When it comes to giving youth a chance, the English Premier League is at the bottom of the table out of the big five leagues.
Data released by CIES, a dedicated statistics analysis company, shows that footballers under 21 years of age played only 5.3% of minutes this season in the Premier League.
Top of the league for giving young players a chance was the French Ligue 1 division with 12.1% of minutes played by under 21-year-olds.
The stats cover England, Germany, Spain, France and Italy. Of the clubs in each of these leagues, Liverpool had the highest percentage of U21 players in England with 19.8% compared to the highest in France of 34.6% from Champions League quarter-finalists, AS Monaco.
Valencia were the highest users of young players in Spain with 25.5%, Empoli in Italy with 23.3% and Bayer Leverkusen in Germany had 23.1%.
None of the named teams with a prominent use of young players won their respective leagues, in fact, Monaco were the highest placed team, finishing third in Ligue 1.
Surprisingly, the success of La Liga champions and Champions League finalists, Barcelona, renowned developers of young players through the famous La Masia academy, has come with U21’s playing less than 2% of minutes, likewise at Juventus, proving that experience is crucial in a team.
One reason for the low turnout of under 21’s in England could be attributed to the pressure that managers are under. With the huge fortunes at stake in the modern game, especially in the Premier League, very few managers have the luxury of giving youth a chance and instead stick with seasoned professionals.
The statistics also go to show how far behind England as a nation is in giving youth a chance. The reluctance to do so at club level has hindered the national team, as seen with poor showings at the World Cup and European Championship in recent times.
A lot of talk about the character of players was an argument for underachieving, as well as the talent being produced. Maybe more faith from managers in giving youth a chance would be a good step in the right direction.
Do you think the lack of chances youth players get in the Premier League is hindering England's national team? Give us YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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