By 90Min
November 21, 2017

Ligue 1 appears to be the best of Europe's top five leagues when it comes to handing chances to young players, with more of the continent's most used players born in 1997 or later coming from the French top flight than any of the others - Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga.

The latest research from the CIES Football Observatory has calculated the percentage of league minutes young players born in or since 1997 have played, to reveal a 'top 10' most used youngsters by position.

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Positions are broken down into six groups - goalkeepers, centre-backs, full-backs, defensive midfielders, attacking midfielders, forwards. With only four goalkeepers fitting the age parameter, that gives a total of 54 most used young players.

As many as 19 of those (more than one in every three) play for clubs in Ligue 1 alone, making it by far the most represented. Germany's Bundesliga, on the other hand, is the only one of the five that fails to top an individual position group with the most used youngster at least once.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, 1999-born AC Milan starlet Gianluigi Donnarumma tops the goalkeeper list after playing 100% of his team's Serie A minutes this season. He isn't alone, though, with Alban Lafont, also born in 1999, playing 100% of Toulouse's minutes in Ligue 1.

Athletic Bilbao's Unai Nunez is the only centre-back born in 1997 or later to have played 100% of his team's league minutes this season, but Joris Gnagnon of Rennes is close behind on 99%.

Where full-backs are concerned, Kelvin Amian of Toulouse and Aaron Martin of Espanyol have each played 100% of their club's league minutes this season. Pablo Maffeo, on loan at Girona from Manchester City, has also impressed with 87% of minutes in La Liga.

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In midfield, Lyon's Lucas Tousart tops the defensive side after being used for 97% of minutes, while Carlos Soler of Valencia is the most used young attacking midfielder on 94% of minutes.

England's Premier League has been a haven for young forwards. Richarlison tops the standings after playing 94% of Watford's minutes, while Tammy Abraham has played an almost equally impressive 91% of minutes for Swansea. From Ligue 1, Bordeaux's Malcom splits them on 92%.

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin (73%) and Marcus Rashford (71%) from Everton and Manchester United respectively both also feature in the top 10 alongside the likes of PSG's Kylian Mbappe (72%) and Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic (86%).

Table Shows 4 Most Used Players Per Position:

Position Most Used Players Born in 1997 or Later
Goalkeepers Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan - 100%),
Alban Lafont (Toulouse - 100%),
Francis Uzoho (Deportivo - 18%),
Luca Crosta (Cagliari - 8%)
Centre-Backs Unai Nunez (Athletic Bilabo - 100%),
Joris Gnagnon (Rennes - 99%),
Felix Uduokhai (Wolfsburg - 83%),
Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig - 82%)
Full-Backs Kelvin Amian (Toulouse - 100%),
Aaron Martin (Espanyol - 100%),
Pablo Maffeo (Girona - 87%),
Nordi Mukiele (Montpellier - 85%)
Defensive Midielders Lucas Tousart (Lyon - 97%),
Nicolo Barella (Cagliari - 95%),
Rolando Mandragora (Crotone - 92%),
Dennis Geiger (Hoffenheim - 68%)
Attacking Midfielders Carlos Soler (Valencia - 94%),
Amine Harit (Schalke - 81%),
Faitout Maouassa (Rennes - 66%),
Fede Valverde (Deportivo - 62%)
Forwards Richarlison (Watford - 94%),
Malcom (Bordeaux - 92%),
Tammy Abraham (Swansea - 91%),
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund (86%)

For the full Top 10 tables visit CIES Football Observatory

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