The oldest Real Sociedad player on the team that beat Elche and placed second in LaLiga on Sunday was Adnan Januzaj of Belgium. The grandfather of that lineup is 26 years old, still very far from turning the corner of his thirties, when a footballer is considered mature. The absences of players like Silva, Monreal or Illarramendi have significantly lowered the average age of the youngest team in the Spanish championship, with 25.5 years, although on Sunday it dropped even further, to 24.1.
But his rival in the Europa League (Reale Arena, 6:45 pm) has nothing to envy him. AS Monaco, third in the French League last season, are the youngest of the five major European leagues at 24.31 years on average. Not even the presence of veterans like the Spanish Cesc eclipses the emergence of young people in one of the most successful teams in the French league.
During the first seven days of the championship, the Monegasque team barely exceeded the 24-year average in their line-ups. According to the CIES Football Observatory, an independent study center based in Neuchâtel, specialized in the statistical analysis of football, AS Monaco is ahead of Bayer Leverkusen (24.64 years on average), Saint-Etienne (24 , 74) or the Stade Brestois (24.75).
Players under the age of 21 account for 14.2% of the squad’s total playing time. Since the start of the season against Nantes, five Under-21 players have played in the top flight: Eliot Matazo (19 years old), Chrislain Matsima (19 years old), Benoît Badiashile (20 years old), Strahinja Pavlović (20 years old) and Myron Boadu (20 years old).
The entry into the club of Paul Mitchell, who was a recruitment manager at Southampton and Tottenham, who discovered talents such as Bale and Kane, and who also went through Red Bull Salzburg, has given more value to the youth squad in football French. With the approval of the owner of the club, the Russian tycoon Dimitri Rybolovlev, and the complicity of the coach Niko Kovac, who did not do too well at Bayern, the sports director lightened a squad of 77 chips, which he left at 27 after 16 months of work, and he opted for a more physical and aggressive football in which young footballers stand out.
The coach has no problem playing with kids, in some cases teenagers, in a club project that the leaders plan for the medium term. Thus, in the Principality team, pearls such as midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni, 21, central Benoit Badiashile, 20 and Christian Matsima, 19, or interior Sophiane Diop, 21, are beginning to stand out.
Along with them are more experienced footballers such as Djibril Sidibé, World Champion with France, the former Alava player Guillermo Maripán, Gelson Martins, transferred from Atlético de Madrid, Ben Yedder, who arrived from Sevilla, or the Russian international Alexander Golovin, called up by the national team for the next matches of the Russian team. He was the scorer of Monaco’s goal in the preseason game he played in Anoeta against Real (2-1), and which was the only red-and-white defeat in the preparation phase.
Among the group of AS Monaco footballers, the presence of Cesc Fabregas (Arenys de Mar, 34 years old) stands out, who assured, in an interview for the Efe Agency that Real, “is one of the favorites to win the Europa League.” Regarding his team, he points out: “Last year we made an important progression”, third in the standings. “This year we have not started very well, but, little by little, we have regained the path of victory. We are excited about the Europa League ”. All, after being eliminated in the preliminary phase of the Champions League, in extra time against Shakthar.