Best Academy Products: 10 greatest graduates of all time from Manchester United
The Class of ‘92 arguably produced many talented footballersManchester United are one of the most recognisable sports brands in the world today. There are numerous factors that have played a role in that, but it was undoubtedly built on the regular churning out of championship winning teams at Old Trafford.These teams have one thing in common: all of them banked on talent from United’s famed academy setup. Never turning their backs on the academy, youth development has become a cherished tradition at the club.Louis van Gaal has only spent around a year managing the club but has already promoted a number of youth team players to the first team. Before him, during the silverware-filled 26 years of Sir Alex Ferguson, United-bred talent, known as ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’, epitomised the team.Even before Ferguson took the club to the cusp of global supremacy, Sir Matt Busby was almost single-handedly responsible for turning the fortunes of the club around after the Second World War.He did this using the academy products who came to be known as the ‘Busby Babes’. However, the tradition predates even Busby. Manchester United teams have fielded at least one youth-team player in every match-day squad for the past 80 years. It is an unbroken tradition that stretches back to 1935, one that survived all kinds of situations and many different managers and chairmen.Although the tradition continues, recent developments in and around England and Europe seem to show that United are actually losing out in the youth development arena. United have failed to hold on to talents such as Paul Pogba, Gerard Pique and Giuseppe Rossi.After the highs of the 90s and the early 2000s, few notable names have come out of the academy in recent years in what has been a worrying decline. Meanwhile, their neighbours Manchester City have been gradually building up a world-class academy setup that now has in its rolls, ironically, the sons of some former United stars. That said, no sane football fan can deny the sheer amount of talent that United's youth system has produced over the years.It has given the footballing world 2 Ballon D’Or winners, 2 World Champions and 9 members of the English football Hall of Fame. That is quite a record to be proud of.As part of Sportskeeda’s Best Academy Products series here is a list of the 10 best players to have been schooled at the Manchester United academy.
#10 Paul Pogba
This is one player that Sir Alex Ferguson will thoroughly regret letting go.
Paul Pogba was touted as one of the stars of the future when he signed for Manchester United as a 16-year-old from Le Havre in 2009. In his third year at the club, the Frenchman was promoted to the first team and he was expected to make a splash.
However, a combination of problems stalled his progress, most prominent of which was allegedly a breakdown in his relationship with Ferguson. He wanted a better contract than what he was offered, but Ferguson refused to budge. The gaffer didn’t trust Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola and it meant that Pogba was on his way out.
After arriving in Juventus in 2012, Pogba developed into one of the world’s best midfielders. He helped the Bianconeri to three domestic titles and a Champions League runners-up place.
At the international level, he captained France to the U-20 World Cup, winning the Golden Ball for himself. In 2014, he was named the World Cup’s Best Young Player.