A recent research5 has analyzed the relationship between the migration of players and the annual ranking of the national teams of each country according to the World Football Elo Rating. The study, published in the magazine Frontiers in Psychology in 2019, was based on the annual analysis of 243 countries in the period 1994-2018. The migration was measured collecting the number of emigrant players from each country that played in some of the following competitions: Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, English Premier League, German Bundesliga, and the French Ligue 1 (all together known as the “Big-Five”). The results showed that the outstanding performance of a national team in a championship causes a high number of players from this country to immediately migrate to another competition with a higher football level. The best football players are quickly signed by wealthy clubs. However, the impact of the players from the national team that emigrate, doesn’t have such a big impact and it isn’t that fast. The positive impact of these emigrant players for the position of their national team in the World Football Elo Rating takes place 4 years after their departure to another country.
It seems that the future of football is attached to an increasing globalization phenomenon. Player migration is becoming a key aspect to explain the performance of the teams. The data indicates that having players trained in home clubs is becoming less important. The challenge for the teams may be to combine both strategies: support training good players in the home club and reinforce the team with football players from other clubs when their own players aren’t that good for a given position.
Carlos Lago Peñas
1 Held, D., McGrew, A., Goldblatt, D., and Perraton, J. (1999). Global Transformations. Politics, Economics, and Culture. Oxford: Polity Press
2 Milanovic, B. (2005). Globalization and goals: does soccer show the way? Rev. Int. Polit. Econ. 12, 829–850. doi: 10.1080/09692290500339818
3 Poli, R., Ravenel, L., and Besson, R. (2019). The demographics of football in the European labour market. Avaliable at: http://www.football-observatory.com/IMG/sites/mr/mr49/en/
4 Poli, R., Ravenel, L., and Besson, R. (2019). World football expatriate: global study 2019. Avaliable at: http://www.football-observatory.com/IMG/sites/mr/mr45/en/
5 Lago-Peñas C, Lago-Peñas S and Lago I (2019) Player Migration and Soccer Performance. Front. Psychol. 10:616. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00616