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Ajax Top of Stepping Stone Clubs Says CIES Football Observatory

Ajax are the most prominent feeder club for teams in the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1, according to a study conducted by the CIES Football Observatory. Overall 22 players from the Amsterdam club were present in the five most major European leagues, up to March this year.

CIES Football Observatory Says Ajax Top of Stepping Stone Clubs

Selling the Best

The four-time European champions have often sold their best players to bigger and richer clubs.

In 1973 Johann Cruyff left for Barcelona for 60 million pesetas, while Marco Van Basten joined AC Milan back in 1987, where he won two European Cups and three Italian titles.

After last season’s run to the Champions League semi-final, Frenkie De Jong followed in Cruyff’s footsteps to move to Barcelona for £67.5 million.

As well, Matthijs De Light signed for Juventus, and Hakim Ziyech has completed a £36 million move to Chelsea, leaving the club in the summer.

Recent reports including one from Dutch News via a story in L’Equipe suggest that goalkeeper Andre Onana could be the next to leave Ajax. French champions Paris Saint-Germain are apparently interested.

Benfica Next Best of Stepping Stone Clubs

Benfica followed Ajax in second place in the list of springboard clubs the CIES Football Observatory found, having transferred 21 players to the top five European leagues.

Joao Felix moved to Atletico Madrid last summer for a huge fee of £113 million.

As well, Ederson and Victor Lindelof both moved to Manchester for City and United respectively three years ago.

RB Salzburg were in third place, having sold 20 players to the biggest five league clubs. Erling Haaland’s switch to Borussia Dortmund in January was one such high profile move.

Real Madrid’s reserve team, Real Madrid Castilla, were fourth, with 17 players graduating from their ranks.

There was no Premier League presence in the top 20 launch pad clubs.

Yet, Leeds United, currently in the Championship, have supplied eight players to the five leagues, and are joint 16th in the stepping stone table.

PSV a Hunting Ground for Premier League Clubs

Premier League clubs have often looked to PSV Eindhoven as a fruitful source for recruitment.

Overall, eight current players have moved from the Dutch club, Steven Bergwijn being the latest to transfer to England, with a £27 million move to Tottenham Hotspur in January.

Sporting Lisbon has provided Premier League clubs with seven players, while Leeds United have proven to be fertile ground, with six players moving up from the Championship.

A total of 13 players have been picked up from Real Madrid Castilla, the highest in La Liga, while 12 players have arrived from Benfica.

Seven players have exchanged Ajax’s colours to move to Serie A, in a similar vein to De Ligt.

The Erling Haaland transfer to Dortmund was a familiar pattern, as 15 players have transferred to the Bundesliga from RB Salzburg.

There was a different trend that emerged from Ligue 1, as clubs tended to sign players from lower-division French teams.

Seven have moved from third-tier Tours FC, and Le Harve in Ligue 2, while six have arrived from Clermont Foot, also currently in Ligue 2.

This perhaps reflects the general spending power of French clubs outside of Paris Saint- Germain.

Yet, in total, 42% of transfers were completed from lower division clubs from France, England, Germany, Spain and Italy.

La Liga on Top for Promoting Youth

La Liga was revealed by the CIES Football Observatory to have encouraged youth development the most out of the top five leagues.

Just over 50% of players advanced to the first team from youth and reserve team leagues, in contrast to 38.6% being recruited from other clubs.

Yet, the Premier League has promoted a relatively smaller 29.1% of players from their youth and reserve systems.

Only Serie A has a worse record, with 24.9% being brought through the youth ranks to the first team.

Italian top-flight clubs also drafted 62.9% of their squads from other clubs, the highest out of the five leagues the report concluded.

Following that pattern, Premier League clubs brought in the second-most players on from elsewhere, with 53.5% of players arriving from other clubs.

Bundesliga Clubs the Biggest International Shoppers

Nearly three-quarters of Bundesliga players have been grabbed from international markets, the report found.

Overall 73.7% were bought from foreign clubs. More than the 62.6% average from the top five leagues.

Premier League teams mostly favoured signing players from within its borders, as 48.8% of players were bought from other English clubs.

CIES said that the lower number of international purchases from the Premier League of 51.2%, is explained by the number of players that were loaned out to clubs in lower divisions, who then played in the Premier League.


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