Just last week I was reading an interview with Richard Scudamore, in which he gave a very bullish response to the question of if the Premier League could resist the approach of La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona when it comes to their star attractions.
Scudamore stated point blank that the finest league in the world – the English Premier League – would have no such problems in fending off such attempts. Even Cristiano Ronaldo this week has come out and stated that the Premier League is a better league than the Primera Liga – you know the very same league he defected to not that long ago in an £80 million switch.
There are of course certain situations where it is as much of a foregone conclusion that a player will move back to Spain and their first club as it is that Fergie time will arrive should United need a goal in the final few minutes at Old Trafford.
Take Gerard Pique or Cesc Fabregas – both enormous talents, and lighting up the Premier League, but always knowing they would go back to their native Barcelona – Cesc in particular was courted for a good couple of transfer windows before finally completing the inevitable move back to Cataluña.
It was not because the players did not love the Premier League or the style of football, or indeed the club they were at – Fabregas was even Arsenal skipper – yet the lure of returning home proved too strong for these players . That is not just true for Spain however, it is seen in a huge number of foreign players – perhaps not to the extremes of a certain golf playing, warming up refusing Carlos Tevez, but players do miss their home land and for the type of player for whom the saying boyhood club does not have quite the same flippant meaning as it does for Robbie Keane if they get the chance to play for their boyhood club it is hardly breaking news to see them go.
Where the Premier League is facing an increasing problem however is with the approaches from the big clubs around Europe for their star players who are not boyhood fans or through the academies of the clubs attempting to buy them. Barcelona have a strong interest in Spurs star Gareth Bale, and if rumours are to be believed will ready a hefty bid for the Welsh youngster in the summer.
It is this kind of bid that we will see in increasing amounts, and as United proved – only clubs with the financial muscle of Chelsea and City can really turn such an offer down – United could not afford to turn down an astronomical offer for Ronaldo, and it would be interesting to see just how Spurs would react to an offer for Bale of huge proportions – especially after turning down Chelsea’s bid for Modric.
Of course, telling a player they cannot move across London to Chelsea is slightly different to attempting to stop them from playing for a European giant such as Barcelona or Real Madrid – the fact of the matter is that despite their wealth, neither Chelsea nor City actually hold a candle to either in terms of trophies won, fans across the world and indeed the aura surrounding the club. There are few who do, and for a vast majority of players, being approached by either of these clubs would be too hard to turn down.
Gone are the days where a player is a one club man throughout his career, and moves are made for a variety of reasons, money at the top of the list usually, yet the allure of a very select number of clubs can also be a very strong pull for players, who may feel that they have not really pushed themselves to the very top of their game unless they can prove it at the biggest club on the biggest stage.
It is different for a player to receive an approach from one of the top two in Spain to even a club like AC or Inter – the Clasico rivals are at the very top of their game right now and have the two best managers and players in the world on either side – to be the best you have to play against the best and this is the opportunity open to players such as Bale should they chose to take it. Not to mention playing with the very best – would you blame a player for longing to play week in week out with the likes of Iniesta and Xavi – I would think they were crazy not to.
In the wake of the Premier League being accused of losing its identity recently, with the physical element being slowly eradicated – taking away what makes it so watchable and unique – couple this with the sheer brilliance and allure of both Barcelona and Madrid could well see Scudamore claims fall apart in the coming seasons.
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