The time when English football was dominant in Europe is since long forgotten, we now tend to dwell on the legacy of the game and are failing to grasp the reality that the Premier League may not be the force it once was. Our inability to consistently compete in Europe seemingly leads to us failing to attract the world’s best players however when we do, it is because they have been disregarded by their former clubs, allow me to elaborate.
Considering the most prestigious signings of the last couple years in Di María, Özil, Sánchez & Fàbregas who are all world class players but have they really been prized away from their former clubs in search of premier league glory, or pushed out the door?
All four players were replaced by what were considered superior players at their times of departure. When Mesut Özil joined Arsenal in 2013 for £42.5 million; Real Madrid invested heavily in youngster Isco for £23 million, Gareth Bale for £85 million & Illaramendi for £34 million, whilst Özil was still a brilliant acquisition for Arsenal, Madrid were looking to sell him. The same concept applies to Di María the following season; when he left for £59.7 million Real purchased World Cup superstars James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos as suitable upgrades, Fàbregas exited a Barcelona side where he could not maintain a starting place resulting in hot prospect Ivan Rakitić quickly filling the void. Moreover no matter how incredibly good Alexis Sánchez is he was not playing regularly in the Barca XI, Sánchez’s £30 million price tag certainly contributed to Liverpool’s £75 million invoice for Luis Suárez whom signed for Barcelona just days later.
All of these players are world class ensuring the Premier League remains a joy to watch, however it does not change the fact they were all improved upon at their former clubs signifying how their sales were likely planned.
Unfortunately the Premier League is just not as desirable to play in as it once was; it was evident in the previous Champions League campaign as English champions Manchester City were dominated & simply brushed aside by Catalan giants Barcelona whilst Chelsea were eliminated by 10 men PSG. These defeats just emphasize the gulf in quality between the English top flight and other top leagues across Europe. The argument that the Premier League is far more competitive making it the best league in the world is flawed, it may be extremely exciting to watch due to its tenacity but the championship is even more competitive and dramatic; it does not however make it a better league. Judging by that criteria the Algerian Ligue 1 should be considered the best in the world as the teams that finished top and bottom respectively were a mere 15 points apart. It is who does well in Europe and recently German, Spanish & French teams do far better than their English counterparts.
It is more than plausible that this is the reason top players no longer desire to play in England; of course one must consider the Messi & Ronaldo factor as top players want to play alongside the world’s best who currently play in the Liga BBVA. So far this summer Jackson Martinez has chosen Atletico Madrid despite several English clubs showing interest, it is likely United will be losing De Gea to Madrid whilst Sergio Ramos has rejected United in favour of a new contract at Real Madrid. Schweinsteiger is a great, astute signing for United but he is hardly in his prime, Firmino & Depay may prove to be fantastic signings but they are still young therefore needing to prove themselves.
Time will only tell as Manchester City look to be struggling in their endeavours to acquire the signatures of Kevin De Bruyne and Paul Pogba. To bring these world class players to the Premier League astronomical prices must be paid much to the criticism from the rest of the country, if English football wants to become dominant once again huge prices must be paid to prevent Bayern, Real & Barca effortlessly attracting and continuously signing the world’s best. The Premier League is just not on the pedestal that it once was – and it shows.