01 June 2010

More on National Teams and Domestic Leagues

What national team has the most players from its domestic leagues? Football-rankings.info has the data for the provisional squads:
Team - Local based - Total players - Percentage

England 30 30 100
Italy 29 30 96.67
Germany 26 27 96.3
Korea DPR 20 23 86.96
Japan 26 30 86.67
Spain 26 30 86.67
Greece 21 30 70
Honduras 20 30 66.67
South Africa 19 30 63.33
Mexico 16 26 61.54
Korea Republic 18 30 60
France 17 30 56.67
Netherlands 16 30 53.33
New Zealand 13 30 43.33
Portugal 12 30 40
Chile 11 30 36.67
Denmark 11 30 36.67
Switzerland 11 30 36.67
Argentina 10 30 33.33
USA 9 30 30
Algeria 8 30 26.67
Paraguay 6 30 20
Brazil 5 30 16.67
Serbia 5 30 16.67
Uruguay 4 26 15.38
Ghana 4 30 13.33
Slovenia 4 30 13.33
Slovakia 3 29 10.34
Cameroon 3 30 10
Cote d'Ivoire 2 30 6.67
Nigeria 2 30 6.67
Australia 1 30 3.33

What European league has the most foreign players (2008-2009)?

Percentage of Foreign Players

Netherlands 177/505 35%

Spain 189/520 36%

France 205/543 38%

Italy 227/570 40%

Germany 266/510 52%

England 351/575 61%


  1. This year's Champions League Winner Inter Milan had no Italian player in its team; they had a Portuguese coach and they played - absolutely Italian.

  2. You forget one very important League - The Championship in England. This league/divison is the wealthiest non-top flight football division in the world, and the sixth richest division in Europe.

    There is a good sprinkling of Championship players at the World Cup

  3. So, what do we make of this?

    There are four top leages in Europe: England, Spain, Italy and Germany.

    For players from each country there is little reason (financially and skill level wise) to move abroad. Hence, most national teams of these countries consist of players from their own league.

    For other countries it is more likely that their best players play abroad.

    For (wealthy) European countries with a still reasonably strong league (Greece, Netherlands, France) there is an even distribution among Local and International players.

    For most small countries/leagues most players will play abroad. Either because their leagues are too weak (e.a. smaller European countries) and/or their income can be much high by playing in Europa (e.g. Argentina and Brazil).

    If this is correct, then International players from Greece, Netherlands and France should be playing in the top four European leagues, while the other International players should be more scattered around Europe.

    Cheers, Jos.

  4. -2-Malcolm

    Yes, a good point. I do have some data on Championship which I'll report on in due course.


    I did not include this data, but for the top 5 UEFA leagues, only France has fewer goals scored by nationals than is implied by the overall percentage of foreign players (assuming that it would be proportional.) This implies to me that Germany, England, Italy and Spain are the only countries who can retain an excess of national talent, whereas France is a net contributor of talent to other leagues.

    I am sure that money explains a lot of this, but there also must be room for politics (N Korea) and culture.

  5. More statistics: from the 23 Dutch players selected, 14 play in foreign leagues: England, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Spain.

  6. Thanks Roger.

    Is this an omen for England? I believe Italy had the only squad of players in World Cup 2006 based completely domestically (100%).

  7. I am enjoying this analysis but agree with Jos above that these metrics really just indicate the desirability of playing in a home nation league relative the desirability of the nations players.

    Brazil is a case in point. Small percentage of players stay home because they can make much more money elsewhere.

  8. Players are happpier near home, so English players get very good offers from English teams. They don't have to go abroad.

  9. In a follow up post can you please pose the question - “What national team has the LEAST players from its domestic leagues?” – it would be nice to see us Aussies at the top of one of these lists!

  10. Re: France, doesn't it have a salary cap, resulting in its best players moving abroad routinely?

    I believe Russia had 100% of its European Championship squad playing in its domestic league. That changed when good performances led to Arshavin and a couple of others becoming hot properties. And Spurs bought Pavlyuchenko for some reason.

    And should England underperform again I imagine there will be some blame cast on this phenomenon, with people suggesting that you can't win at the top level unless you have players with experience in Italy and/or Spain.