Disturbingly high squad numbers have been part of top level football for a few years now and squad numbers as high as 99 are seen around Europe. The Premier League isn’t immune from such abominations with numbers in the 40s regularly sighted in stadiums throughout the UK. With this in mind I thought I’d take a look at the biggest culprits from Europe’s “Top Five Leagues”: Serie A, La Liga, Premier League, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga. The figures come from this season encompassing all domestic league fixtures that have taken place in the five leagues from last summer until the start of December.
The worst culprit for squad numbers in the 90s is Serie A. There are seven players in the Italian top flight who have sported the number 99 shirt for their club this season. To give this some context the highest numbers to feature in the other leagues were Premier League (62), La Liga (54), Bundesliga (44) and Ligue 1 (40). Niklas Bendtner is the only player to feature as two clubs highest squad number (52 for both Arsenal and Sunderland).
It’s big-spending Malaga (I believe I’m contractually obliged to call them that) in La Liga who have used the lowest squad numbers so far this season. Their highest squad number was used by Venezuelan striker Solomon Rondon who wears the mind-boggingly low number of 23. The German club with the “lowest highest” squad number used so far this season is Koln’s Odise Roshi who wears number 28, and in Serie A it’s Ceppelini of Cagliari and Matri of Juventus who both wear the number 32 shirt for their respective clubs.
The above stats show the average squad number fielded per side during the current campaign. It’s Bologna in Italy who show the worst average in the top European leagues with an average squad number of over 33. German giants Bayern Munich are the only side outside of Italy to break it into the top ten of “worst offenders”. Sevilla in Spain are the side with the lowest average of 10.702. Unsurprisingly no Italian sides make the “lowest” top ten.
There are many reasons to criticise the Premier League brand, but in the field of squad numbers they aren’t pushing the decency boundaries as much as the Bundesliga or Serie A. It is the Italian league that has shown least regard for the traditional 1-11 so far this season.