Foreign invasion

GENEVA - Europe's top soccer clubs are buying more foreign players and nurturing less home-grown talent.

GENEVA - Europe's top soccer clubs are buying more foreign players and nurturing less home-grown talent.

Foreigners made up 38,9 percent of the 2744 players in the five biggest European leagues last season, up half a percentage point from 2005-06.

The figures were compiled by researchers who studied the 98 teams in the Bundesliga, the Spanish league, the French league, Serie A and the Premier League, said Raffaele Poli, a researcher at the University of Neuchatel in Switzerland.

The five leagues averaged just under a quarter - or 24,3 percent - of home-grown players on rosters, Poli said yesterday. Two seasons ago the average was 26,8 percent.

Home-grown players are defined as those who are on a team they trained with for at least three years between the ages of 15 and 21.

The Premier League has the highest number of foreign players - 55,5 percent - while France's top league has the highest share of home-grown players: 33,3 percent.

Brazilians make up the largest group of foreign players in the five leagues, according to the figures, which will be included in a wider Fifa-commissioned report that will be released later this month. - Sapa-AP

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