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).