Problems of a World Cup without Italy: Why are there no Serie A academy graduates on show in Qatar?

Italy's failure to qualify for another World Cup has highlighted some problems in Italian football, but why else are there no Italian academy graduates playing in Qatar?

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There are no players which have participated at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar that have come through at Serie A clubs or from youth systems in Italy.

With the Azzurri failing to qualify for the tournament for the second time in a row, it was evident that figure would dwindle. Despite the increasing presence of foreign players in Italian youth teams, it seems that the Campionato Primavera has not been great at nurturing foreign talent either.

The clubs considered in this list are those where players have stayed for at least three years between the ages of 15 and 21.

Ajax production line leads the way, England academies well represented

According to CIES Football Observatory, Dutch giants Ajax have had the greatest representation at the World Cup with 11 of their youth academy graduates featuring at the tournament, followed by Deportivo Saprissa from Costa Rica with 10 players and Al-Sadd from Qatar with nine. Despite this, no players from the latter two clubs were represented in the knockout stages of the competition.

The clubs with the greatest representation in the knockout rounds at Qatar 2022 were Ajax, Dinamo Zagreb from Croatia, and Sporting CP from Portugal with eight players each.

England is the nation with the most clubs represented in the Top 50 of the list with six of them producing players for the tournament – Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur.

Italian mistrust in youth continues

Although Italy failing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup affects these figures, it cannot be ignored that Serie A coaches are often reluctant to give youth a chance unless it is an absolute necessity.

For instance, Empoli forward and Inter youth team graduate Martin Satriano was in the preliminary squad for Uruguay before he failed to make the final. Meanwhile, Juventus winger Matias Soule has been selected for Argentina in the past despite not being a regular for the Bianconeri and he too did not make the final cut.

According to Transfermarkt, 166 of the players who play in the Campionato Primavera 1 are foreigners, accounting for 32% of the footballers that feature in those squads. If those youngsters from overseas aren’t good enough to make it into the seniors, the quality of those kids or the integration process from youth to professional football in Italy must be questioned.

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