Reviewing the Premier League’s Summer Recruitment

This summer saw the English Premier League clubs smash records when it came to collective spending on new recruits.

According to Deloitte, the 20 clubs spent in excess of £1.165 billion on new players during the close season, which included Paul Pogba’s world record move from Juventus to Manchester United. This is an increase of 35% on the previous summer’s spending and if you compare it to the first summer of the current decade, clubs are now spending over three times the amount they were in 2010.

Just over a fortnight ago, each club had to declare their 25-man Premier League squad for the 2016/17 season, so we felt this would be a good time to see what impact each club’s recruitment had on their playing personnel for the new campaign, using data exported from Scout7’s global player database.

As well as looking at the changes in personnel, in this blog we will look at the impact the recruitment has had on the average ages of each squad and explore the markets where each player has been recruited from.

Of course the 25-man squads don’t cover off each club’s entire playing personnel, as they don’t include the club’s contracted players under 21. However they can give us an insight into just how many experienced players have been recruited by clubs, as well as highlighting how many older players have been retained since this time last year.

Total Number of New Additions - By Club

In total 123 new signings, made since September 2015, were named in the 2016/17 Premier League 25-man squads. In addition, a further 10 players who were either out on loan at other clubs last season, or were not named in the 2015/16 squad despite being registered with the club, were also named for this season.

The teams with the most new players in their squad compared to this time last year are Middlesbrough and Watford, who named 11 and 10 new players respectively. Four clubs have only named four new players, including both Manchester clubs, despite both teams possessing new Managers for the new campaign.

*=includes players who were out on loan last season or at the club, but not named in their 2015/16 squad.

Manchester United have also named 20 players, out of a total of 24, who were named in their squad this time last season.

Stoke City have also kept faith with 20 players from 2015/16, however Watford have changed almost 50% of their senior personnel, with only 12 of their 24 players from the start of last season being retained.

*Figures for promoted clubs based on players attached to the club on 1/9/2015

Average Ages

Whilst the 25-man squads don’t give you the full picture of a club’s overall recruitment policy, it can give you an idea of the typical age of new players being recruited within their over-21 recruitment strand.

This summer, the average age of Tottenham’s over-21 signings was far lower than any other team at 23.7, with defending Champions Leicester having the second lowest average at 25. Everton signed several experienced players from other Premier League clubs, which is reflected in the average age of their new signings, which is the highest at 28.3.

The average age of Tottenham’s new signings also tallies with the average age of their full 25-man squad, which is the lowest in the Premier League at 25.2. Their only player aged 30 or over is their reserve goalkeeper, Michel Vorm.

In contrast, Manchester City currently have eleven players aged 30 or over in their squad, which will explain why it is the oldest on average across the league. However only one of their summer recruits, Claudio Bravo, was aged over 30.

Nationality of New Recruits

Believe it or not, a staggering 76 different nationalities are represented across the entire Premier League this season, covering both the 25-man squads and the players under 21.

If we look at the players recruited during the last 12 months and named in the 25-man squads, we can see that 45 of those 76 nations are represented, with 19 players being English.

In terms of other nations, predictably there is a strong representation of French and Spanish players, along with Holland, Belgium and Germany. Between these 5 nations, 43 players have signed with Premier League clubs.

Independent of the new transfers, it is also fascinating to see how many different nationalities are represented in each Premier League squad, including the under 21 players, which is maybe one reason why the league has such a global appeal.

Nine teams have over 20 different nationalities in their squads, with Watford having the highest number of countries at 26, above Arsenal and Manchester United, who have 24 each.

Where were the new players signed from?

Whilst it is interesting to know the nationality of each new signing, what is perhaps more relevant is the country where each player was recruited from, which can give you an indication of what recruitment markets are key to Premier League clubs.

In total, the new players named in the 25-man squads were signed from nineteen different countries, including two outside of Europe.

Just under half of the total transfers took place between English clubs, which suggests that experience of English football remains highly desirable to a buying club, possibly due to a lower risk in a player settling quickly. Of the overseas markets, the most popular this summer was Spain, where 16 players were recruited. A decent number of players were signed from France and Germany too, which suggests that when looking at players overseas aged over 21, the ‘Big-Five’ leagues are still the key recruiting ground.

Where did players leaving the Premier League go?

Whilst English clubs have been recruiting players from 19 different countries, it is also important to note that players who have left the Premier League since last September have headed to destinations all around the world too.

152 players named in the 2015/16 25-man squads are no longer with the clubs they were attached to last September, including 14 players who are still free agents having been released in the summer.

The vast majority of these players, 78, have moved to other English clubs, but we have also seen a decent number to players head abroad to join clubs in other ‘Big-5' countries.

In addition to that, we can also see that four players have moved to China and Turkey respectively. This is the same as the number of players who crossed England’s land-border into Scotland.

Will the spending continue into January?

During the 2015/16 mid-season transfer window, £175 million was spent on new players by Premier League clubs. So if we see an increase in spending in January 2017, at the same level as what we saw this summer, we could be on course to seeing expenditure exceeding the existing record for mid-season transfers, which was £225 million in 2011.

Given the fees now involved in signing experienced, established players, both at home and abroad, it further highlights just how crucial it is to get player recruitment right during each window.

This is where we hope the technology we provide our client clubs can successfully support these recruitment processes. Of course the technology is only an aid, but if it can help a club optimise its assessment of key targets, as well as ensuring that all the information is easily accessible when required, then we hope that it can help a club make a sound and well-informed decision each time a key recruitment decision has to be made.

by Andy Cooper PR & Project Manager

Published 16 September 2016