It can be the key to a club's long-term success, with a productive academy system offering stability on the pitch and, at the same time, financial rewards.
While there are clubs who have little history of producing top level footballers themselves, there are also those who have a long tradition of bringing in their own players to first-team level.
Piecing together all the ingredients of a successful academy is far from straightforward and is reliant on a number of factors, right up to the availability of first-team football once players are nearing full development.
Bleacher Report, then, has attempted to rank the top academies in world football based on production levels in recent years.
For clarification, clubs which largely operate as "finishing schools" for talent developed elsewhere have been omitted in favour of those who bring players through from an earlier age.