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Mon. 20 January 2014

Brand new Demographic Study highlights the decrease of club-trained players in European clubs

The CIES Football Observatory is happy to disclose the 6th edition of its annual Demographic Study on 31 top division leagues of UEFA member associations, 472 clubs and 11,653 players. The 96-page publication is divided in five chapters: club records, league comparison, league profile, international migration and youth talents. A free excerpt is available on the CIES Football Observatory website.

The Study shows that professional European football is still confronted with processes that do not necessarily augur well for its future. The cloud of economic stakes that hangs over sporting logics is flagrant in many clubs and countries. In general, the number of transfers carried out by teams during the current season is at an all-time high. A trend that is difficult to understand given the actual climate with its numerous financial difficulties.

The increasing speculation surrounding players’ transfers is also visible through the progressive drop in the number of club-trained players, which has attained its lowest level since 2009. Conversely, the percentage of expatriate players has risen for the second consecutive year. Here too, the figure has never been so high.

Key figures

  • Despite the regulations introduced in many countries and at UEFA club competition level, the relative presence of footballers playing for the club where they were trained reached a new record low: 21.2%.
  • The percentage of expatriate players reached a new record high this season: 36.8%. The proportion of footballers who have already experienced international migration during their career was also never as high as for current season: 49.3%.
  • The English Premier League has the second highest percentage of expatriate footballers (60.4%), just after Cyprus. Expatriates represent a majority of squads also in Italy, Turkey, Portugal and Belgium. The greatest proportion was measured at Inter Milan (89%).
  • While Brazil remains the most represented foreign origin, the number of Brazilians decreased by 67 since 2009: from 538 to 471. France is the second nation with the highest number of expatriates in top division European leagues: from 247 to 306 (+59) during the last five seasons.
  • A new record high was also registered with regard to the number of new signings. On average, players recruited from January 2013 onwards represent 41.3% of squads (10.2 signings per club).
  • Transfer activity is much higher in Southern and Eastern Europe than in the northern part of the continent. Cyprus tops the ranking of the highest number of squad members signed after January 2013 (on average 14.1 per club). This figure is only 5.3 in Sweden.
  • Italy and England top the table for the largest squads (26.8 players per club on average). Italian Serie A also gathers the most seasoned footballers (27.3 years) and the least percentage of club-trained players (8.4%).
  • The tallest league is German Bundesliga (183.8cm), while the shortest is Spanish Liga (180.1cm). Barcelona has the second shortest squad (177.4cm) among the 472 clubs surveyed. Only Bnei Sakhnin (Israel) is composed of shorter players than the Catalan side.
  • The highest percentage of players with national A-team caps in 2013 was recorded in England (44.3%). At club level, the greatest proportion of active internationals was registered at Chelsea (80%). The London club outranks Manchester City and Fenerbahçe.
  • Barcelona has the most stable squad among European top division teams. Players in the Catalan club have been on average for 5.5 years in the first team squad. The average stay is above 5 years in only one other club: Manchester United.
  • Finally, the CIES Football Observatory study confirms the excellent work undertaken by Ajax in the area of youth training. The Dutch side tops the table of clubs having trained the most players under contract with top division teams in Europe. With 69 representatives, Ajax outranks Partizan Belgrade, Barcelona, Hajduk Split and Sporting Lisbon.

To download an excerpt of the Study, please click here

To buy the publication, click here

For more information and to ask for educational discount, please write to [email protected].

About the CIES Football Observatory

The CIES Football Observatory is a unique project initiated in 2005 by Drs Raffaele Poli and Loïc Ravenel under the name of the Professional Football Players Observatory (PFPO). Since 2011 it is one of the cornerstones of the broader CIES Sports Observatory project, dedicated to the statistical analysis of sport in all its diversity.

Two annual reports are published for football. In January, the Demographic Study presents an in-depth analysis of club composition and player characteristics in 31 top division leagues of UEFA member countries. In June, the Annual Review analyses clubs and players in the big-5 European leagues from a demographic, economic and pitch performance perspective.

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