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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.

Ball possession: record figures in 35 European leagues

The partnership with the football data company InStat allows the CIES Football Observatory to present exclusive analysis on the technical performance of teams from 35 European competitions. Issue number 269 of the Weekly Post highlights domestic league matches during which a team had the highest percentage of ball possession (calculated out of effective playing time). The record figure for current season was measured for Fulham against Millwall on the 21st August: 78.7%.

The loss with the highest possession was recorded for Tottenham against Newcastle: 74.8% on the 25th August (0-1). Apart from Fulham and Tottenham, Shakhtar Donetsk (in two away matches), Paris St-Germain, Celtic FC, Borussia Dortmund, Ludogorets Razgrad, FK Partizan (also in a game away) and RB Salzburg are in the top ten positions of the rankings.

The Weekly Post presents the top 10 possession figures for each of the 35 championships analysed. In addition, the freshly updated CIES & InStat Performance Atlas presents additional data on six key technical indicators referring to defence, possession and attack. By clicking on teams, the tool allows users accessing exclusive statistics for up to the last 10 domestic league matches played. Please contact us for more information about the wide array of possibilities offered by subscribing to InStat.

Stability: Manchester City and Liverpool focus on continuity

Issue number 268 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post presents the percentage of domestic league minutes played by footballers signed at the start of the season for all of the big-5 league clubs. Last Champions League finalists, Tottenham (5.0%) and Liverpool (8.3%), as well as Manchester City (7.7%), are among the 14 teams where new recruits played less than one tenth of minutes.

The figures for Manchester United and Chelsea are much higher: 25.8% and 33.6% respectively. Among Champions League participants, only LOSC Lille fielded new signings for a greater percentage of minutes than Chelsea: 42.5%. The highest proportion in the big-5 was measured for Fiorentina (69.5%), a club recently taken over by a new wealthy owner.

The most stable teams are to be found in the Premier League, where new recruits played so far only 15.7% of minutes (maximum 50.4% at Aston Villa). At the opposite end of the table is the Italian Serie A: 29.6% (minimum 5.5% for Atalanta). The averages measured in the other three leagues of the big-5 are 22.7% for Bundesliga, 24.0% for the Liga (maximum 54.3% for Sevilla) and 26.7% for Ligue 1.

Champions League: like it short (Ajax) or long (Liverpool)?

Issue number 267 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post analyses the exclusive data produced by our partners InStat by ranking Champions League teams according to the average length of the passes achieved in domestic league games so far this season. Past edition semi-finalists Ajax have the lowest figure (15.96 meters), ahead of Paris St-Germain (16.17) and Barcelona (16.56).

At the opposite end of the table are Czech champions Slavia Praha with an average length of 19.82 meters (+24% compared to Ajax). Title holder Liverpool has so far achieved the fourth longest passes among group stage participants: 19.45 meters on average. This figure is significantly higher than for their main Premier League rivals Manchester City (17.39).

The majority of high-profile teams are among those making the shortest passes. Apart from Liverpool, the only recent Champions League finalist with an average length of passes greater than 18 meters is Atlético Madrid. Diego Simeone’s team achieved the third lowest number of passes per game (379), while Lucien Favre’s Borussia Dortmund made the most (735).

Manchester City first billion-euro squad in football history

For the first time in history, a football club invested more than one billion euro in transfer indemnities to assemble its squad: Manchester City. Following last summer transfer window, two clubs are close to this figure: Paris St-Germain (€913 million) and Real Madrid (€902 million). Issue number 266 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post presents the data for all teams in the big-5.

The gap between the costliest and cheapest squad per league is x148 in the Liga (Real Madrid vs Mallorca), x114 in the Ligue 1 (Paris St-Germain vs Nîmes), x85 in the Bundesliga (Bayern vs Paderborn), x63 in the Serie A (Juventus vs Lecce) and x32 in the Premier League (Manchester City vs Norwich). This reflects the great financial divides in European football.

The average transfer expenditure to sign current squad members per league is €345 M in the Premier League, €167 M in both the Liga and the Serie A, €124 M in the Bundesliga and €118 M in the Ligue 1. More exclusive financial analysis on the big-5 league transfer market is available in the 47th edition of the CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report.

Monthly Report reveals growing football transfer market inflation

All things being equal, the price of players during the last transfer window went up by 31% compared to the previous year. Since 2014, the annual inflation growth rate on the transfer market for big-5 league footballers has been 26%. With respect to 2011, the same player costs now almost three times more. More exclusive analysis is available in the 47th edition of the CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report.

The amounts at stake on the football players’ transfer market have strongly increased over the past decade. At big-5 league level, the investments in transfer indemnities have grown from €1.5 billion in 2010 to a new record of €6.6 billion in 2019 (+340%). During this period, big-5 league clubs have recorded a cumulative deficit of €8.9 billion. English Premier League clubs alone have a total net negative balance of €6.5 billion, with a record deficit for Manchester City (€1.1 billion).

Despite the increase in spending and a strongly inflationary context, the growing recourse by clubs to payments spread out over several years shows that more and more teams are finding themselves at the limit of their financial capabilities. In an increasingly speculative and uneven environment, a growing number of clubs, even within the most powerful leagues, include the profits made on the transfer market into their financial model. This situation is not without danger for their stability, independence and competitiveness.

Read the Report

Most expensive big-5 league players: Salah behind Mbappé

Issue number 265 of the Weekly Post presents the 100 players from the five major European leagues with the highest transfer values according to the freshly updated and further improved CIES Football Observatory algorithm. Three forwards are in the top three positions: Kylian Mbappé (€252M), Mohammed Salah (€219M) and Raheem Sterling (€208M).

