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Most productive German Bundesliga players

The German Bundesliga was the first major European league to restart after the COVID-19 break. Issue number 298 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post presents the players with the best statistics during current season for eight different indicators according to the data provided by our partners OptaPro.

Yann Sommer leads the table for the number of saves, Kingsley Ehizibue (Köln) did the most successful tackles, while Omar Mascarell (Schalke 04) and Jamilu Collins (Paderborn) made the most interceptions. Alphonso Davies (Bayern) heads the rankings for successful dribbles, Sven Bender (Bayer) for accurate passes, Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig) for assists having led to attempts and Robert Lewandowski (Bayern) for shots.

Union Berlin’s centre forward Sebastian Andersson won more than twice aerial duels than the second player who won the most: 210 compared to 102. This astonishing figure is related to the style of play of his team, which fields the tallest line-ups in Europe, as illustrated by the exclusive CIES Football Observatory Demographic Atlas.

40 matches to say good-bye: the hard life of coaches

Issue number 297 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post analyses the employment of head coaches in 84 top divisions worldwide between January 2015 and December 2019. During this period, the average number of coaches per club in charge for at least three domestic league matches goes from 9.1 in Bolivia to 2.6 in Sweden. On average, a coach managed 40.6 games.

The data per league represent a fair estimate of the real ones as we only included in the sample the championships for which we could find the complete coaching history for at least half of the clubs concerned. The club rankings only include teams that have always been in the first division during the period considered.

The highest value was recorded for Club Real Potosí. The Bolivian side employed 20 different coaches for at least three domestic league matches between 2015 and 2019. On average, they were in charge for 11.3 games. Only 30 clubs out of the 766 taken into consideration employed a single coach during the five-year period studied. All current big-5 league teams had at least two coaches during this period.

Easy wins: Lincoln Red Imps at the top

Issue number 296 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post reveals that Lincoln Red Imps from Gibraltar is the current top division team worldwide having won the highest percentage of domestic league matches played between 2015 and 2020 by three or more goals: 49.6%. AFC Ajax is fifth (37.4%), while Paris St-Germain and Barcelona are ninth (35.4%).

At league level, the highest percentage of easy wins was recorded in the top division of Macao (42.5% of total matches), ahead of Tahiti (38.1%) and Estonia (32.6%). The figures for the five major European leagues vary between 18.8% in Germany and 15.5% in Italy. The average for the 151 top divisions analysed is 14.4%.

The greatest percentage of fixtures ended in a tie between 2015 and 2020 was recorded in Gambia (42.1%), while the lowest was observed in Macao (14.9%). Naft Masjed Soleyman from Iran is the current top division team with the highest percentage of draws during the period surveyed (47.4%). Tukums from Latvia is at the opposite end of the table (8.2%).

Football players’ production: Brazil world leader

The CIES Football Observatory just published its 55th Monthly Report. The study analyses the contribution of national associations worldwide from the point of view of the production of professional players. The sample includes 55,865 footballers having played during the 2019 calendar year in 132 top or second division leagues from 93 countries covering all continents.

To produce the ranking, domestic league minutes played by each footballer were weighted according to a coefficient of clubs’ sporting strength, calculated by taking into account the division and results of teams at national level, as well as the results of the representatives of every association in international club competitions. The origin of players was defined as the association where they grew up.

Brazil stands out as the world leader regarding the production of professional footballers. Brazilians are numerous (2,748 in the 132 leagues studied, of which 1,541 are abroad), play a considerable number of minutes (1,203 domestic league minutes per year compared to a general average of 1,133 minutes) and are active in high-level clubs (sporting coefficient of 0.49 compared to an average of 0.37).

France is the second world powerhouse, just ahead of Spain. The French are more numerous than the Spanish in the leagues studied (1,744 as opposed to 1,350), but are less fielded (on average 1,260 minutes against 1,360 in 2019) and play in clubs with a lower level (average sporting coefficient of 0.55 as opposed to 0.63). Argentina ranks fourth outranking two other European countries: England and Germany.

Goalless matches: Africa stands out

The 295th edition of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post ranks 150 top division leagues and clubs worldwide according to the percentage of goalless games during the five-year period between January 2015 and December 2019. At the top 30 places are 23 Africans domestic championships. The highest percentage overall was recorded in Gambia (23.5%) ahead of Cameroon (19.1%).

The highest and lowest percentages per Confederation were recorded for Iraq (14.9%) and Macao (2.9%) in Asia (continental average of 7.6%), Gambia (23.5%) and Madagascar (7.4%) in Africa (13.9%), Haiti (18.5%) and Suriname (3.0%) in North America (8.1%), Argentina (11.5%) and Bolivia (5.6%) in South America (8.3%), as well as Montenegro (13.0%) and Northern Ireland (3.4%) in Europe (7.9%).

At club level, the figures vary between 29.8% for Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) and 0.0% for Warrenpoint Town. None of the 167 games played by the Northern Irish team during the period considered ended goalless. The highest percentage for current teams from the five major European leagues was recorded for Angers (23 0-0 out of 191 matches, 12.0%), while the lowest was observed for Cagliari (6 out of 195, 3.1%).

Which clubs and leagues field the most U21 players?

Early professional experience is key to succeed in football. Great discrepancies exist between clubs and leagues in the opportunities given to young players to prove their talent. Issue number 294 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post presents the percentage of minutes played in the current season or the last completed one by U21 footballers from 1,292 clubs and 93 top divisions worldwide.

At league level, the playing time of U21 footballers stretches from 29.0% in the Slovakian Super Liga to only 3.7% in the Saudi Pro League and the Turkish Süper Lig. In South America, the figures vary from 21.2% in Uruguay to 11.0% in the Argentina. The French Ligue 1 is the major European league with the highest percentage of minutes by U21 players (15.0%), while the Spanish Liga is at the opposite end of the table (7.0%).

The highest figures at club level per Confederation were recorded for the reserve team of Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand (93.3%), the Young Lions in Singapore (81.1%), University College Dublin in Ireland (78.0%), Cavalier in Jamaica (58.1%), Universidad San Martín in Peru (56.6%) and NA Hussein Dey in Algeria (40.0%). In the big-5, the highest value was measured for LOSC Lille (32.1%), while four clubs did not field U21 players (Levante, Crystal Palace, Union Berlin and Sheffield United).

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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