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The first Monthly Report of the 2015/16 seasons allows football observers and professionals to gain a better understanding of the key factors to be considered in building a winning team over the long term.

Since 2005, the Football Observatory research group within the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) has developed pioneering data analysis to understand the logics of success in football. This report unveils the key findings related to the four main dimensions of sustainable squad management: team chemistry, demographic structure, performance analysis and transfer policy.

Professional clubs, football academies and leagues regularly take advantage of the exclusive expertise gathered within the CIES Football Observatory to increase their competitiveness. The innovative research work carried out also has an educational vocation by helping football stakeholders, including media and fans, to develop original thinking on the beautiful game.

Furthermore, the CIES Football Observatory academic team is pleased to disclose its player performance rankings for the five major European championships. The top 15 list per position and league will be updated on a weekly basis throughout the season. To know more about the methodology used, see Monthly Report number 5.

The CIES Football Observatory is happy to announce the update of its exclusive database on the demographic features of big-5 league players. This interactive tool now includes data from 2010/11 up until the 2014/15 season. It allows users to compare the five major European championships in terms of age, height, club-trained players, full internationals, expatriates and squad stability.

During last season, the percentage of minutes played by club-trained footballers reached a new record low: 14.3%. In the English Premier League, players who spent at least three years between the ages of 15 and 21 in their employer club never played a fewer percentage of minutes than in 2014/15: 10.2%. The minimal level of minutes played by club-trained footballers was recorded in Italy: 8.5%.

The percentage of minutes played by expatriates is stable at around 46%. However, the percentage of players who grew up in a different country than that of their employer club reached a new record high among the five best ranked teams per league: 59.6%. This percentage was never as high as in 2014/15 in three leagues out of five: England (77.1%), Spain (57.1%) and Germany (53.1%). It is also very high in the Italian Serie A: 71.4%.

With the opening of a new transfer window, the CIES Football Observatory is pleased to disclose its exclusive top-100 ranking of the highest transfer values for big-5 league footballers. At the head of the table is Lionel Messi with an estimated value between 255 and 281 million €. For the first time, Eden Hazard ranks second. The Belgian is ahead of Christian Ronaldo. At club level, Champions League winner Barcelona outranks Chelsea and Real Madrid.

The CIES Football Observatory is also proud to be able to present for the first time the probabilities of fee paying transfers for big-5 league players. This was a major achievement of the research work carried out by our academic team during the last year. Many expensive footballers are to be found in the top-100 of this ranking, such as Raheem Sterling, Alexis Sánchez, Antoine Griezmann, Harry Kane and Philippe Coutinho

More information is available in issue number 115 of the Big-5 Weekly Post (the last before the summer break). The full data is presented in the sixth edition of the CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report. This publication also explains the unique methodology developed by our research team to estimate both transfer values and transfer probabilities of football players.

Issue number 114 of the Big-5 Weekly Post presents the assessment of the CIES Football Observatory predictions for the five major European leagues. The analysis of the demographic structure of teams allowed our research team to forecast four out of five champions. The only exception is AS Rome (2nd position behind Juventus). The average gap between rank estimated and achieved varies between 1.9 in the most predictable league – Spanish Liga – to 3.5 in the least predictable championship – French Ligue 1.

The clubs having achieved the best ranking with respect to that expected looking at the demographic structure of their squads are Swansea and Crystal Palace (+8 positions) in England, Eintracht Frankfurt (+8) in Germany, Montpellier and Nice (+7) in France, Genoa (+7) in Italy, as well as Elche and Rayo Vallecano (+4) in Spain.

Conversely, the most under-achieving clubs are Parma (-10) in Italy, Toulouse (-10) in France, Hertha Berlin (-7) in Germany, Everton, Burnley and Leicester (-5) in England, as well as Real Sociedad, Levante and Granada (-4) in Spain.

Footballers under 21 years of age played only 5.3% of English Premier League minutes this season. This is the lowest figure measured at big-5 league level. At the opposite end of the table is the French Ligue 1: 12.1%.

The clubs per league having the most relied on U21 players are Monaco (34.6%), Valencia (25.5%), Empoli (23.3%), Bayer Leverkusen (23.1%) and Liverpool (19.8%). Conversely, U21 footballers played less than 2% of minutes in 27 teams out of 98, including at Champions League finalists Barcelona and Juventus.

All the data is available in issue number 113 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post.

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