By Nick Harris
SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year
23 January 2012
The 20 clubs in England’s Premier League are using more ‘club-trained’ players in the 2011-12 season than their counterparts in the top division of Germany’s Bundesliga, a new study shows.
Given that the Premier League is sometimes criticised as a cash-rich league where imports are bought at will by billionaire owners, and that the Bundesliga is often held up as a model of player production, this finding is counter-intuitive to say the least.
Yet it is backed by hard data, compiled for a demographic study of Europe’s top divisions by the CIES Football Observatory in Switzerland. The study makes detailed analysis of 12,410 footballers at 500 clubs in the top divisions of 33 European countries.
A ‘club-trained player’ is defined as someone who has spent at least three seasons being ‘developed’ by a club between the ages of 15 and 21. The study considers how many such players remain at the clubs who developed them, or in other words, the extent of successful youth development by club / league.
Across Europe, the leading 500 clubs have an average of 22.2 per cent of club-trained players. In the Premier League it is 16.2 per cent and in Germany’s top division 16 per cent.
NB: A club-trained player is not necessarily and certainly not always of the same nationality of his club, but typically across Europe, most club-trained players at most clubs will be.
Italy’s Serie A has a shockingly low level of club-trained players: 7.4 per cent, the lowest in all of Europe.
The following figures show the situation in Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues, detailing the leading clubs by club-trained players in each of those nations:
SPAIN 24.7 per cent of club-trained players in La Liga. BEST CLUBS: Real Sociedad 62.5 per cent, Athletic Bilbao 54.2 per cent, Santander 44 per cent, Barcelona 42.9 per cent, Mallorca 37.5 per cent. Worst club: Getafe (Zero per cent).
FRANCE 22.9 per cent. BEST CLUBS: Sochaux 47.8 per cent, Montpellier 42.3 per cent, Stade Rennais 41.7 per cent, Toulousse 41.7 per cent, Bordeaux 40 per cent. Worst club: Dijon (Zero per cent).
EUROPEAN AVERAGE across 500 clubs in top divisions in 33 nations: 22.2 per cent.
ENGLAND 16.2 per cent. BEST CLUBS: Arsenal 38.7 per cent, Manchester United 37.9 per cent, Aston Villa 34.6 per cent, Liverpool 29.6 per cent, Newcastle 26.9 per cent. Worst club: Wigan (Zero per cent).
GERMANY 16 per cent. BEST CLUBS: Schalke 33.3 per cent, Bayern Munich 29.2 per cent, Bayer Leverkusen 24 per cent, FC Cologne 23.1 per cent, Werder Bremen 22.2 per cent. Worst club: Hannover 96 (4.6 per cent).
ITALY 7.4 per cent. BEST CLUBS: Atalanta 23.1 per cent, Roma 22.2 per cent, Fiorentina 17.9 per cent, Lecce 15.4 per cent, Juventus 13.8 per cent. (NB: Seven of 20 clubs have zero club-trained players). Worst clubs: Seven different clubs from 20 (Zero per cent).
An extract from the new study can be downloaded from the CIES website; the report is wide-ranging and includes detailed nation-by-nation analysis.
A random selection of the study’s other findings:
League with highest % of club-trained players in Europe: Iceland (43.4 per cent).
League with lowest % of club-trained players in Europe: Italy (7.4 per cent).
Oldest team in Europe: Milan, 30 years. Youngest: UC Dublin 20.94 years.
Oldest league in Europe: Cyprus, 28.23 years. Youngest: Slovenia: 23.65 years.
Tallest team in Europe: FC Volyn Lutsk, 187.26cm. Shortest: Barcelona: 177.48cm.
Tallest league in Europe: Germany, 183.25cm. Shortest: Israel 180cm.
League with highest % of active internationals: English Premier League (41.2 per cent).
League with lowest % of active internationals: Republic of Ireland (0 per cent).
Club with highest % of active internationals: Barcelona (81 per cent).
League with highest % of expatriates: Cyprus (70.3 per cent).
League with lowest % of expatriates: Slovenia (13.8 per cent).
Club with highest % of expatriates: Celtic (84 per cent).
Countries providing most expatriates (foreigners) across the top divisions in 33 biggest European leagues
1 Brazil 528 players (-39 from last year)
2 France 247 (-9)
3 Serbia 228 (+16)
4 Argentina 211 (-23)
5 Portugal 132 (+10)
6 Czech Republic 125 (+18)
7 Germany 117 (+17)
8= Spain 116 (+17)
8= Nigeria 116 (+1)
10 The Netherlands 101 (+11)