The First Division club with the most Catalans in the 21st century is called Espanyol

BarcelonaWith two days to go until the end of the first round, there are already 50 footballers born in Catalonia who have played some minutes in the First Division this year. Almost a third of them, 16, will face each other this Saturday in what for several years has become one of the matches that brings together a more prominent presence of Catalans: Espanyol-Betis (4.15 p.m., M . LaLiga).

Although the case of the Andalusian team, the fourth with the most Catalans in the League, can be considered as a circumstantial trend that since the 2019-20 season they have always had a minimum of six players born in our country, in the case of Spanish, this fact cannot be dissociated from its origins and identity. Already from its beginnings, the original Sociedad Española de Foot-ball, as it was founded in 1900 by an engineering student from Barcelona, ​​Àngel Rodríguez, was created as an entity where foreigners were not expected to play. The first, in fact, did not arrive until 1911.

The white-and-blue entity has kept its essence alive and is still the club with the most Catalans of the 21st century. The historical weight that has had and continues to have the youngster as the engine of the first team, apart from the financial limitations, which have prevented some foreigners from being incorporated, have helped to maintain this tradition. Since 2000, Espanyol has used a total of 91 players in the League, a figure much higher than that presented by Barça, 58.

Currently, in fact, the club has 20% of the footballers born in Catalonia who have played at least one minute in the current edition of the First Division: ten footballers. And the number could grow in the coming months, since names like Pedrosa, Villahermosa or Joan García have not yet debuted in this League. Barça and Girona follow with seven effective each, while Betis and Elche remain with six. None of the other 15 clubs have more than two.

Puado, Melamed, Brian Oliván or Edu Expósito are not a coincidence, but the continuation of a historical tradition in Espanyol. “We are a Catalan youth club, because we cannot be anything else. We have to be the team with the most Catalans in Primera”, defended parakeet publicist Toni Segarra in an interview with ARA a few months ago.

The outstanding presence of Catalans in the ranks of the first team of the white-and-blue club has always been a constant. In this 21st century, in fact, an average of 11.9 players born in Catalonia have accumulated official minutes in the First Division, whether they are with the first team, the subsidiary or even the youth team. This average far exceeds those recorded by Barça (8.8) and Girona (7.3), the latter in the three seasons it has played in the elite. In other words, it has been at least 23 years since Espanyol could complete an entire lineup made up of Catalans and still have a substitute left over.

The five seasons in which a club has given the opportunity to play in Primera to a greater number of Catalan players in this century, in fact, have been played by Espanyol. The record, which so far no one has managed to beat, is held by the 18 footballers born in Catalonia in the 2001-02 season. Behind them are the 16 from the 2000-01, 2002-03 and 2010-11 years and the 15 from 2021-22. The highest figure recorded by Barça since 2000 is 14 in 2011-12.

From Tamudo to Puado, passing through Gerard Moreno

Espanyol is also the reference in the current League in terms of goal-scoring: of the 26 goals scored by Catalan players this year, five have the signature of Espanyol players (three by Puado and two by Expósito). the same as Girona and Elche. They are followed by Villarreal, with four, and Barça, with three. More than half of the 14 Catalan goalscorers in the 2022-23 Liga have at some point played for Espanyol, either in the first team or in the lower categories: Gerard Moreno, David López, Pablo Maffeo, Oriol Romeu, Pol Lirola, Àlex Collado and Rubén Alcaraz wore the white-and-blue shirt at some point in their careers. They all have 11 goals in this tournament. It is no coincidence, either, that the top Catalan goalscorer in the history of the League, Raúl Tamudo, was trained at Espanyol.

The Periquita entity, therefore, demonstrates with more than obvious facts a Catalanness that does not need to be claimed, although some sectors of Barcelona have tried to cast doubt on the position adopted by the white-and-blue club following on October 1, 2017. The Process generated certain tensions within the Cornellà-El Prat stands between supporters and opponents of Catalan independence, but Espanyol, to preserve ideological plurality and the coexistence of its too social, always chose to stay away from any political dispute: “For a white-and-blue RCDE Stadium”, defended the parakeet club in a statement where they called for the unity of their fans, leaving aside the his political position. Let no one doubt, therefore, that Espanyol has been, is and will be, at the very least, as Catalan as any other club.


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