As English and Spanish clubs continue to compete for some of the world's finest players, who will come out on top this summer?
The bigger picture often goes unnoticed when football fans are more interested in their own club’s dealings than transfers in general. But this season more than any other, England’s top flight hasn’t only faced competition for potential new signings from Spain, but from France, Russia, Germany and Turkey as well.
And yet the rivalry between La Liga and the Premier League remains as strong as ever – with some of the summer’s biggest and most anticipated deals leaving one country – or at least one country’s clubs – happier than the other.
La Liga dealt the first major blow, getting Isco ahead of Manchester City despite numerous reports to the contrary.
For a time the former Malaga playmaker appeared nailed-on for a move to the Etihad. Only to reveal that a simple flutter of the eyelashes from the Bernabeu hierarchy and his mind was made up.
“I had offers from other clubs in Europe,” he said, “but it is impossible to say no to Real Madrid.”
Such is the power of some clubs. But is it also the power of some leagues?
That the two best players in the world both ply their trade in La Liga certainly suggests so. That arguably the world’s best striker – Radamel Falcao – chose to leave for a newly-promoted if flush French club suggests otherwise.
Sometimes it is about the club, sometimes the country, and sometimes – too often perhaps – it is about the money.
Manchester United may go some way to deciding who wins this summer’s transfer battle between the two leagues. Should they sign Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona, it will be a move on a par with Isco’s. The two are among the best of Spain’s next generation.
The return of Cristiano Ronaldo would have been a knock-out blow. But his most recent comments suggest he intends to stay. Although with the Portuguese, his definition of the future is sometimes measured in weeks rather than years.
Stoke City’s signing of Barcelona B defender Marc Muniesa on a free transfer, and Liverpool’s double-swoop for Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto, suggest the Premier League will contain plenty of talented young Spaniards schooled in their homeland but allowed to blossom in England; while Jesus Navas is said to have rejected Real Madrid in favour of a move to the Etihad.
With the transfer window only just open, there will be numerous dealings that ultimately determine if La Liga or the Premier League come out on top.
And perhaps in the case of many of those younger signings, it will be years before the full-scale of the win is revealed.
image: © fdecomite