Great Study by the University of Groningen on elite youth players in the Dutch Academy System as reported in Science of Soccer Online
The investigators found that the knowledge of the game did not differ between the players who reached the professional level and those who did not. However, those players who scored highest in the area of “positioning and deciding” as a youth player were almost seven times more likely to reach the professional level that those who scored lowest. This was especially true for the midfielders. Even though all of the players had more than 10 years of training and were some of the most talented players in the Netherlands, half of them did not reach the professional level. What separated the professional from the amateurs was the ability to make correct decisions and position themselves correctly on the field.