• Fri. Jun 9th, 2023

International talent critical to success, concludes study into 20 years of Premier League results.

May 22, 2023 ,

Comprehensive analysis of the last 20 years of the Premier League in England has definitely proven that international talent is a critical recipe for success. 


This precious data point was a conclusion reached after Global HR company Deel partnered with Senior Football Statistician, Jonny Blain, to analyse the last 20 years’ worth of Premier League results and discover the extent to which international diversity, performance and team success go hand in hand. 

Blain is listed as a statistician with the Premier League on his Linkedin.

The findings reveal a clear correlation between teams’ international diversity and their success – in terms of goals scored, matches won, and final position in the league.

The research analyses the proportion of international players on each Premier League team,
from the 2002/2003 all the way to the 2021/2022 season. 

In comparing these results, Blain established a yearly “international talent benchmark”, i.e. the average proportion of players each year across the twenty teams who were international as opposed to homegrown.

Using that benchmark, Blain has been able to illustrate the extent to which global diversity has correlated with success. 

The conclusion? Internationally diverse teams overperform.
● 15 of the last 20 Premier League winners – and 12 of the last 13 – were above that
season’s benchmark for international talent.
● In 19 of the 20 seasons in the study, the average number of wins for teams above the
“international talent” benchmark exceeded the average number of wins for teams below
the benchmark.
● The team with the highest proportion of international players in a season was Arsenal,
with 96% in 2006/07. They ended that campaign in 4th place. In fact, in every year in the
study when Arsenal finished in the top four, they over-indexed for international talent,
including winning in 2003/2004, when 77% of players were international.

Commenting on the results, Blain said, “International talent has played a major part in the success of the Premier League’s greatest teams in the last 20 seasons. 

“From the goal scoring prowess of Manchester United’s regular title winning teams under Sir Alex Ferguson, to the virtually invincible squad built by Arsene Wenger in 2003/04, international players have been at the forefront of those and many more achievements in what most believe to be the greatest league of all.”


Deel and Blain’s study found that over the past 20 years of the Premier League, 6,922 of 10,590 players have been international – at 65%. 

That figure peaked in the 2013/14 season at 69.7%.

However, the proportion of international players to make at least one appearance throughout the season was at its lowest in the first four campaigns – suggesting teams are becoming increasingly diverse.

Overseas players have also been largely responsible for putting the ball in the back of the net.

Across the last 20 Premier League seasons, international players have always scored the majority of goals. Overall, the percentage of goals scored by international players is 64.8%. 

This rate peaked in the 2018/2019 season at 72%, and never fell below 59%.

For Premier League title winners, the trend is even more pronounced. 

In 19 of the 20 seasons studied, the proportion of goals scored by international players for the eventual winners wasabove the benchmark in that campaign. 

The highest proportion of goals scored by international players in a title winning team, over the course of the last 20 seasons, was 94.1%, achieved by Manchester City in 2013/14. 


This was closely followed by Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ with 93.2% in 2003/04.

In the last 20 Premier League seasons, 24 players* have been awarded the Golden Boot, a prize for the season’s top scorer. Of those players, 83% (20) have been international players. 

The only exceptions are Harry Kane, who won on three occasions, and Jamie Vardy (photo below), who won once.


Frenchman Thierry Henry has won the Golden Boot on four occasions, more than any other

Furthermore, only international managers have won the Premier League since its inception, proving that the importance of international talent extends to senior leadership. 

Scottish managers Sir Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish have lifted the trophy, but no winning managers have comefrom England or Wales.


Commenting on the research, Alex Bouaziz, co-founder and CEO of Deel said, “I’m a die-hard Paris Saint-Germain fan, but I’ve always loved watching the Premier League and one of its greatest features is the sheer array of global talent. 

“In sport and beyond, borderless hiring from a truly global talent pool gives employers the ultimate opportunity to bring a diverse set of skills and experiences together into one high-performing team.

“Some of the greatest teams in the world owe their success to international talent. Football is the perfect example, but we see it across other sectors too. 

These results confirm my (and Deel’s) belief that there is a correlation between global diversity and team success.”


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