02 September 2022

Premier League squad retention – Forest the most changed from last season

02 September 2022

Nottingham Forest have ended the summer transfer window with the lowest squad retention rate in the Premier League, PA analysis reveals.

Forest have retained players responsible for just 47 per cent of minutes in the Championship last season, with six of their most-used 11 having moved on.

On average, Premier League clubs have held on to players who accumulated 80 per cent of playing time in 2021-22.

(PA graphic)

While much has been made of the new arrivals at the City Ground, Steve Cooper has seen 22 of last season’s first-team players depart.

Several key men from Forest’s promotion campaign – such as Djed Spence, James Garner and Philip Zinckernagel – were on loan, while others, including goalkeeper Brice Samba, chose not to renew their contracts.

After Forest, Wolves have the next-lowest retention rate in the top flight (66 per cent) ahead of Chelsea and Southampton (both 69 per cent).

High churn at Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku and Antonio Rudiger were among the high-profile departures from Chelsea this summer (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)

Chelsea’s deadline-day purchase of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw them move further ahead of Manchester United as the Premier League’s biggest spenders.

The Blues spent more than £250million on new players, partly in response to the departure of first-team regulars from last season.

With Antonio Rudiger signing for Real Madrid, Romelu Lukaku returning to Inter on loan, and Marcos Alonso set to join Andreas Christensen at Barcelona, Thomas Tuchel’s side lost almost a third of their league minutes from last season.

Man Utd keep the faith

Cristiano Ronaldo will remain at Manchester United after a summer of speculation about his future (Kieran Cleeves/PA) (PA Wire)

Despite finishing with their lowest Premier League points total, Manchester United are one of just three top flight clubs – alongside West Ham and Brentford – that held on to their most-used 11 from last season.

The rumoured departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Aaron Wan Bissaka from Old Trafford never materialised, although Erik ten Hag has seen the back of nine fringe players who featured in the league in 2021-22.

West Ham and Liverpool have the highest overall retention rates in the Premier League, with both clubs keeping hold of players responsible for 91 per cent of minutes from last season.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp can call upon 20 of his 21 most popular picks, with Sadio Mane the only notable absentee.

(PA graphic)

All change at EFL clubs

Squad retention rates tend to fall dramatically outside the Premier League, with Bristol City and Bolton the only EFL clubs to have kept hold of their most-used 11 from last season.

Championship clubs have retained an average of 65 per cent of minutes, compared with 61 per cent in League One and 54 per cent in League Two.

League Two sides Swindon and Gillingham have the most-changed squads in England’s top four tiers, with their retained lists responsible for just 28 per cent of playing time in 2021-22.

(PA graphic)

Swindon have maintained their growing reputation for dispensing with first-team players at the end of each season.

The Robins have lost at least half of their playing time from the previous campaign in each of the past five summers.

Meanwhile, League One Derby are in a similar boat following a turbulent off-season, but their retention rate (38 per cent) is not as low as it might have been without the recent takeover.

Wayne Rooney left Derby before the July takeover, with his assistant Liam Rosenior taking interim charge (Richard Sellers/PA) (PA Wire)

Local businessman David Clowes bought the club on July 1, by which time manager Wayne Rooney had already left and several first-team contracts had expired.

Thankfully for interim boss Liam Rosenior, the club were subsequently able to secure the signatures of experienced regulars from last season such as Curtis Davies and Craig Forsyth.

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