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Premier League clubs have fielded players with national A-team caps for 75.8% of minutes since the start of the season. Burnley is the only club where full internationals played a minority of domestic league minutes. The data for all clubs is presented in issue number 104 of the CIES Football Observatory Big-5 Weekly Post.

At big-5 league level, the highest percentage of minutes played by full internationals was recorded at Milan: 99.4%. However, in many cases, Milan’s full international players are ageing. The percentage of minutes by full international footballers is over 90% in 13 clubs. Conversely, this figure is below 10% for two clubs only: Eibar (7.0%) and Paderborn (4.4%).

% of minutes by full internationals, per team

  • Milan : 99.4%
  • Chelsea : 98.2%
  • Borussia Dortmund : 98.1%
  • Bayern Munich : 96.2%
  • Juventus : 95.8%
  • Real Madrid: 95.5%
  • Paris St-Germain: 95.3%
  • Rome: 95.1%
  • Manchester City: 93.8%
  • Barcelona: 93.6%
  • Everton: 92.3%
  • Liverpool: 91.1%
  • Manchester United: 90.1%

At league level, the percentage of minutes played by full internationals varies between 75.8% for the English Premier League and 38.0% for the Spanish Liga. Overall, players with national A-team caps played 55.1% of domestic league minutes.

The third Monthly Report of the CIES Football Observatory analyses the evolution of transfer fees paid by big-5 league clubs from the 2009/10 season up until the present. It shows that ever-increasing amounts of money are at stake. In parallel, a process of concentration of expenditure at the top of the pyramid is taking place. This reinforces the domination of the wealthiest clubs. A reform is proposed to improve the redistributive factor in the transfer system.

The evolution noted for the five major European leagues since 2009/10 reflects a strong increase in the sums invested in transfer fees. While the 98 big-5 league teams spent €6.9 billion to recruit players present in their squad in 2009/10 (€70.4 million per club), this figure increased to €8.6 billion in 2014/15 (€87.7 million per club). In six seasons, the average “cost” of a squad from a transfer expenditure perspective increased by 24.5%.

Between 2009 and 2014, the fees invested in signing squad members increased particularly in the English Premier League: €2.43 to €3.43 billion (€171 million per club). The amount spent by Premier League clubs in comparison with the total for the big-5 leagues went from 35% in 2009/10 to 40% in 2014/15. The explosion of revenues from the sale of TV-rights for the period 2016-2019 will undoubtedly reinforce this process.

The minimum threshold of investments in transfer fees above which it is reasonable to expect a podium finish has strongly increased. At big-5 level, the clubs having ranked in the top three places in the 2009/10 season spent on average €189 million in signing squad members. This figure has never been as high as in the current season: €278 million (+47%). Issue number 103 of the CIES Football Observatory Big-Weekly Post also presents the data by position.

The analysis of the recipients of sums invested by big-5 league clubs in signing squad members shows that the redistributive power of the transfer market is limited. Between 2009/10 and 2014/15, 67% of transfer fees were paid out to other teams participating in the five major European championships. A record figure was incidentally measured for the last two transfer windows: 70.5%.

With a view to equality and a wish to improve competitive balance, it would be therefore useful to consider what reforms are necessary to the transfer system so as to promote solidarity. An efficient measure would be to entitle each team in which a player has passed through to a compensation for each fee paying transfer taking place over the course of the player’s professional career on a pro rata basis to the number of official matches played at the club.

We kindly invite you to read the Report to know more about this proposal.

Since July 2012, current big-5 league clubs have generated 1.07 billion € for the transfer of players from their youth academies. At the top of the table is Southampton (90 million €), ahead of LOSC Lille and Real Sociedad. The full tables are available in issue number 102 of the CIES Football Observatory Big-5 Weekly Post.

At league level, current French Ligue 1 clubs generated the most transfer fees for youth academy players (292 million €). At the bottom end of the table is Italian Serie A. This finding reflects the low level of club-trained players in Italian top division clubs (see here).

Fees received by Southampton for the transfer of Adam Lallana, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers represent almost 40% of the total incomes of current Premier League clubs for the transfer of club-trained footballers.

Southampton is an outstanding example of how youth training can constitute a key competitive advantage both sportingly and economically.

Issue number 101 of the CIES Football Observatory Big-5 Weekly Post presents the rankings of the best performing players among new signings per area of the game. Luis Suárez (Barcelona) tops the table for chance creation ahead of Francesc Fàbregas (Chelsea) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (Swansea).

At the head of the other rankings are Dejan Lovren (Liverpool) for rigour, Walter Gargano (Napoli) for recovery, Xabi Alonso (Bayern Munich) for distribution, Karim Bellarabi (Bayer Leverkusen) for take on and Diego Costa (Chelsea) for shooting.

The following big-5 league rookies are to be found in the top 12 positions for five out of the six areas of play taken into account:

Rigour

  • Michael Keane (Burnley)
  • Sergi Gómez (Celta de Vigo)
  • Emiliano Velázquez (Getafe)
  • Jin-Su Kim (Hoffenheim)
  • Nicolás Otamendi (Valencia)
  • Giancarlo González (Palermo)
  • Marcos Rojo (Manchester United)

Recovery

  • Wendell Nascimento (Bayer Leverkusen)
  • Yeltsin Tejeda (Evian)
  • Daley Blind (Manchester United)

Take on

  • Sadio Mané (Southampton)
  • Lucas Vázquez (Espanyol)

Chance creation

  • Valentin Stocker (Hertha Berlin)
  • Dušan Tadić (Southampton)

Shooting

  • Luciano Vietto (Villarreal)
  • Federico Piovaccari (Eibar)
  • Diafra Sakho (West Ham)

Please refer to this paper if you want to know more about the exclusive approach of the CIES Football Observatory for sustainable success.

Issue number 100 of the CIES Football Observatory Big-5 Weekly Post presents the map of the 100 clubs that have trained the most footballers playing in 31 European top division leagues. The notion of training clubs refers to teams where players have been for at least three seasons between the ages of 15 and 21.

At the head of the table is Ajax Amsterdam. The Dutch team has trained 77 players employed by the 468 teams of the 31 leagues included in the analysis. At second and third place are Partizan Belgrade (74 players) and Barcelona (57). This data confirms the outstanding know-how of these clubs in the training of youth players.

France is the most represented national association in the top 100 positions of the table: 15 clubs. This is seven more than the second and third most represented countries: Spain and the Netherlands. Conversely, there are no Turkish, Cypriot, Romanian and Norwegian teams in the top 100.

If you want to know more about the European football players’ labour market, you are kindly invited to consult our online Digital Atlas. Thank you for your interest!

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