Fully acquainted with FC Schalke 04's revered academy having previously been the club's Under-17 coach, senior team boss Jens Keller is delighted with the impact of the UEFA Youth League.
Schalke's Youth League side mirrored exactly the achievements of Keller's UEFA Champions League charges, accumulating ten points to finish second behind Chelsea FC in Group E. It is the latest flourish from a healthy youth set-up which has helped to nurture the likes of Manuel Neuer, Julian Draxler and Mesut Özil in recent years. Keller views tournament football as key to the youngsters' development towards the first team.
"It's a great experience," he said. "It's a great experience to compete with big clubs from all over Europe, but you also have to be careful because it's a lot of stress for the youngsters. They travel away for three days for away matches and most of the young lads still go to school. So that is why it's a lot of stress for them, but in terms of footballing experience it's fantastic for them.
"That is very important at Schalke, especially if you see how many young players have made it into the first team in recent years. So it is very important to communicate well with the coaches of the youth categories as they are in the best position to assess the players."
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