As the transfer window for Premier League clubs judders on, the lack of genuine quality coming to England is noticeable.
The big money signings have stayed clear of the Premier League, with the widely perceived over priced Fernandinho being the most expensive signing so far. Whether that price tag relates to the quality remains to be seen.
That’s not to say some quality players have not been added, far from it. Andre Schurrle, Paulinho and Jesus Navas will add something to almost any side they would play for, and Maarten Stekelenburg’s signing for Fulham while not receiving the fanfare it may well have warranted is a purchase which more than makes up for Mark Schwarzer’s defection down the Kings Road.
While the likes of Falcao, Cavani, Neymar and even David Villa have opted against joining the Premier League, a new breed of star is on the horizon.
Wilifried Bony and Ricky Van Wolfswinkel will be virgin names the new and improved commentators and experts will have on their lips at the start of the season, and the record signings of Swansea City and Norwich City respectively will be looking to excite spectators expecting more familiar names would have which tripped of the tongue easier.
Like most things in football, and sport in general perceptions change. The Bundesliga is awash with money and last years European Cup finalists have been adding significantly to their squads. Manchester United have lost out on the signature of Thiago to Bayern and Henrikh Mikhitaryan has chosen Dortmund over Liverpool.
Players will always have their heads turned by Barcelona and Real Madrid, and it is possible that the Premier League could lose more top players to Spain’s glamour clubs before the window closes. Barca have already splashed big on Neymar, and will do so again to reinforce their defence. Real are itching to buy big, and continue to trample the rulebook like only they can when chasing a player.
And while the Spanish and German sides fight over the world’s best talent, a new threat has emerged in the shape of cash rich French clubs PSG and Monaco. PSG have been splashing the cash since Qatar Investment Authority took over in 2011 and with the addition of Edinson Cavani to an already formidable attacking unit, Europe’s traditional powerhouses must be sitting up and taking notice.
Monaco, on the other hand do not yet have Europa League football to offer their big money stars, let alone Champions League. Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho could have had their pick of Europe’s elite, but have settled in on the principality club. They will have the task of taking the Monegasque club back into the big time, and will Dmitry Rybolovlev’s billions to get them there.
Contrast these signings to perennial Champions League entrants Arsenal, who have money to spend but have not, or to Manchester United who have been linked with just about everybody and signed no one. There is a sense of foreboding surrounding United and the Gunners and no one seems to want to make the first move.
Gonzalo Higuain has been moving to the Emirates since the end of last season, but he still has not put pen to paper. The big money signings which the board and Le Boss have promised are taking their time to materialise, compared to other the progress other clubs have made.
United are also finding themselves at a cross roads. David Moyes knows he needs reinforcements, especially in midfield and he knows that he has to put his own stamp on a squad which has been reinvented so many times under Sir Alex Ferguson. Thiago has already knocked Moyes back, and it looks like Cesc Fabregas will do so as well.
A better way of doing it maybe going back to Everton and getting Baines or Fellaini, or both, and then getting others to follow. Moyes will want his first major signing to really send a marker down that United are still the team in England to beat, and the quality is not going to change just because the manager has.
For Moyes, there is still the Rooney situation to work out, and whether he stays or goes will have a bearing on who will come in. This creates added uncertainty which will almost certainly play on the mind of each superstar footballer when it comes to weighing up a move to Old Trafford.
How much is the tide turning towards continental Europe, and away from the Premier League?
We will have a better picture when the window closes, and the answer come May when the trophies are being distributed. The evidence is that so far, English clubs will once again be trailing in the wake of Europe’s elite when it comes to the big players, and the big prizes as there now seem to be more preferred destinations for footballing royalty
What do you make of the Premier League's failure to attract 'big names' so far this summer?
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