Watch any of the top football leagues around the globe and you are bound to see players countries from all corners of the world. In 2020, the CIES Football Observatory analysed the numbers of foreign players competing in leagues outside their own countries to discover which nation exports the most footballers.
The results of which nation exports the most footballers may surprise you.
England doesn’t initially come to mind when thinking of exporting footballers. In fact, English football imports a number of foreign players, which leads one to believe that the quality of exports (and quantity) may not be that great. However, the CIES’s study found that 451 footballers were exported by England in 2020. Considering leagues in Scotland, the US and Canada, and Australia attract English players and it is easy to see why it is No. 5.
Serbia may be a small country and new on the globe in terms of history as a sovereign nation, but it exports a lot of footballers. Research found that 460 players were exported to other leagues. Top Serbian players playing outside of the country include Dusan Tadic, Serge Milinkovic-Savic, and Luka Jovic.
It is a bit of a shock that Argentina came just third on this list. Considering some of the greats playing their trade in Europe, it feels like there are more Argentines playing around the globe. The CIES found that 753 Argentines are playing outside of the country. The combination of money, playing opportunities, and lifestyle are all part of the lure to leave the South American country to play elsewhere.
Perhaps the most shocking country on the list is France at No. 2. But when you consider the excellent players France continues to produce and export, it is easy to see why they rank second. Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Paul Poga… the list goes on of top-tier players created in France that now play outside of Ligue 1. France has 781 footballers playing outside of its borders.
Brazil exports the most footballers around the globe at 1,202 according to the CIES’s study. For years, Brazilian players have earned contracts abroad due to the reputation of the country for producing skilled players that can create and score goals.