The so called “greatest league in the world” has once again been damaged by the ridiculous spending of Spain’s biggest clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona.
In the early 2000s the Premier League had become a true phenomenon, many of the best players wanted to go to play in England and it began to attract huge interest world-wide. The rise of Chelsea, the invincible Arsenal side and the successful Manchester United made every country look to England with envy.
Perhaps the turning point was the new and improved “Galitico” policy in 2009. The signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema shook the world of football. No longer was England the most attractive place for footballers to go.
From 2003 onwards Madrid had signed players such as Figo, Zidane, Beckham and many more. President Florentino Pérez was obsessed with attacking firepower that Madrid’s defence was left wanting. Instead of dominating like Perez had wanted, Los Blancos went through a horrendous baron spell.
Since Perez has been re-elected in 2009 Real Madrid have spent a staggering €729 million euros, including €100million on Gareth Bale, €94million on Ronaldo and €80million on latest signing James Rodriguez.
Barcelona has spent €86million on Neymar and €80million on Luis Suarez in the past two seasons.
Granted the two Spanish giants generate huge revenue, yet the they both still struggle to pay off their debts, Real Madrid are expected to be in €400million debt and Barcelona can only continue to exist due to extremely lenient Catalonian banks.
If we compare this to recent signings of Premier League clubs they continue to be players who would not even start for the Spanish giants. Mesut Ozil to Arsenal needed to be sold to fund Gareth Bale’s transfer; Ozil has yet to sparkle in England and was surplus for Ancelotti. Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas were both sold by Barcelona, both great players in the own right, but supposedly upgraded for incoming Suarez and Ivan Rakitic. Diego Costa had a great season in La Liga last year, but probably again would struggle to start for either side.
How can the Premier League compete? Following Manchester United’s stunning new kit deal, they will certainly have the funds to compete. But trying to persuade a player to move to a city like Manchester, Liverpool and increasingly London does not have the appeal of the life in Spain.
Looking at the Champions League from 2005 onwards, so many of the final round of matches had English sides seriously competing. Now Spain and Germany have a huge presence in the later stages of the tournament. Perhaps this is something to do with the quality of their youth football.
The fast paced and exiting football is great for spectators. But technically it is much weaker La Liga. Players want to improve, not become entertainers. Money does certainly talk when it comes to football.
If the Premier League wants to become a serious contender again, serious investment is going to be needed to increase the quality of youth football to make English players more technically sound on the ball. The FA and the Premier League need to work together so that it will benefit not only the national game, but also greater the appeal of playing in England.