Serie A Clubs Are Ahead Of Other European Clubs In One Area

Serie A doesn't get a lot of attention these days, but some of Italy's top level teams have a weird edge over other European leagues.

Serie A doesn’t get the same attention that it used to anymore, especially when big clubs like Inter, AC Milan and Roma have been losing the Serie A title to Juventus year after year. On top of that Juventus is the only Italian club regularly advancing to the later stages of the Champions League every year. 

As a result, TV coverage of Serie A has shifted to other countries. Because of the TV deals with the Premier League, LaLiga and Bundesliga, a lot of interesting information can slip through the cracks.

Something that may surprise you about Serie A is that a few clubs are ahead of the rest of Europe's top five leagues in one area: loan players.

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Everyone knows Chelsea, and if you’ve been paying any attention to Chelsea in the past few years, you’ll know the club’s loan system is absolutely ridiculous; Chelsea currently has 42 players on its books out on loan.

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Obviously that’s an insane number, and no club should have that many players not being used in the first team, but Chelsea isn’t the only club in European football with a ridiculous loan pool.

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Serie A club,Atalanta currently has 56 players out on loan. Yep, you read that right, 56.

It's the most players on loan from a single club in any European top flight team and 15 more players than Chelsea has out on loan. While most of the loan players are not immediately recognizable, there are three that play for top level clubs: Franck Kessie (AC Milan), Andreas Cornelius (FC Copenhagen) and Bryan Cristante (AS Roma).

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To Atalanta’s credit, the club doesn’t seem to need its loan players very much. The club sits at a respectable sixth place in Serie A, above Roma and three points behind a Champions League position. 

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But Atalanta isn’t the only Italian Chelsea. It turns out, Serie A has a number of clubs with too many players out on loan.

Genoa has 33 players out on loan, Sampdoria has 31 and Torino and Chievo both have 28. Juventus and Inter both would’ve been mentioned but have recalled or sold a number of players recently.

Compare that to the Premier League, where Manchester City and Wolves have 14 players out on loan, Liverpool has 13, Manchester United has five; Chelsea is the obvious outlier. No team in France’s Ligue 1 has more than 11 players out on loan, and it’s the same in the Bundesliga. In Spain, Alaves, Real Madrid and Barcelona have the most — 19, 17, 15, respectively.

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Why have so many players out on loan then? Why not just sell them?

In late November of last year, FIFA introduced a limit on loan players for the 2020 season, mainly because the high volume of players being kept on the books at parent clubs were used simply for an eventual selling profit. It's a term FIFA likes to call "commercial exploitation."

Huge loan pools are doing little to develop the talent of young players but instead just benefit the parent clubs in the long run. On top of this, FIFA is looking to restrict club affiliations with feeder clubs so other leagues aren’t affected heavily by constant player moves.

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Now that Serie A recorded a profit for the first time in over a decade, the league’s clubs should start focusing on internal squad growth rather than turning over youth players for some extra money. Juventus has been dominant for too long, and clubs like Atalanta have more than enough ability to challenge the biggest and most historic clubs in the country.

If you're one of the 56 players not playing for Atalanta, maybe it's time to move on.

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