Another summer transfer window has come and gone. Last August, we were salivating at the prospect of all of those Italian World Cup heroes coming to play in England for large amounts of dosh. Most of them were players from Juventus, yes, but we were told there would be an exodus. There wasn’t.
This past transfer window that just concluded had the same hype about it. Names were tipped such as Ronaldinho, Riquelme, Adriano, Alves, Villa and many others. None of them arrived.
Instead not one foreign superstar joined an English club this transfer window from a club outside Britain. The closest we got was Elano from Shakhtar Donetsk to Man City (hardly a star, but a great signing indeed) and Juliano Belletti from Barcelona to Chelsea (an aging right back).
Leaving England for foreign shores were too world-class international players: Arjen Robben and Gabriele Heinze. While both players have been plagued by injuries, they were untouchable in the Premier League when they were on top of their game.
Coincidentally, Robben and Heinze have both headed to Real Madrid — the club that bought the biggest foreign star to leave England during the August 2006 transfer window: Ruud van Nistelrooy.
While England may feature the world’s most popular sports league, the Premier League isn’t as appealing to star players as Spain and Italy. Part of the reason is the style of play in those countries where players have more time on the ball and matches, for the most part, feature more skillful moments. The other part is the foreign stars feel more at home in a mediterranean country than England.
The only thing that can bring in more foreign stars from outside Britain is money. And even money doesn’t guarantee anything.