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AVB: Saints' youth policy like Barca

Tottenham manager has likened Southampton's youth policy to Barcelona's La Masia academy, claiming they nurture talent in the same way.

• Rann: Back with a bounce

The Saints have produced the likes of Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gareth Bale and Adam Lallana in recent years while defender Luke Shaw – who has emerged this season – is tipped for big things in the future.

And their work has not gone unnoticed, as evidenced by Villas-Boas bracketing them with some of the top clubs in Europe when it comes to the development of footballers.

The Portuguese said: "Sometimes there are clubs that keep developing and nurturing players, then there are clubs that go for scouting.

"In Portugal, Sporting Lisbon is the development club and great players have come out of that school. They haven't produced the results in the first team as they wanted in the modern era. Porto invest in a later stage and don't develop the player.

"Southampton falls into the same category as Sporting Lisbon, like Barcelona, which is to nurture. But it is a great school of development - a bit like West Ham."

Villas-Boas has begun to enjoy the dividends of Tottenham's youth policy with Steven Caulker, Andros Townsend and Tom Carroll all making an impact on the first-team this season. And the Portuguese envisages a situation where more players will follow in the years to come.

"Tottenham has a great school with great young players,"Villas-Boas said. "The biggest jump for a young player is from the development team into the first team, and that gap they can try to bridge with the Under-21 league.

"But it's the first year and it needs time to get established. In the end I think it will allow players to get into the first team a little more often."

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