It’s easier to buy a foreign player than to nurture homegrown talent, Europe's top soccer clubs decided.
Foreigners made up 38.9 percent of the 2,744 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, the 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 homegrown players on rosters, Poli said Thursday. Two seasons ago the average was 26.8 percent.
Homegrown players are defined as those who currently on a team they trained with for at least three years between the ages of 15 and 21. Most homegrown players are citizens of the countries they play in.
The Premier League has the highest number of foreign players - 55.5 percent - while France's top league has the highest share of homegrown players - 33.3 percent - the study said.
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 to be released later this month.