Kaka to Real Madrid for €68.5 million in 2009.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona for €72 million, also in 2009.
The year 2009 will be remembered as the year in which the global financial markets spiraled downward into the depths of doom, triggering another Great Recession, the effects of which can still be felt today (C'mon, Greece).
But in world football, the summer of '09 will be remembered for the shattering of the transfer fee world records.
CR7, Ibra and Kaka combined cost a whopping €234.5 million, making them the first, third and fourth most expensive players in history. While the Dow Jones was at 9069.29 and U.S unemployment was roughly eight percent, the two top Iberian clubs splashed $300 million in the transfer window.
Factor in the rest of the world's soccer clubs, and you get a figure that is more than the GDP of small developing countries.
With transfer fees at astronomical highs, youth academies have grown greatly in importance. Academies remain the life blood of small clubs, and a huge moneymaker for larger clubs. Thus, youth academies have become better funded, and scouts recruit players at younger and younger ages—teaching young lads how to score a bicycle kick before they can even spell bicycle, let alone ride one.
Of course, some academies are better than others. This list will rank the top eight academies, in ascending order.