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Coutinho leads the table for most expensive players on loan

Issue number 273 of Weekly Post presents the top 50 transfer values for players currently on loan in big-5 league teams. At the head of the table is Philippe Coutinho. However, the price for the Brazilian as estimated by the CIES Football Observatory algorithm (€96.5M) is lower than the option to buy negotiated between Bayern and Barcelona (€120M).

Four other players on loan have an estimated value greater than €50M: Dani Ceballos, Martin Ödegaard, Harry Wilson and Mauro Icardi. While there is in principle no option to buy for the three former players, Paris St-Germain can sign Mauro Icardi for €70M. This is currently a relatively high fee, but it could be no more the case if the Argentinean goes on playing and scoring as he managed to do in October.

With regard to Stefano Sensi and Duván Zapata, the levels of their options to buy are already significantly lower than the estimated values. Inter and Atalanta will probably not hesitate to exercise them. More information on the exclusive CIES Football Observatory approach to assess on a scientific basis the transfer value of professional footballers is available here.

Record high for expatriates, end of club-trained players decline?

The 49th Monthly Report of the CIES Football Observatory analyses the demographic characteristics of players from 31 European top division clubs. It notably reveals that the trend towards less stability and a greater international mobility has declined over the past year. While the level of expatriates has reached a new record (41.8%), the increase was less marked than in previous years: +0.2% as opposed to an average of +1.2% between 2014 and 2018.

For the first time since the first census in 2009, the percentage of club-trained players has grown. However, this increase was very limited (+0.2%). It is thus difficult to claim that the tendency towards fewer club-trained footballers has reversed. In the same vein, the halt in the decrease in the average length of stay of players in their club of employment does not necessarily imply a return towards more stability.

From next year onwards, it will be very interesting to monitor if the increasing economic disparities between teams from different countries will push a greater number of clubs with limited means to concentrate on the promotion of locally trained talents. This holds particularly true in Eastern Europe (Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, etc.) and Southern Europe (Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, etc.), where transfer market activity is particularly prevalent. Access the study!

Effective playing time: records per club and league

The effective playing time of a football match greatly varies according to league and club. According to the exclusive InStat data on 35 European competitions, during current season, the highest percentage of effective playing time was measured in the Swedish top division (on average 59.7% of minutes per match). At the opposite is the Czech league (50.2%). The data at both league and club level are available in the 272th edition of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post.

The findings reveal great discrepancies per continental area. The higher values recorded in Northern and Western Europe reflect more open styles of play and a greater player discipline. Among the five major European championships, the German Bundesliga (57.1%) has the highest effective playing time, while the Spanish Liga has the lowest (53.3%).

At club level, the record percentage of effective playing time was measured for the matches of the Swedish side GIF Sundvall (63.2%). AZ Alkmaar (62,9%) and Helsingborgs (62,8%) also are in the top three. At the other extreme are three Spanish teams: Alcorcón (45,8%), Getafe (45,9%) and Rayo Vallecano (46,2%). The highest values for big-5 league clubs were recorded for Bayern Munich (62.0%), Olympique Lyonnais (61.5%) and Paris St-Germain (60.7%).

Best training clubs: exclusive 2019 rankings

Which teams train the most professional footballers? As every year, the CIES Football Observatory has established the rankings of the best training clubs for players active in the big-5, as well as for footballers in 31 European top divisions. Real Madrid and Partizan Belgrade head the tables. The top 60s are available in issue number 271 of the Weekly Post.

For big-5 league players, Real Madrid (39 footballers trained, +3 compared to last year) outranks Barcelona (34, same number) and Olympique Lyonnais (30, -5). At the level of the 31 top divisions, Partizan Belgrade (75 players trained, +6 with respect to last year) outranks AFC Ajax (72, -5) and Sporting Clube Portugal (63, +5). The top 50s rankings for 2018 are available here.

Following UEFA definition, training clubs are teams where footballers played for at least three seasons between the ages of 15 and 21. The percentage of minutes played by club-trained footballers in all of the teams from the 31 competitions studied is available in the CIES Football Observatory Demographic Atlas. In addition, more exclusive data is regularly published through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Sancho and Rodrygo most experienced youngsters

The CIES Football Observatory research team has developed an exclusive approach to measure the experience capital of footballers according to their playing time and the level of matches played. Issue number 270 of the Weekly Post presents the 50 highest figures worldwide for players born in 2000, as well as the top 50 for footballers born in or after 2001.

For players born in 2000, the Englishman Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) outranks his countryman Ryan Sessegnon (Tottenham) and the Dutchman Kik Pierie (AFC Ajax). The second highest figure outside of the big-5 European leagues was measured for the Danish Mikkel Damsgaard (Nordsjaelland), while that for footballers playing outside of Europe was recorded for the Venezuelan Cristian Casséres (New York Red Bulls).

Rodrygo Goes (Real Madrid) heads the table for players born in or after 2001. The Brazilian prodigy ranks in the top 10 also by considering footballers born in 2000: 8th. The Paraguayan Fernando Cardozo (Boavista) is the second most experienced U19 player, while at third position is a 2002-born footballer: Adam Hložek (Sparta Praha). The youngest player in the lists is the 16-year-old midfielder Daniel Leyva (Seattle Sounders & Tacoma Defiance).

Monthly Report shows increase of loans in the big-5

The 48th Monthly Report of the CIES Football Observatory analyses the evolution of the number and characteristics of footballers having played on loan for teams of the five major European championships during the last decade. It shows that clubs from these leagues take more and more players on loan: from 2.62 per club and season between 2009 and 2014, up to 3.09 between 2014 and 2019 (+18%). In 2018/2019, footballers on loan played a record number of minutes in the big-5: 11.5%.

This evolution is notably explained by the tendency of wealthy teams (Manchester City, Chelsea, Juventus, etc.) to put under contract an increasing number of footballers with a sufficient sporting level to play in the major European leagues. This puts other clubs in a greater state of dependency when making up their squads, thus increasing their likelihood to take players on loan.

The study also shows that loans constitute in most of the cases a step towards a definitive departure. Indeed, only 29.6% of footballers lent to big-5 league clubs between 2009/10 and 2018/19 return to their owner team at the end of the loan period. In 27% of the occurrences, they were loaned again, while in the remaining 43.4% of cases they were transferred on a permanent basis to another team.

Regulation makes sense in avoiding the misuse of loan strategies orientated not towards a legitimate sporting logic to develop the potential of a young player on which the loaning team really counts, but rather towards an economic logic that aims to generate profits from the transfer market or a political logic aiming at exercising undue influence on rival clubs. In order to be effective, these measures should be implemented in parallel to the regulation of the questions of buy-back options (recompra) and the multi-ownership of clubs.

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