Ray Wilkins seems a nice sort of bloke. He had a hugely successful career for club and country, and had spells playing abroad in France and Italy, away from the hustle and bustle of the English Leagues. He has since chiselled out a successful career as a coach at Chelsea.
So he is not the sort of person you would expect to go and criticise another European league. But that is what Wilkins appears to have done in the wake of David Villa’s decision to reject Wilkins’ club, Chelsea, and join the Galacticos 2.0 revolution at Real Madrid along with Kaka, who also snubbed the Blues.
“Do they want the challenge of the Premier League? It’s difficult to play in the Premier League as a foreign player, especially in the first year.
“Are some of these players taking the slightly softer option in going to Real Madrid and staying somewhere where they know and not taking up the challenge elsewhere? I don’t know. I’m just playing devil’s advocate.
“Our league is the best league in the world.”
Now maybe he is comparing Villa to himself, who took the brave move of moving abroad at a time when very few English players left their shores. However I still think his words are a little harsh on Villa and Kaka, after all I don’t think joining Real is the easy option, and maybe he is being a little naïve as to the size of playing for Real.
It is a chance after all to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Chelsea for all their riches, do not have the same reputation, history and heritage as Real. They may in a few years, but their success only really began 10 years ago with the rapid growth of the Premier League, Real’s story goes back much further.
But signing for Real is just the start. In no way are you made just by signing on the dotted line, you have to go and prove to the Madrid fans that you are worthy of pulling on the famous white shirt. Many people have tried and failed to cope with the white hot atmosphere in the Bernabeu. For any player, Spanish or otherwise, it is the ultimate challenge.
Wilkins’ comments will also again raise the age old question of which is the better league – though Wilkins seems sure of his choice. It is an argument you could wage until you are blue in the face.
In terms of raw passion and excitement I don’t think it is any better than in the Premier League. The pace of the game is frightening, you don’t have time to think. It is the ultimate test of stamina and strength.
La Liga is not as frenetic and at times adopts a more considered approach. But that means the levels of skill required to score are higher, this is where I feel La Liga has the edge. In terms of technical ability I think Spain holds the ace, whereas in England you are hustled and harried until you make a mistake, in Spain you will be undone by a piece of magic.