Apart from strikers, the most expensive footballers per position are Alisson Becker (€107M) for goalkeepers, Trent Alexander-Arnold (€130M) for defenders and Paul Pogba (€125M) for midfielders. Lionel Messi (€167M) heads the rankings for players over 31 years of age, while Cristiano Ronaldo (€118M) tops the table for footballers aged 33 or more.

The CIES Football Observatory algorithm takes into account a wide array of variables such as age, contract, position, minutes, goals, international status, team results, etc. The estimates refer to the value for the most likely recruiting club. The price range for all of the big-5 league players can be accessed for free here. Deeper analysis is available on a consultancy basis.

Monthly Report shows development of women’s football

This new Monthly Report analyses the composition of teams participating in the five of the most developed women’s professional leagues worldwide: four European leagues (Germany, Sweden, France and England), as well as the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States. It reveals that the age of players increases, international mobility grows and the concentration of the best footballers within a limited number of clubs independently of their origin pursues its course.

The average age of players on the pitch has risen from 25.1 years of age in 2017 to 25.5 in 2019. The German Bundesliga is the only championship in which the average age on the pitch has fallen over the last three years. It is now the league fielding the youngest players among those covered by the study: 24.7 years of age (-0.8 since 2017). At the opposite end is the United States National Women’s Soccer League: 27.5 years of age (+1.3 years since 2017).

The percentage of minutes played by expatriates has increased for the third year running reaching a figure of 32.4% (+4.4% in comparison to 2017). The most notable increase was recorded in England (+7.5%), where more and more clubs invest in women’s football through reproducing the same mechanisms already observed in the men’s game. The total number of expatriates in the leagues covered increases year by year: from 300 in 2017, the figure reached 348 in 2018 and 379 in 2019.

Numerous teams play with a majority of footballers with international status. The percentage of minutes played by the latter reaches 99.0% at Bayern Munich and 98.8% at Arsenal. It is greater than 90% in three other teams: Wolfsburg, Manchester City, as well as at the multiple European champions Olympique Lyonnais (94.2%).

Though encouraging, the evolution noted shows the importance of reflecting on regulatory mechanisms to limit the negative effects due to market logics already observed in the men’s game such as, among others, the speculation on young players, the concentration of resources and competitive imbalance.

More and more points won by champions

What is the percentage of points won by champions in the five major European leagues? Issue number 264 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post answers this question for the last twenty seasons. The analysis reveals a progressive increase in the percentage of points achieved by champions.

On average, big-5 league champions obtained 69.9% of points for the five-season period between 1999/2000 and 2003/2004. This percentage went up to 73.9% during the following lustrum, to 77.7% between 2010 and 2014, and again up to 80.5% for the last five seasons. This reflects an ongoing trend towards competitive imbalance.

The record figure overall was registered for Juventus in 2013/14: 89.5% of points. At the other extreme is Olympique Lyonnais in 2002/03: 59.6%. All 2018/19 big-5 league champions achieved at least three quarters of points: from 86.0% for Manchester City (second highest score in the English Premier League history) to 76.3% for Barcelona.

Length of passes: the best like it short

Issue number 263 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post analyses the average length of passes by teams from 35 European domestic leagues. The study highlights big discrepancies in playing styles. There are almost 8 meters difference between the teams that executed the longest and shortest passes: Rotherham United (23.42m) and Paris St-Germain (15.85m). 

Many very competitive teams are in the top 25 of the rankings for the shortest passes, including Champions League semi-finalists FC Barcelona (2nd) and AFC Ajax (5th), as well as Europa League finalist Chelsea FC (4th). The vast majority of teams executing the longest passes are in the bottom-half of the table in their respective leagues. Getafe CF is the exception that confirms the rule. 

The analysis per league also reveals the persistence of cultural differences in the approach of the game. Teams from the Scottish Premier League (21.08m) and the English Championship (20.58m) execute on average the longest passes. At the opposite end of the table, we find the French Ligue 1 and the Finnish Veikkausliiga (18.89m in both cases). Data comes from InStat.

Report and Atlas on expatriate footballers disclosed

For the third year, the CIES Football Observatory analyses the presence of expatriate players in 147 leagues from 98 national associations. Brazil is clearly at the top of the rankings for countries exporting the most footballers (1,330 players), ahead of France (867) and Argentina (820). Alone, these countries export almost a quarter of footballers (22.5%). Overall, the number of expatriates increased by 5.0% compared to 2018.

During last year, the number of expatriates has increased for each of the three principle exporting countries: Brazil (+64 players, +4.8%), France (+37 players, +4.3%) and Argentina (+57 players, +7.0%). The number of Spaniards abroad has also strongly increased (+61 players, +14.3%). This is the second biggest increase in absolute terms after that of the Brazilians.

The most frequented migratory route originates from Brazil and ends in Portugal (261 players). The migration of Argentinians to Chili (116 players) is the second principle axis. Two migratory channels departing from England also involve many footballers: the first ends up in Scotland (113 players), while the second leads to Wales (92 players).

England and Italy are the chief importing countries of footballers. The professional clubs of these countries employ 728 and 636 expatriate players respectively. Without taking into account the 139 citizens of the other UK nations present in England, it is thus in Italy that the greatest number of players imported from abroad are to be found.

The CIES Football Observatory research team is also proud to disclose the brand new Atlas of Migration mapping the international flows of footballers.

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