As football has become more and more money-driven with every passing year, top clubs have tended to deploy less youth players than they did in the past. It has become 'risky for football teams to give chances to unproven teen players when high stakes are involved. So it's no surprise to see ageing world-class teams like FC Barcelona.
However, it isn't unusual for football teams in smaller leagues to use more young players. They invest most of their funds into the development of their top youth players and then sell them to bigger and wealthier clubs.
That has sparked a question - which are the youngest football teams in Europe, and how well are they doing in their domestic leagues? For this study, we have used transfermarkt.com data and looked at every European country's top tier. The full study is available at the bottom of this article.
Top five youngest European football teams in 2020:
#5: FC Nordsjaelland (21.6 years)
The Danish club Nordsjaelland has had a successful season, considering their young team.
Although they were the second-youngest team in the Danish Superliga since transfermarkt.com started collecting data, Norsjaelland managed to finish sixth in a 14-team division. That's the same position they finished in last season when they were, in fact, the youngest team in Danish Superliga since 2004 (21.0 years old).
71% of all Nordsjaelland's goals this season were scored by players under the age of 21. Their top two goalscorers - Mikkel Damsgaard (20) and Mohammed Kudus (19) - are leaving Nordsjaelland for a cumulative transfer fee of €15.5 million next season. Both will rank in the top-three most expensive departures for Nordsjaelland.
In 2012, Norsjaelland won the Superliga and qualified for the Champions League group stages. They played against the then champions Chelsea, Juventus and Shakhtar. While they didn't see much success, they did earn a creditable 1-1 draw against Juventus.
#4: FC Luftëtari (21.5 years)
Albanian top-flight football team Luftëtari had a miserable season. The Gjirokaster club finished last with only two wins and 14 points in 36 games. Safety from relegation was a staggering 31 points away.
Four years ago, Luftëtari returned to the Albanian top league. A year later, they achieved a top-3 finish and, for the first time in their history, they participated in the Europa League qualifiers.
After losing the first match comfortably to Latvian side Ventspils (0-5), they played out a controversial 3-3 draw in the second leg. They were accused of match fixing because of the unusual shift in betting odds and suspicious defensive work before the final goal in that game.
After the football club's owner Grigor Tavo suffered financial problems, Luftëtari were forced to change almost their entire squad before the 2019-20 season. That was very visible in the difference in the team's average age in the last two years - from 25.9 in 2019 to 21.5 in 2020.
Just a day before their first game of the season, the football club's manager Klevis Dalipi resigned as he wasn't able to work together with the club's board. Klodian Duro immediately took over the job but left after only two weeks. During the season, the football club changed managers two more times.