As more money and funds are introduced into European football, and more power is given to players, the number of club trained players is on a decline in recent years. It has also resulted in a higher proportion of player mobility as well, indicating a trend many have suspected over the years.
It has often been seen that the most dominant teams of their era are always built on solid home grown players. Yet, in recent years the pressure and tendency to buy success has become more common than it should be. Historically, great National teams have coincided with great club teams. For example the great Dutch and German of the 1970’s were built on a solid core of players representing Ajax and Bayern Munich. The trend continued into the 1980’s with Juventus providing the core of the World Cup winning Italian side in 1982. The same thing could be said of the Spanish National team and the FC Barcelona team as recent as the late 2000’s. However, why are teams deviating from the tried and tested formula and opting to loan out/sell their players in favor of foreign talent.
In three countries, footballers who have been for at least three seasons between 15 and 21 years of age in their employer club account for less than 10% of squad members: Turkey (6.9%), Portugal(9.6%) and Cyprus (9.6%). At the opposite end of the table, the percentage of club-trained players is over 30% in Slovakia (31.5%) and Ukraine (30.6%).
The lowest proportion among big-5 leagues was recorded in the English Premier League: 10.0%. Since 2012, this percentage has steadily decreased to reach a record low in the current season. Conversely, in the Spanish Liga, club-trained footballers account for almost one quarter of squads: 24.1%. The multiple trophies won by Spanish clubs in European club competitions suggest that the ability to field top level players from the youth academy provides a competitive advantage over rivals.
It once again proves conclusively that patience and time is always required to build a long lasting and successful squad. It has the potential to not only serve the local clubs but also the National Teams. A sense of team spirit and belongingness goes a long way in ensuring continued success.
But the other end of the spectrum remains as intriguing. Clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea have had to spend big in recent years rather than rely on their policy of fielding young talent to keep up with their rivals. Gone are the days when fans could tolerate a few rebuilding years, in this age of super fast technology, fans and the board demand instant fame and results, otherwise players and staff are shown the door in the blink of an eye. Louis Van Gaal was sacked last year after a couple of lackluster years with the Red Devils, rather than given more time Imagine if the same treatment had been dished out to Sir Alex Ferguson after his first two years in charge. Big teams like Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich are also upgrading each year to keep pace with each other, as any high profile signing at one club immediately sparks transfer activity in another.
Instant results, huge cash flow, lesser restrictions has led to this run and gun era which looks like it will continue for some time to come. It is not a very highly sustainable tactic and I am sure the age old mantra of producing home talents will eventually bear maximum fruit.