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Wed. 29 October 2014

Barcelona top the charts for producing the most big-5 league players

Barcelona heads the rankings of clubs that have trained the most footballers currently playing for big-5 league teams (43). The Spanish side outranks Manchester United (36) and Real Madrid (34). The full table is available in the 86th edition of the CIES Football Observatory Big-5 Weekly Post.

Out of the 43 big-5 league footballers trained at Barcelona, 13 are still playing for the Catalan club. Only Olympique Lyonnais, Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad have a greater number of club-trained players in their current squad. To be able to rely on homegrown talent in this way has provided a key competitive advantage for Barcelona over the last decade. Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramírez are the latest examples of this strategy.

Barcelona is also at the top of the table of clubs having trained the most footballers playing for other big-5 league teams (30), ahead of Real Madrid (26) and Manchester United (24). This finding not only highlights the quality of training provided by these top teams, but also demonstrates the difficulty for youth academy players to breakthrough into the first team squad of the most competitive club. This is unlikely to change in the near future, irrespective of the legal framework in force.

River Plate heads the ranking for clubs not participating in the big-5 leagues. The Argentinean team has trained 17 players currently employed by teams in the five major European championships, which is two more than Le Havre, Ajax and Munich 1860.

Issue 86 of the CIES Football Observatory Big-5 Weekly Post also shows that the percentage of club-trained players went down for the fourth consecutive season and has now reached a new record low: 17.2% of squad members. This percentage varies between 24.6% in France and 9.6% in Italy. To be considered club-trained, a player must have played for at least three seasons between the ages of 15 and 21 for his employer club (UEFA criterion).

More information is available on request at football.observatory(at)