The Premier League has always attracted top players over the years, who have entertained us week in week, week out, year by year.
However, recently, the star names don’t appear to be restricted to a finite number of outfits towards the higher echelons of the division, thanks to the recent eye-watering TV deals.
Where the league once had competitive, yet unfashionable, mid-table outfits, you now get the impression that anyone can just about sign a top class player. Take Stoke for example, a solid club who were hard to beat, though never truly had any top drawer exciting names. Now they have 5 Champions League winners in their ranks.
Revenue from the worldwide broadcasting deals and commercial partnerships give most clubs in this country a boost over continental rivals. Marseille for example, who finished fourth in French league last season, lost their two best players to Swansea and West Ham.
PSV, Dutch champions and conquers of Manchester United in the Champions League this season, lost their captain – Georginio Wijnaldum – to Newcastle United, who only staved off relegation on the final day of last season.
Southampton were only in League One a few years ago, now have a squad full of international stars. Esteban Cambiasso joined the relegation fight at Leicester City last season – the list is endless.
The money in England has just hit a whole new world, completely changing the dynamics of the league. That is why it is such a great product worldwide. Though perhaps it explains the top clubs’ failings in European competition in recent years. But that’s a debate for another day.
Here are the top five examples of ridiculous Premier League wealth…
Perhaps it’s cynical to say Cabaye moved to south London just for the money. Perhaps it’s wrong. Though, it’s unlikely he’s tight for cash.
That is not to say his sole motivation was financial gain, but Crystal Palace’s capture of a French international at a top European club was perhaps the biggest example of the new found riches. A top class player joining a previously (relatively) unfashionable club opened a whole new world of possibilities.
Cabaye had been linked with Arsenal, and was all but certain to win titles with the Parisiens had he stayed. Instead, he opted to move to Selhurst Park to link up with the likes of Joe Ledley.
Reports suggest that both Roma and Atletico Madrid were interested in taking the former Newcastle midfielder on, though the Serie A giants were only able to offer HALF the wage that Palace chairman Steve Parish was offering.
Not to say his heart is not in it, but the fact that the Eagles are even able to throw their hat into the race is simply astonishing and a huge indicator of how powerful these TV deals have made English clubs.
As previously mentioned, Stoke boast a stunning FIVE Champions League winners in their squad!
The summer arrivals of Ibrahim Afellay and Xherdan Shaqiri added to the likes of Marko Arnautovic, Bojan and Marc Muniesa.
Under Tony Pulis, the Potters were known as a bruising side likely to give anyone a challenge. Now, with a change of philosophy and Mark Hughes at the helm, the Britannia outfit are transforming into a vibrant attacking side with a plethora of desirable names in the frontline.
Shaqiri had been at super club Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, who despite their recent struggles are still a huge name. Bojan, Afellay and Muniesa are all products of Barcelona’s La Masia academy system with Champions League medals behind them
It just goes to show, these big name stars from the continent are eager to play on these shores, whoever it is for. Again, perhaps it’s unfair to state financial gain was their primary reason, but the swelling war chests of top tier teams means they are able to propose attractive projects when signing players.
You’d expect Manchester United to have a decent amount of money behind them, but since the instillation of Louis van Gaal at the helm, it really has gone into overdrive.
£250m has been spent in the two years since he took over, with the most mind boggling of deals coming with French side AS Monaco. Radamel Falcao arrived on loan, earning eye watering sums a week for very little in return.
The Colombian, once one of the most feared forwards in the world, scored a woeful four goals in 29 appearances during his one season at Old Trafford. While residing in the North West, the former Atletico Madrid man was reported to have earned £285,000 a week, for 37 weeks. Madness.
A year later, the Red Devils were back in contact with the tax free haven that is Monaco, and signed a relatively unknown teenager in Anthony Martial – for £36.6m. Now, the 19-year old Frenchman is certainly proving to be a wise investment, and it is not to say the money has been wasted as such, but the deal only goes to show how money crazed our league has become.
£36.6m, rising to a potential £58m, for a player who had played less than 50 professional games. That is sort of the age we live in.
This summer, we witnessed Manchester City break loose from their FFP restrictions and splash a whopping £49m on Raheem Sterling, and later a huge £55m on Kevin De Bruyne.
The Sterling deal can’t really be included due to the fact he is English, and that alone brings a premium worthy of its own feature or two. However, signing De Bruyne at £55m was perhaps the biggest indicator that English clubs could be taken for a ride in the transfer market.
The Belgian left Chelsea after making very little impact at Stamford Bridge in a deal thought to be worth around £18m to join Wolfsburg. Just 18 months later, he was back on these shores in a staggering £55m deal.
Now, clearly, the Belgium star is a good player. If not a great one. But the ridiculous rate of inflation to secure his services was presumably because the Bundesliga club knew the vast riches of the former Premier League champions.
Though City’s warchest cannot wholly be attributed to the recent TV deals – more so their Abu Dhabi owners – the deal still showed just how much money Premier League clubs can play with.
If a player the level of De Bruyne goes for that sort of money, imagine the sort of bids the likes of Thomas Muller, Gareth Bale and Neymar would attract.
An example of how the Premier League has always been filthy rich, almost two decades before the implementation of the most lucrative broadcasting deal in sporting history.
The likes of Juninho, Emerson and Fabrizio Ravanelli arrived on Teesside under Bryan Robson as the recently promoted Middlesbrough attempted to create a side worthy of challenging for the title. Even Paul Gascoigne was brought in to add flair and fancy to the previously unfashionable outfit.
It did, of course, end in tears when the Riverside club were relegated in May 1997, but their recruitment policy at the time was an early example of just how ambitious Premier League sides would soon become.
It set the wheels in motion for a new wave of imagination that saw all sorts of eye catching deals follow – Jay Jay Okocha at Bolton, Paolo Di Canio at Sheffield Wednesday and Christophe Dugarry at Birmingham.
Strategies have since developed, but the Middlesbrough experiment really did prove that the underdogs could attract top class players due to the pulling power of the Premier League.