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The Guardian picked up on an interesting data story yesterday, highlighting the research by the financial advisors Grant Thornton that only 16 English players have appeared in the Champions League final in its 15 year history. Not enough, you might think, but then only 3 English clubs have got to the final (ManU 1999, Liverpool 2005, 2007, Arsenal 2006). What this research really points out is that English players don’t “travel”. Very few of our top players move to clubs abroad, and Premiership clubs are cash-rich so can import players from all over the world.

If you look at the French team, almost all of their players are in foreign leagues. However, in the last World Cup, Italy had a squad 100% based in their domestic league. Even England had Beckham (Real Madrid) and Hargreaves (Bayern Munich) playing abroad. And Italian clubs and players have dominated the Champions League

Here’s the table:

Top ten countries who have supplied the most players in Champions League finals No. of finalists % of overall total Population
1: Italy 90 21.95% 58.15m
2: Spain 56 13.66% 40.45m
3= France 41 10% 63.71m
3= Germany 41 10% 82.4m
5: Holland 36 8.78% 16.57m
6: Brazil 24 5.85% 190.01m
7: England 16 3.90% 50.43m
8= Portugal 15 3.66% 10.64m
8= Argentina 15 3.66% 40.30m
10: Croatia 9 2.20% 4.49m

Source: Grant Thornton, CIA World Factbook

Lesson: buy Italian players. Or an Italian club.