The March edition of the CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report analyses the evolution in the fielding of young players in 31 European top division leagues. While the overall percentage of minutes played by U22 footballers is stable, that of young nationals is on the decrease.
This reflects the growing international mobility of players from a very early age. Issue number 141 of the Big-5 Weekly Post presents the most experienced players born on or after 1995.
Between 1st July 2009 and 31st December 2015, footballers who did not yet celebrate their 22nd birthday played 14.6% of domestic league minutes in 31 top divisions throughout Europe. This percentage varies from 28.7% in Croatia to 6.1% in Cyprus.
The highest value at big-5 league level was observed in the German Bundesliga (14.5%). This is almost twice as much as in the English Premier League and the Italian Serie A (7.5%).
At club level, the highest figures for teams always present in the top division league of their country during the period analysed were measured for Lokomotiva Zagreb (54.2%), OFK Belgrade (43.0%) and Feyenoord Rotterdam (39.8%). The record level in the big-5 was registered for Schalke 04 (25.0%), ahead of Toulouse (24.2%) and Bayer Leverkusen (20.7%). The record value in the English Premier League was at Liverpool (14.7%).
The Report also presents the lowest values of minutes played by U22 national footballers. AEL Limassol fielded young nationals for the fewest percentage of minutes (0.2%), followed by Stoke City and Juventus (both 0.4%). This figure was very low also at Chelsea (0.5%) and Manchester City (1.4%).
Many other teams recently qualified for the Champions League are not concerned about giving young nationals their chance: Naples, Rome, Zenit, Fenerbahçe, Porto, etc.
Issue number 141 of the Big-5 Weekly Post presents the most experienced players born in or after 1995. Experience is calculated on the basis of domestic league matches played since the start of the career at adult level, weighted according to the sporting level of employer clubs.
Six players born in 1997 employed by clubs outside the big-5 leagues have a greater experience than any footballer born in the same year playing in the five major championships: Rúben Neves (Porto), Youri Tielemans (Anderlecht), Breel Embolo (Basle), Enes Ünal (NAC Breda, on loan from Manchester City), Ante Ćorić (Dinamo Zagreb) and Renato Sanches (Benfica). Sooner or later, they all should be able to settle in the most competitive leagues.
The top-10 tables for both players in the big-5 leagues and outside the five major European championships are presented in issue number 141 of the Big-5 Weekly Post.