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New Football Observatory study unveils crisis of youth training in Europe

Following UEFA’s definition, club-trained players are footballers who have been for at least three seasons between the ages of 15 and 21 in their employer team. The relative presence of this category of players in squads has steadily decreased from 23.1% in 2009 to only 19.7% in 2015. Club-trained footballers still accounted for more than one fifth of squad members in 2014: 21.0%.

This finding reflects the lesser tendency of European top division clubs to give their chance to players from their youth academy. As a consequence, the average age of footballers in the 31 top division leagues surveyed has reached a new record high: 26.0 years. The decrease in the proportion of club-trained players also reflects the greater mobility of footballers from their youngest age.

The Report also presents the rankings of clubs who trained the most players active in the leagues surveyed. At the top of the overall table is Partizan Belgrade (78 players trained), followed by Ajax Amsterdam (75 players). FC Barcelona heads the ranking of clubs who trained the most players under contract with big-5 league teams (44 players), ahead of Olympique Lyonnais (35 players) and Real Madrid (34 players). All data is available in issue number 125 of the Big-5 Weekly Post.

Last but not least, the CIES Football Observatory is pleased to unveil a brand new version of its exclusive Digital Atlas on the demography of footballers in Europe. This unique tool presents a wide array of indicators allowing users to grasp the latest trends in the European football players’ labour market. The next Monthly Reports will further develop some of the exclusive information presented in the Digital Atlas.

The CIES Football Observatory warmly thanks its growing audience for the interest and positive feedback received. The authors of the Report - Drs Raffaele Poli, Loïc Ravenel and Roger Besson - are at the disposal of media at football.observatory@cies.ch.