Does the Premier League Turn Gifted Players Into More Functional Footballers?
Whilst England fans around the globe take the first tentative steps back towards trusting their national team, my eye was caught not by yet more allegations of poor behaviour from within the England squad but by comments from a diminutive Russian.
Andrei Arshavin has said that after a year and a half in the Premier League he is “more effective but less sparkling” as a player.
This slightly strange quote got me thinking. Is the Premier League a place for technical players? Is it a place where beauty is allowed to flourish?
Arshavin seems to believe that it does not. His comments indicate that his time in England has made him move away from the mesmerising type of play that we saw from him at Euro 2008 and towards a more functional style. And this is at Arsenal, the most aesthetically pleasing of all EPL teams.
At this point it would be easy to say that the Premier League is indeed a less than beautiful place and that it’s probably for the best that players like Lionel Messi and Kaka stay away.
But that would be wrong. It would also be ignorant, for beauty can be found in many different forms and in England we have been blessed with one of the most unorthodox forms of football beauty.
The breakneck speed, the end to end flow and the lack of time and space give the game in this country a frenetic, somewhat skittish appearance. But, much like an impressionist painting, the dashes and the quick brushstrokes do all come together to form a work of often unrivalled magnificence.
We are sometimes too quick to believe what we are told. We are often reminded that Arsenal produce the purest football in the Premier League but who defines what is pure in football?
Surely the purest form of football is that which wins the most for that is the aim of the game. If this is the case then Arsenal perhaps play the most impure football, daring to sully the purpose of the game with needless frivolity.
My point is that there is no right answer to the problems above. Football, like all sports is at least partly subjective in its definition of beauty. Surroundings, desires and personal context all influence what we say is attractive and as these are all fluid concepts, there can be no definitive answer to whether a league is beautiful or not, it all depends on who is asking the question. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
What do you think? Does the Premier League turn gifted players into functional, more humdrum, players, or not? Share your opinions in the comment section below.