Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio

Current affairs

Roma 11/05/2018

Second Teams: FIGC study confirms the need for reform

Second Teams: FIGC study confirms the need for reform

A study performed by the FIGC together with the Studies Centre along with Club Italia/Match Analysis recommended the introduction of Second Teams for the next Serie C season. There was a lot to reflect on from the dossier’s contents (see it here) regarding the use of young players at Serie A clubs and their playing time for the different Italian National Teams. 

Procedural Analysis 

Over the course of the past ten seasons, just 6.5 per cent of the young players who were registered at professional clubs for the 2007-8 season are still involved in the Italian professional football circuit. The percentage of players in the professional leagues stands at 4.4 per cent for Serie A (94 players from 2,123), and 1.9 per cent from Lega Pro (111 from 5,795). The figure for Serie B is 2.2 per cent (40 from 1,801). In the 2016-17 season, only 0.5 per cent of players studied (46 from 9,719) were still at the same club from 2007-8 (figures ranging from 1.5 per cent to 0.1 per cent in Lega Pro). 

Playing Time for Under-21 players

Thanks to squad restrictions introduced in Serie A, over the course of the past four seasons, there has been a significant increase in playing time for Italian under-21 footballers (+4.6 per cent yearly) and foreign players (up 3.7 per cent). There is a significant difference in the number of minutes played between Italian and foreign players. In the 2016-2017 season, Under-21 foreign players played 56 per cent more compared to their Italian counterparts. In the 20/21 age bracket, Italian players featured for 21,710 minutes in the 2016-2017 season, foreign players were double that at 43,564 minutes. 

Youth League: Performances from Italian clubs

In the first five editions of the UEFA Youth League, Italian teams have played 95 times, winning 34 matches (36 per cent). The win percentage varies between 31.5 per cent in the 2015-16 season and 44 per cent in the 2016-17 season. In the last season (2017-18), it was 33 per cent. The best result achieved by an Italian club was Roma who finished third in the 2014-15 edition while no other Italian side has ever reached the quarter-final stage. 

English clubs have led the way with two wins for the Premier League (Chelsea with both) and they’ve reached the final three times and the semi-finals four times. 

International Benchmark

Serie A is seventh in Europe for its average age (27.43 per cent) out of the 30 top divisions. In Europe’s top five leagues, Serie A has the highest average age ahead of England (27.33), Spain (27.18), France (26.38) and Germany (26.10). 

In terms of playing time for players born abroad, Serie A is fifth with over 50 per cent of the playing time in the league going to foreign players. Only the Premier League (61.05 per cent) sees more playing time for foreign players. Germany, Spain and France all have figures below 50 per cent. The other main gap with the other European leagues can be seen with the playing time for players who’ve come through club academies. Serie A (6.02 per cent) holds the penultimate position in Europe, ahead only of the Turkish league. Serie A is considerably behind leaders Spain (20.47 per cent), Germany (14.14 per cent), France (13.75 per cent) and England (6.99 per cent).

During the 2016-17 season, just 9.9 per cent of clubs registered in Serie A sides’ squads had come through the youth sector at their first club. The Italian top flight was ahead of the Premier League (8.5 per cent) but far behind La Liga (19.2 per cent) and Ligue 1 (23.8). 

The number of clubs with at least 15 per cent homegrown players in Italy is f, 5 in England, 7 in Germany, 11 in Spain and 14 in France. 

Analysis of the National Teams 

The number of appearances made by players called up for the 2016 European Championship was 1,136, the second lowest figure registered since 2006. The main criticism regards the decline in use of players who came through the underage teams. The players called up in 2016 had only featured 407 times cumulatively for the National Youth Teams, the lowest figure registered since 2006. The average age for EURO 2016 was 28.9 per cent, only EURO 2008 featured an older squad (29.2 per cent). 

For the main sides involved in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Italy had the highest average age at 28.9 years. It increased from 2015 when the average didn’t pass above 28.4. Spain have a similar average age (28) while France (26.4), England (25.9) and Germany (25.7) were considerably younger. 
2017 Under-21 European Championship: The Italian players had an overall figure of 43,273 minutes played, only England’s players had featured less (41,019). Germany were on 46,208 and Spain 46,899. With reference to Italy, there has been a noticeable improvement in the past two editions for the number of minutes played in the top flight and European cups. The most dramatic comparison is with Spain where their players have featured for 4,000 minutes in the top flight and European Cups with a difference of around 2,300 minutes. 

Under-19 European Championship finals in 2016: In comparing the playing time for the two finalists, France were clearly ahead with 21,778 minutes compared to 12,455 for the Italy players. On 31st December, the Italy players had only featured for 3,390 minutes in the top flight while the French were on 11,600 minutes (+242 per cent). The figures for European cups also saw France ahead with 302 minutes compared to 72. In the second divisions, the figures were closer with 9,885 minutes for France compared to 8,156 for Italy. 

2017 Under-20 World Cup: Out of the top five European teams, Italian players had the least experience of first team football with 47,319 minutes played. The main difference was with France whose players had 37,828 minutes of top flight experience and over 2,000 minutes in European compares (compared to 43 minutes for Italy). Italy were second however for playing time in the second division with 28,410 minutes, behind only Portugal’s figure of 60,000 minutes. Germany were top for playing time in the third division, mainly due to the number of Bundesliga players featuring for second sides.