Former Premier League overseas stars Patrick Vieira and Ruud Gullit both believe English academies are failing to produce top home-grown talent.
The lack of quality coming through the ranks was raised as a concern by Football Association director of football development Sir Trevor Brooking this week.
He claimed the influx of foreign players to the English game was partly to blame for what he saw as a dwindling pool of talent, but two of the top flight's best imports believe the problems start much earlier than the first team.
Former Arsenal captain Vieira, now with Inter Milan, told www.feelfootball.com: 'There are not so many good young English players at many of the clubs and I really believe that the academies are not good enough for the young players between 12 and 15.
'Training for young players is important, but they (the academies) are not working properly to make young English players come through.'
Vieira singled out West Ham, Brooking's former team, as the only club whose academy has produced genuine quality English players consistently.
'When you look at the four big clubs in England, you find there are very few English players in the team,' the France international added.
'When you look at the English players from Chelsea, many of them have come from West Ham.
'They are doing a good job, they are the only club that I believe that has done a good job. What the other clubs should do is ask why all the players are coming from West Ham and not from other clubs.'
Former Chelsea player and manager Gullit believes the academies are a waste of money.
'Not many English youngsters are coming through. They spend fortunes on academies, but the bigger clubs don't use them because they can buy any star they want,' he said.
'There are too many average foreign players coming to England. You see too many average players where English players could do the same job, but I don't think they are as good.
'It is the same problem they had in Italy, and when the Italian national team doesn't play well, this issue becomes bigger.'