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The 85th edition of the CIES Football Observatory Big-5 Weekly Post presents the data on the oldest and youngest line-ups. During the last match day, only Valencia played with footballers on average younger than Manchester United: 24.4 years compared to 24.6. This finding clearly reflects Manchester United’s strategy of squad rejuvenation for future success.

At the opposite end of the table, Manchester City fielded the third oldest line-up at big-5 league level: 29.3 years (highest figure in the English Premier League). This suggests that fresh blood is needed to maintain top level performance standards over the long term. Only Verona (31.0) and Torino (30.3) fielded more seasoned players than Manchester City.

Since 2008/09, the youngest line-up in the big-5 was fielded by Nice: 22.1 years on average against Evian on 10.05.2014. Conversely, the team having fielded the oldest line-up is Milan AC: 33.3 years against Catania on 03.05.2009.

The CIES Football Observatory is pleased to present innovative statistics on the average number of points achieved by clubs and footballers by minute played. This brand new indicator is calculated on the basis of the score in matches at the end of every minute of the game. Only footballers who have played at least 50% of championship minutes are included in this analysis. All the rankings are available in the 84th edition of our Big-5 Weekly Post.

Since the beginning of the English Premier League season, Manchester United achieved the third highest score in points achieved by minute played, ahead of Manchester City (5th). This suggests that Louis van Gaal’s team should be able to further improve its results in the near future. The gap measured with respect to Chelsea is indeed not as significant as at the end of the matches played so far (-0.42 compared to -1.14). Conversely, Arsenal is ranked only 16th.

At individual player level, in the English Premier League Marcos Rojo (Manchester United) has achieved the most points by minute played: 2.39 on average. The lowest figure among footballers who have played at least half of total match minutes was recorder for Niko Kranjčar (QPR, 0.31).

Players with the most impressive statistics in the remaining big-5 European leagues are Pablo Piatti (Valencia), Dimitri Payet (Marseille), Arjen Robben (Bayern) and Angelo Ogbonna (Juventus). In contrast, the least successful players so far this season besides Niko Kranjčar are Xabi Prieto (Real Sociedad), Mathieu Peybernes (Bastia), Julian Draxler (Schalke 04) and Daniele Conti (Cagliari).

The minute by minute rankings will be updated after each championship round. They will be available throughout the season here.

Chelsea’s Cesc Fàbregas is at the top of the CIES Football Observatory table of the best performing attacking midfielders since the start of the season. The Spanish player was 25% more productive than the second best big-5 league offensive midfielder, the biggest gap among the five field positions considered. Data for the 15 best players per position is presented in the 83th issue of the Big-5 Weekly Post.

The best performing players in the other positions are Giorgio Chiellini (centre back), Jordi Alba (full back), Xabi Alonso (central/defensive midfielder) and André-Pierre Gignac (forward). Only footballers who played at least 60% of championship minutes are included in the analysis.

Many footballers who did not yet represent a national A-team are to be found in the top 15 positions of the rankings: Robin Knoche (Wolfsburg), José Fonte (Southampton), Antonio Balzano (Cagliari), Layvin Kurzawa (Monaco), Juan Bernat (Bayern Munich), Roberto Pereyra (Juventus), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Manuel Nolito (Celta Vigo) and Wissam Ben Yedder (Toulouse). All these footballers deserve a chance to play for their country of origin.

Players are ranked according to their production and efficiency in six areas of the game (see below). The six key performance skills taken into account are weighted differently per position according to their impact on club results. Consequently, for example, rigour is more important for centre backs than for forwards. For more comparability, the rankings also consider the differences in the intensity and style of play between leagues.

CIES Football Observatory key performance skills

  • Shooting: ability to take advantage of goal opportunities through accurate shooting
  • Chance creation: ability to put teammates in good position to score
  • Take on: ability to create dangerous situations by successfully challenging opponents
  • Distribution: ability to hold the grip on the game through efficient passing
  • Recovery: ability to minimise goal opportunities for opponents through proficient ball recovery
  • Rigour: ability to minimise goal opportunities for opponents by efficiently blocking their actions

The transfer expenditure of big-5 league clubs has never been as high as that seen during the 2014 summer transfer window. The total expenditure this year was €2.4 billion which was €200 million more than the figure recorded in the previous year, as shown in issue 82 of the Big-5 Weekly Post of the CIES Football Observatory.

A new record high was also measured with regard to the percentage of transfer fees invested with 49% of the ten most active clubs now involved in this activity. In addition, the level of transfer fee compensation paid by clubs in the most active league – the English Premier League - reached a new peak of 45% of total transfer expenditure.

All of these findings show the increasing concentration of fee paying transfer activity at the very top of the football pyramid. At the same time, and as shown in issue 81 of the Big-5 Weekly Post, an increasing proportion of fees invested do also benefit other big-5 league clubs (72% during the last transfer window compared to 67% for the five previous years). These figures highlight the ongoing transformation of the transfer market into a zero-sum game involving a closed circle of top level teams and with significant amounts of money made by dominant intermediaries and/or third-parties.

The club that invested the most on the transfer market since 2008 was Real Madrid €750 million, closely followed by Manchester City (€733 million).

The CIES Football Observatory is pleased to announce that our online database on the characteristics of big-5 league players and teams has been fully updated to now include the previous five completed seasons. Full access is available here.

Data refers to the indicators of average age, average height, % of club-trained players, % of internationals, % of expatriates and average stay. Moreover, a mapping tool allows you to analyse the origin of expatriate players.

More detailed data relating to club level analysis is presented in our annual publications: Annual Review (big-5 leagues) and Demographic Study (31 top division leagues in Europe).

We also kindly remind you that an online tool to assess the transfer value of big-5 league players is available here.

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