Beginning in December of 2008, rumors filled the web with information on Manchester City’s supposed done deal in signing Kaka from AC Milan, which at that time (before CR9’s transfer) would have made him the most expensive player ever with City offering 100 million pounds. AC Milan and their executives were sold. It was all up to Kaka now. It seemed done and dusted. But it wasn’t to be. Kaka stayed in Milan for another six months. He would eventually be sold for a lesser amount of money to a club coming off a shocking season, Real Madrid. Since his move to Madrid, Kaka has stated that it was Manchester City’s lack of winning history that ultimately turned him off from a move to the Premier League. But it couldn’t have had just been that now, could it? If we look at recent history and at present transfer rumors, more and more non-British football players (the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Andrea Pirlo, Ribery, etc) are seen stating their preference to playing in La Liga rather than the Premier League.
Players sometimes will even put up with a loss in their wages, transfer fee, even competition to make known their desire to play in Spain. Kaka was eventually sold to Real Madrid at a lesser price than Manchester City offered. Cristiano Ronaldo has enjoyed two seasons as arguably the world’s greatest player, making two consecutive Champions League Finals appearances, but has opted to join a team that has lacked Champions League success recently. Andrea Pirlo has come out and said that he would rather play for Atletico Madrid, a team that hasn’t won a major trophy in recent years with possible exception to the Intertoto Cup in ’07, than Chelsea (the same Chelsea team that has won 7 trophies in the last 5 seasons and nearly won the Champions League a year ago).
When someone thinks of the best players that were established stars at the time they signed in La Liga a few names come to mind: Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo, Messi. Just those few are arguably some of the greatest players the game has produced in recent history. On the other hand, when someone thinks of the best players to ever have played in the Premier League, what names come to mind (I am talking specifically in the modern era late 90s to present)? Zola? Cantona? Fernando Torres? Top class player to be sure, but far from legendary (at least outside of their respective club’s supporters groups).
As history proves, for some reason the world’s top players, more often than not, prefer the luxuries of Spain over the recent success of English clubs, which at least has more than two teams consistently challenging for the league title. Why this is, we may never know. Maybe it’s the women. Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe England is the United States equivalent in Europe; many outside of England lack respect for the country (you know Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini do).