Ronaldo, Moutinho and many more – Sporting’s famous youth academy turns 20 years old

By FPL360
Ronaldo, Moutinho and many more – Sporting’s famous youth academy turns 20 years old


The best in Europe 

A few kilometres east of Lisbon is a small town of around 13,000 people called Alcochete. This part of Portugal is known for its claywork, natural beauty and, in recent decades, for being a constant conveyor belt of young players that have gone on to become international stars. Founded on June 21, 2002, Sporting CP created a sports centre for their youth teams that has potentially become the most impressive facility of its kind in all of European football. And undoubtedly changed the face of football across the continent over the past 20 years. 

Undoubtedly, the facility’s most famous son is none other than Cristiano Ronaldo. Although the famed Manchester United No.7 only earned the club €19 million in transfer fees when he left, he forged a path that countless others have followed. And along the way Sporting have won 14 major titles and hundreds of millions from transfer fees for the young players that they have reared.

Ronaldo, Moutinho & Co. – The most expensive homegrown players to leave Sporting

15 Tiago Ilori – 2013/14 – €7.5m

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Joined Liverpool

14 Miguel Veloso – 2010/11 – €9m

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Joined Genoa

13 Matheus Pereira – 2020/21 – €9.05m

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Joined West Brom

12 João Moutinho – 2010/11 – €11m

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Joined Porto

11 Thierry Correia – 2019/20 – €12m

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Joined Valencia

10 Hugo Viana – 2002/03 – €12.75m

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Joined Newcastle

9 Bruma – 2013/14 – €13m

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Joined Galatasaray

8 Rúben Semedo – 2017/18 – €14m

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Joined Villarreal

7 William Carvalho – 2018/19 – €16m

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Joined Real Betis

6 Rui Patrício – 2018/19 – €18m

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Joined Wolves

5 Cristiano Ronaldo – 2003/04 – €19m

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Joined Manchester United

4 Gelson Martins – 2018/19 – €22m

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Joined Atletico

3 Nani – 2007/08 – €25.5m

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Joined Manchester United

2 João Mário – 2016/17 – €40m

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Joined Inter Milan

1 Nuno Mendes – 2022/23 – €45m

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Joined PSG

Although Ronaldo is the most famous, João Mário remains the most profitable, having left the club for €40m in 2016 to join Inter Milan. Nuno Mendes, who left for Paris Saint-Germain this summer for €38m may come to eclipse the former Sporting star if add-ons are eventually paid out, to take his deal with the French giants up to €45m.

However, Mendes is only the second most valuable former Sporting youth graduate, with current AC Milan star Rafael Leão currently valued at €70m. Unfortunately for Sporting, the left winger left after just three first team appearances and for a paltry sum of €500k. Which just goes to show that even the best youth academy in the world can’t always get it right.

Sporting CP starting XI




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