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FootballNewsREVEALED: Arsenal and Athletic Bilbao at extremes on foreign player use

REVEALED: Arsenal and Athletic Bilbao at extremes on foreign player use

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By Nick Harris

16 August 2010

Arsenal were the most extreme example of a “foreign staffed” football club in any of Europe’s five major leagues last season, with non-English players accounting for 93.3 per cent of minutes played by the Gunners.

This was among the headline findings in the fifth annual Review of the European Football Players’ Labour Market, which is produced by the Professional Football Players Observatory in Switzerland.

The review examines trends in England’s Premier League, Spain’s top division, Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s top division and France’s Ligue 1, analysing the make-up of squads, playing time, nationalities, ages and other factors.

Arsenal were the most “foreign” team in 2009-10 among the 98 clubs considered. Athletic Bilbao, who have a policy of signing only Basque players, were the least “foreign”: they were the only club in Europe’s elite not to field a single expatriate player all season.

The review says that Premier League “is by far the country where clubs import the most footballers: expatriates represent 59.8 per cent (+0.5%) of squads.”

The level of foreign players in Germany is also high (47.4 per cent), although this was down 2.8 per cent on the season before.

The average across Europe was 42.6 per cent, and the biggest increase was recorded in Italy, with 42.1 per cent of foreign players, up three percent. Jose Mourinho’s Internazionale were the second most foreign team after Arsenal, with 92.2 per cent of minutes played by foreigners.

The nation that provides most foreigners for the five leagues remains Brazil, with 139 Brazilians in the five leagues, but this was substantially down on the 163 from 2008-09. Players from Argentina are on the up, though, with 120 in 2009-10, an increase from 103 from the season before. France was the third greatest exporter, with 106 players in the four other major top divisions, up from 100 in 2008-09.

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