There are clubs throughout the world that turn a profit with their academy, but none are as profitable as Benfica. The Portuguese club has made a knack for developing players and shipping them out across Europe. Now, that includes some of the best players in the world. Notable exports from the Benfica academy include the likes of Joao Cancelo, Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias and Goncalo Ramos.

In terms of revenue generated over the last 10 years, Benfica has raised more money than any club. This applies to players aged 15 to 21 who spent at least three years at their respective clubs. In other words, it applies to academy players moving elsewhere.

Most people may think clubs like Barcelona pop up on this list. However, it is the Portuguese club that tops the list. Moreover, Barcelona ranks 22nd, which is behind Aston Villa, Liverpool and Dinamo Zagreb. Also, Ajax and Lyon rank the second and third highest in terms of player sales out of the academy for the last 10 years.

The profitable academy of Benfica and its sales

With the recent track record of success out of the Benfica academy, it is clear to see why the club is so profitable. The most expensive move away from Benfica is Joao Felix when he moved to Atletico Madrid. The Spanish side shelled out a whopping $135 million. It is the fourth most expensive transfer in the history of soccer.

One of Benfica’s other big-money sales includes Ruben Dias for $75 million. Dias and Felix, like several other players, represent Benfica’s success with sales over the last five years. Football Observatory, which compiled the data of academy sales, noted that 68% of Benfica’s transfer revenue of academy players came in the last five years. Benfica sold $367 million worth of players in the last five years. Combined with the $200 million from the five years prior, Benfica has pooled $567 million since 2014.

What is most impressive is the gap between Benfica and the other clubs. The $567 million in player sales is more than $150 million than Ajax. Despite selling the likes of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong for $168 million, Ajax’s total sales over the last 10 years is $413 million.

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Notable clubs in the most profitable academies

Even if Benfica, Ajax, and Lyon have not had the success that matches the talent coming out of the academy, some clubs have succeeded on the field while dishing players for major profit. None of those is more recognizable than Real Madrid. Los Blancos ranks fourth in terms of profit from academy sales in the last 10 years.

Rounding out the top five is Chelsea, but most of that has come in the last five years. Of Chelsea’s $380 million in academy sales in the last decade, $337 million of that came after 2019. That coincides with the massive player interchange that has happened at Stamford Bridge since Todd Boehly took over.

Chelsea is one of three teams from the Premier League that is in the top 10. The other two are Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City. The first club from outside Europe is Flamengo from Brazil. Flamengo is 13th in this list of academy sales over the last 10 years. Pachuca is the only club in the top 100 from North America. The Mexican side has amassed $64 million in sales. That is more than clubs like RB Leipzig and Lens, both of which are in the UEFA Champions League.