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Italy's Serie A Ranks Worst in Europe for Producing Its Own Players

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Italy's Serie A Ranks Worst in Europe for Producing Its Own Players
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A new report from the CIES Football Observatory in Switzerland has shown Italy's Serie A to be Europe's least-effective league at harnessing its own talent.

Just 7.8 percent of players fielded in Serie A last year were classed as "club-trained" by the study, which is released biannually and collates a wealth of data across Europe's top 31 UEFA member divisions. 

By comparison, Spain's La Liga leaned on 25.6-percent homegrown players—perhaps best represented by Barcelona, who fielded an entire XI of players raised through their La Masia academy during a match in November (H/T Daily Mail).

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Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi—all products of Barcelona's youth system

French Ligue 1 was not far behind in 2012, with 21.1 percent of players the product of their clubs' youth systems. That number for the Premier League in England dropped to 17.5 percent, while just 14.7 percent of players in Germany's Bundesliga were classed as homegrown.

In terms of an overall trend, it appears Europe's top leagues are growing evermore reliant on players brought in from elsewhere. "The percentage of club-trained players diminished for the second successive season to reach a record-low of 21.1 percent," reads the CIES report.

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Iker Casillas has risen through the ranks at Real Madrid

The detailed CIES research also broke down the numbers by position:

It turns out goalkeepers are most likely to be homegrown, with 25.9 percent of all keepers developed in-house. Fullbacks (22.5-percent homegrown) are next, followed by attacking midfielders (22.2-percent) and defensive midfielders (21.6-percent).

It's in central defence (18.8-percent) and attack (17.4-percent) that clubs are most likely to look outside their own sphere for talent.

Generally speaking, the lower the standard of football, the higher the percentage of club-trained players. Clubs classed as "Tier 1" in the study average 17.2 percent of homegrown players, while that number for those ranked "Tier 5" rises to 30.3 percent.

This graphic, as produced by the CIES, shows overall trends in homegrown players from 2011 to 2012 on a country-by-country basis.

Also of note is the finding that European club football is now more reliant on foreign imports than ever before. Said Dr Raffaele Poli, head of the CIES study, in an official press release:

The percentage of players imported from abroad at European level has never been as high as in the current season. Of the top 31 division leagues of UEFA member associations we surveyed, 36.1 percent of all squad members grew up in a different national association to that of their employer club.

That number is over 50 percent for the Premier League in England and Italy's Serie A.

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