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Impact of first goal: Red Star Belgrade at the top

Between January 2015 and December 2019, Red Star Belgrade won 130 domestic league matches out of the 135 during which they scored the first goal: 96.3%. This is the highest value measured among clubs from 92 top divisions worldwide ahead of Sherif Tiraspol from Moldova (94.1%) and Albirex Niigata Singapore (93.3%). The full analysis is available in the 293rd CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post.

The highest percentages of wins in case of first goal for current big-5 league teams over the five years studied were recorded for Paris St-Germain (89.9%, 124 wins out of 138), Barcelona (88.5%, 116 out of 131) and Manchester City (87.1%, 115 out of 132). Per league, the lowest value were recorded for Toulouse, Augsburg, Udinese, Eibar and Southampton. The lowest percentage overall was recorded for the Australian side Central Coast Mariners (20 wins out of 53, 38%).

At league level, the values range from four fifth of wins for the team having scored the first goal in the Moldavian top division to only about two thirds in the Chilean one. The average for the 92 competitions analysed is just below 70%. At the level of the big-5, the percentages go from 71.1% in the English Premier League to 67.8% in the German Bundesliga. The lowest values in Europe were recorded for the Belgian and Norwegian top divisions (66.3% in both cases).

Player export: Brazil leads the table

Issue number 292 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post ranks countries worldwide according to the number of their representatives having played professional football abroad during the calendar year 2019. Brazil is at the top of the table (1,600 players, of which 74.6% active in top division leagues) ahead of France (1,027, 74.0%) and Argentina (972, 75.5%).

In total, 186 national associations had at least one player expatriated in the 141 leagues from 93 countries included in the sample. However, altogether, Brazil, France and Argentina provided up to almost one quarter of the total foreign workforce in global football (22.5%). Nigeria is the main African exporting nation (399 players abroad), while Japan is the principal Asian one (161).

The CIES Football Observatory Atlas of Migration presents the main destinations for each origin. This exclusive tool notably reveals that Portugal is by far the main destination for Brazilians, ahead of Italy and Japan. The three main destinations for the French expatriates are England, Belgium and Luxembourg, while those of the Argentineans are Chile, Mexico and Spain.

Best stepping-stone clubs: Ajax ahead of Benfica

The 291st Weekly Post of the CIES Football Observatory highlights the main clubs from where current big-5 league players departed to reach the five major European leagues. At the top of the stepping-stone club rankings are three regular European Cup participants: AFC Ajax (22 players currently in the big-5 were recruited there), SL Benfica (21) and RB Salzburg (20).

In the top 15 positions also are three Belgian teams (KRC Genk, RSC Anderlecht and Club Brugge KV), two further Portuguese clubs (Sporting Clube de Portugal and FC Porto), an additional Dutch one (PSV Eindhoven), as well Swiss (FC Basel), Croatian (Dinamo Zagreb) and Danish (FC København) sides. The B-teams of Real Madrid (4th) and FC Barcelona (11th) also figure high in the rankings. The first non-European team is Boca Juniors (15th).

The 54th edition of the CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report broadens the analysis by revealing that recruitment from a non-big-5 league team is the most common way of entering the five major European leagues (48%), followed by advancement from the youth academy or the B-team of a big-5 league club (39%, up to 50% for players who made their debut in the Spanish Liga) and the promotion from a second division of the club of belonging (13%).

Squad turnover: South America king of change

The 290th edition of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post ranks clubs from 87 top divisions worldwide according to the number of players fielded in domestic league matches since January 2015. The highest value was recorded for the Colombian side of Deportivo Pasto (176 different players), while the lowest one was measured for Shanghai SIPG in China (44 players).

South American clubs are over-represented among those with the highest squad turnover: 7 in the top 10 positions and 14 in the top 20. Conversely, many top-flight European teams are among those who fielded the least different players in domestic league matches since January 2015, such as Manchester City (52), Real Madrid (54) and Bayern Munich (59).

Generally speaking, the richest leagues are not those where clubs change the most players. The average number of players fielded per club and season varies between 38.7 in the Paraguayan top division and 22.1 in the San Marino one. The highest values in Europe were recorded in Romania (30.5 players per club and season) and Croatia (30.2).

Pandemic: 28% loss on players’ transfer value

The coronavirus pandemic is heavily impacting the football industry. Issue number 289 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post presents the gaps in the players’ estimated transfer value in the event that no matches will be played and no contract will be extended until the end of June. As such, the total player transfer value at big-5 league level would decrease by 28%: from €32.7 to €23.4 billion.

The extent of the decrease varies according to several factors such as the players’ age, contract duration, career path and recent performance. The greatest loss in relative terms concerns ageing footballers with short-term contracts who played fewer matches during current season than in the previous one. As matter of example, Paul Pogba’s estimated transfer value would almost halve from €65M to €35M.

The greatest potential percentage loss per club was measured for Olympique de Marseille: -38%. Conversely, the lowest one was recorded for another French Ligue 1 team: Stade Brestois (-16%). The values presented have been calculated on the basis of the exclusive CIES Football algorithm. The transfer value ranges for big-5 league footballers before the league shutdown are available here.

Most expensive youngsters: Sancho and Håland at the top

Two Borussia Dortmund players head the rankings of big-5 league footballers born in or after 2000 with the highest transfer values according to the CIES Football Observatory algorithm: Jadon Sancho and Erling Håland. The Englishman is valued at almost €200 M and the Norwegian at €101 M. While the value of Sancho probably reached its peak, that of Håland is destined to grow. The top 50 list is available for free in issue number 288 of the Weekly Post.

The Real Madrid’s attacking duo Rodrygo and Vinícius have the third and fourth highest estimated values: €89 M and €74 M respectively. Both Brazilians also have a high potential for progression. With four nationals, England is the most represented origin in the top 10: Jadon Sancho, Callum Hudson-Odoi (5th, €72 M), Mason Greenwood (8th, €50 M) and Phil Foden (9th, also €50 M).

With an estimated value of €53 M, the French midfielder Eduardo Camavinga (Stade Rennais) is the youngest player in the top 10. Another footballer born in 2002, Ansu Fati (FC Barcelona) is worth more than €40 M. The value ranges for all big-5 league footballers is freely available here. The 53rd Monthly Report presents the variables and approach developed by the CIES Football Observatory research team to assess the transfer value of footballers on a scientific basis.

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