The latest analysis from the CIES Football Observatory looks into the world’s youngest teams, and it’s interesting reading for Arsenal and Barcelona fans.
Arsenal and Barcelona are two of Europe’s newest clubs
The Swiss data rates clubs from 72 top leagues across the world based on the average age of their lineups fielded in league games so far this season, as well as the proportion of minutes allocated to players under the age of 21 during those games. When it comes to Europe’s “Big Five,” AS Monaco leads the way with an average squad age of 24.31 years so far this season. According to the statistics, players under the age of 21 have clocked 14.2 percent of the minutes played by Monaco this season. Ligue 1 in France leads the way in terms of game time allocated to young players among Europe’s “Big Five” leagues. This season, Monaco leads the rankings because to emerging players such as Myron Boadu, Sofiane Diop, Anthony Musaba, and Aurelien Tchouameni. Saint-Etienne and Brest, with average team ages of 24.74 and 24.75 years respectively, round out the top five. Marseille (24.81 years), Reims (24.88), and Nice (24.94) ensure that six French clubs are represented in the top ten.
Metta is superior.
In the grand scheme of things, Latvian side FK Metta leads CIES’ overall world ranking, with an average squad age of just 20.16 years and 63.5 percent of minutes in their 21 games going to players under the age of 21. Krists Gulbis, a 22-year-old centre-back who is virtually a grizzled veteran compared to some of his teammates, is the oldest player in FK Metta’s first-team roster.
The CIES statistics backs up Arsenal’s reputation for developing young players, with the Gunners having the lowest average age in the Premier League (25.01 years). This was exemplified over the weekend when teenage midfielders Emile Smith Rowe (21) and Martin Odegaard (22) thrashed local rivals Tottenham Hotspur 3-1. According to the research, 11 percent of Arsenal’s league minutes were split between U21 players including Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, and Folarin Balogun.
Barcelona is doing something right right now.
Barca have struggled for consistency so far this season after a chaotic summer. The Catalans might take some comfort in the fact that their proud tradition of developing young academy prospects into first-team stars appears to be continuing. With young stars like Ansu Fati, Pedri, and Gavi, Ronald Koeman’s side is ranked second in Europe’s top five leagues for the proportion of minutes given to players under the age of 21, with a total of 22.7 percent. Only Bayer Leverkusen of Germany is ahead of them on the list, with a total of 23.5 percent in Bundesliga games this season.
The Club of the 0.01%
On the other hand, 89 of the 1,041 teams questioned, including Juventus and Atletico Madrid, have not fielded any players under the age of 21 so far this season. Newcastle United, Burnley, and West Ham United are the only Premier League clubs without any U21 players in their squad for 2021-22, as are Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany, and Scottish champions Rangers in Scotland.
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