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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

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).

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.

The team which was able to generate the most income by transferring players to big-5 league teams was Southampton (120.7 million €). The English team outranked both Real Madrid (112 million €) and Chelsea (102.4 million €). The only non big-5 league club in the top 10 of the rankings was Porto (83.8 million €). However, a big part of the transfer income for the Portuguese team was in the end pocketed by third-parties who held shares in the economic rights of the specific players transferred.

Among the 46 teams that earned at least 15 million €, only seven are not part of big-5 leagues: Porto, Benfica, Ajax, Sporting Lisbon, Feyenoord, Dinamo Kiev and Salzburg.
More information is available in the 81st issue of the Big-5 Weekly Post.

This year’s predictions take into account the following areas: players’ status, squad cohesion and club ambition. The indicator of players’ status considers minutes played by squad members during the previous season, as well as overall results achieved by their employer club. Squad cohesion refers to the percentage of domestic league minutes played in 2013/14 by footballers who are still at the club, as well as the average number of seasons played by current squad members at the employer team. Finally, club ambition includes the average length of contract duration of first team players, as well as the ratio between the status of new signings and that of footballers released by the club during the last transfer window.

Analysis of the above criteria by the CIES Football Observatory academic team indicates that Chelsea, Barcelona, Paris St-Germain, Bayern Munich and Rome are in the most favourable position to win the title in their respective leagues. Our data also suggests that the runners-up will be Manchester City, Real Madrid, LOSC Lille, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus. Among promoted teams, Leicester City, Burnley, Deportivo La Coruña, Metz and Cologne are well placed to achieve good results. In contrast to this, the following clubs are forecast to struggle in achieving satisfactory results: Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Almería, Nice, Eintracht Frankfurt and Chievo Verona.

Enjoy the season and may the best teams win!

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