Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck
Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck was another great talent who was nurtured by the Bayern youth academy. He formed an impenetrable duo with Beckenbauer. He was one of the best defenders of his era, but was overshadowed by Der Kaiser.
Schwarzenbeck was called Beckenbauer's bodyguard, as he would cover for him while he was high up the pitch. The German was known for his recoveries, unbreakable determination, and pin-point tackles. He remained a one club man throughout his career, and retired with six league titles and three European Cups.
#7 Thomas Muller
Thomas Muller has risen through the academy ranks to consolidate his place in this Bayern squad. One player who has been present throughout the highs and lows at the Allianz Arena is Muller.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Die Raumdeuter has made 521 appearances for Die Roten. During the course of his spell, he has scored 195 goals for his side, winning numerous accolades.
The 30-year-old has been a key figure for Bayern Munich. He plies his trade as a forward who can be accommodated anywhere in the forward line- be it on the wings, alongside the primary striker, or just behind the striker.
The German is lauded for his composure, mental strength, and work rate. Moreover, he possesses great tactical intelligence, and is one of the world's best poachers. Muller is known for finding and exploiting gaps in the opposition defence, and has had a great 2019/20 season so far.
#8 David Alaba
David Alaba has kept the left-back position for Bayern Munich in his control, since making his senior debut in 2010. The Austrian international has been one of the most consistent performers for the German giants. His performances have seen him labelled in the same bracket as Marcelo and Jordi Alba.
Despite being just 27 years of age, he has won the Austrian Player of the Year award 6 times. Moreover, he's won the Bundesliga 8 times. Being a regular, he has made 372 appearances for Bayern, wherein he's netted 30 goals for them.
Alaba formed a formidable duo with Ribery on the left flank, which saw them combine for numerous goals. The Austrian likes to move high up the pitch to help his side in attack. He likes to take on defenders, and engage in short passes to advance up the field steadily. Alaba is also known for taking spectacular free-kicks.
#9 Mats Hummels
Mats Hummels joined Bayern's youth academy in his childhood days. The German centre-half was tipped to become one of the best defenders in the world from a very young age, as he had all the traits necessary to succeed.
Despite this, Bayern made a blunder in selling the 31-year-old to their arch rivals Borussia Dortmund, to accommodate Holger Badstuber, who provided versatility. Hummels was the backbone of Jurgen Klopp's Dortmund side that lifted the Bundesliga twice, shattering the dominance of the Bavarians in the league.
He is known for his for tackling prowess, composure, interceptions, and aerial ability. Rectifying their mistake, Bayern bought back their academy graduate in 2016. The German international plied his trade in Munich for 3 seasons, and he won the Bundesliga title in each year, before moving back to Dortmund in 2019.
#10 Owen Hargreaves
The last person on this list is Owen Hargreaves. After graduating from the Bayern's youth academy, he was called up to the senior squad in 2000. The defensive midfielder plied his trade in Munich for six seasons, before leaving for Manchester United.
During his Bayern spell, he made 218 appearances for them and even scored 10 goals. His time in Munich was quite successful, as he won 4 Bundesliga titles. He also won the Champions League with the Bavarians. He remains one of the few English nationals to win the Champions League with a non-English club.
Hoping to embark on a new adventure, he moved to the Premier League, but his United spell was plagued with injuries. He ended his illustrious career with Manchester City in 2012, after United refused to extend his services in 2011.