1. Cristiano Ronaldo was, like him or loathe him, the Premier League's most recognisable global star, as well as being its best player. To lose such a blue chip player to its only serious rival for the title as best league in the world is a major blow to the league's status and self-perception.
Related ArticlesWho are football's super-agents?Ronaldo transfer: Q&ASpanish press hail and decry 'CR94'Ronaldo: I've had my time at United'Ronaldo deal struck six months ago'Ronaldo set to earn £556k-a-week2. All three of the world's best players now play in Spain, or at least they will presuming Ronaldo, the reigning world player of the year, agrees personal terms to join Kaka at Real Madrid and Lionel Messi at Barcelona. Players wanting to face the best will, it seems, now look to Spain, not England.
3. Barcelona, the Spanish champions, are also the current holders of the Champions League, while the Spanish national side are favourites for the World Cup as well as being reigning European Champions. Football's momentum is very much with Spain.
4. It may or may not have entered Ronaldo's thinking, but the Premier League's earning potential is way down thanks to a pound weak against the euro and the new 50 per cent tax bracket which most footballers fall in. Both Italy and Spain offer pay in Euros as well as a series of tax breaks, making them more attractive economic options for players and agents.
5. Thierry Henry apart, Cristiano Ronaldo is the only foreign player to have reached a world-class peak in the Premier League, and he has illustrated that he wishes to enjoy his best years at the club he supported as a boy. However powerful the marketing in Asia, the Premier League cannot change the fact that South Americans and southern Europeans dream of the Bernabeu and San Siro, not Anfield and Stamford Bridge.
Five reasons why the Premier League remains in rude health:
1. Ronaldo or not, Manchester United will still be expected to reach at least the semi-finals of the Champions League, where Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea will all fancy their chances of joining them. Barcelona and Real Madrid will be the main obstacles, but no significant challenge is being mounted anywhere else in Europe.
2. Only so many players can sign for Florentino Perez. The Real Madrid president wants a Spanish core, so his attentions may now turn to picking the carcase of Valencia for home-grown stars. That could leave Chelsea, United and Manchester City free reign elsewhere in Europe.
3. Perez will have to sell to fund some of his purchases – or at least the trim the squad – so expect a dozen or so top class internationals, including the brilliant Wesley Sneijder, to grace a ground near you some time soon, unless you live in the North East.
4. The Premier League still boasts the best stadiums, the best facilities and the biggest TV audience in the world. As it proved after the sale of David Beckham, the biggest star the Premier League has ever had, it is the pace and the passion which are the league's selling points, not individuals.
5. Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas, Robinho, Nemanja Vidic and John Terry all still play here. Manchester City are planning to spend their way into the big time. And no other country can boast Rory Delap's long throws.