With the spending power of France and Russia competing with La Liga and a resurgent Bundesliga, where does that leave the Premier League?
The Premier League has grown used to both current players and potential targets moving to La Liga over the years. Barcelona and Real Madrid are magnets for most footballers – attracting them with the mere mention of their name.
They are football’s equivalent of dream girls, opportunities that once offered are impossible to turn down.
When a club lost out to one of Spain’s big two, there was little supporters could do aside from shrug and accept it.
But last season saw a changing of the guard – with the re-emergence of the Bundesliga and the domestic and European domination of Bayern Munich.
A microcosm of the bigger picture is Mario Gotze’s summer move from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern. Here was a player who had previously spoken of his admiration for Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona. A young man who had said, “In other leagues, you could develop further.”
And yet it wasn’t the league he ultimately changed, just the team competing in it.
So while once the Premier League had one rival country to compete with, now it had two.
That was until Monaco opened their wallet last week and duly bought over £100million worth of talent previously linked with some of England’s biggest clubs.
Joao Moutinho almost joined Tottenham last summer, and for a time there had been talk of the move being resurrected this year. That was until the FC Porto player said he had no intention of going anywhere…and signed for the French side less than a week later.
Monaco’s renaissance also saw two former United targets move to the principality – James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao. The latter was also high on Jose Mourinho’s wish-list in the weeks before he was finally unveiled as Chelsea’s second coming.
With Real Madrid now reportedly interested in Gareth Bale….and Luis Suarez…and long-time Manchester City target Edinson Cavani…could there be anyone left for English clubs to sign?
No one is foolish enough to think money doesn’t play a huge part in many players’ minds. As much as they say they love the game, they also love the paycheques. But while City and Chelsea can still compete financially, it seems they can no longer compete in whatever else it is that wins a footballer’s affections.
The English top flight may not be the ugliest of sisters, but it certainly isn’t the most attractive either. With the monetary muscle of Russian football winning the hand of yet more of the Premier League’s former targets, we may have to get used to being (and signing) the best of the rest.
Although there is another way to think about it: English clubs may not always be signing the biggest names, but at least they know that those who arrive are doing so for the love of our game.
image: © edwin11