Clubs using foreign talent rather than domestic players has been a hot topic in football for years now, whether those clubs hail from England’s Premier League, Italy’s Serie A or Germany’s Bundesliga.
Whether foreign players hinder the development of younger talent, or whether they actually compliment them and allow a league to get stronger remains a point for debate, but either way, the use of foreign talent in football is one genie that won’t ever be going back into the bottle.
Some clubs are far more renowned than others for using foreign talent, though – some have even been known to field an all-foreign XI. Here are five teams who absolutely love to use non-domestic players.
Even before Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought out Chelsea back in 2004, the London side had become renowned for fielding plenty of foreign talent.
Back in the early 90’s, their side was filled largely with domestic talent like Frank Sinclair and Dennis Wise, but that all changed when Dutch superstar Ruud Gullit was brought in at the start of the 1994/95 season.
Just two seasons later, Gullit was appointed as Chelsea’s new player/manager, and suddenly the club had a far more cosmopolitan feel – international stars like Gianfranco Zola, Roberto Di Matteo and Dan Petrescu began to fill the ranks rather than British players.
By 1998/99, foreign talent was more common in Chelsea’s squad than domestic talent, and in November 1999 manager Gianluca Vialli became the first Premier League boss to field an all-foreign starting XI, with the likes of Franck Leboeuf, Gus Poyet and Tore Andre Flo featuring.
Almost a decade on, things haven’t really changed. Despite sporting arguably the best academy in world football, young British talent still struggle to make a mark at Chelsea due to the amount of foreign talent the Blues prefer to bring in.
In October 2017, for instance, it was reported that foreign players had played in 90.4% of minutes for Chelsea – the highest total of any team in Europe’s ‘big four’ leagues at that point in the 2017/18 season.