Countless articles have been produced, one after another, linking half of Borussia Dortmund’s squad with a transfer to Arsenal. The irony is obvious in that the English side are chronic underachievers, having failed to win a single piece of silverware for eight years and counting, whereas Borussia Dortmund have already established themselves as a European power in their own right by following up their back-to-back Bundesliga titles and a defiant UEFA Champions League run to the final last season by making the marquee signings of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang this summer.
Borussia Dortmund are financially sound. They have raised the wages of all their stars and could shell out as much as 27 million euros for a player. The assumption that a team like Arsenal, or any other club in Europe, for that matter, could simply waltz into Germany and cherry pick any player of their liking on Dortmund’s roster reveals a blatant lack of awareness regarding the balance of power on the European landscape.
The grating arrogance of some of the articles written is truly astounding. Ever since the recent marquee signing of Mesut Ozil, Premier League oriented sites have produced countless articles linking Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan to Arsenal. Premier League fans may be forgiven for thinking that the entire world wants to play in their league, as the league has been a dominant force in Europe over the last decade. Freedom of outside ownership, endless foreign imports and staggering transfer fees ensure that a large number of marquee names have always been present. However, recent evidence suggests that the ‘best league in the world’ claim is highly questionable.
Premier League sides have performed poorly in Europe recently. Aside from Chelsea’s largely luck-induced Champions league victory in 2012, English sides have largely struggled in Europe. Last season alone there were no English participants in the last eight of the competition. Many have written it off as an aberration, but it could still very well be a sign of things to come. While the Premier League might boast the strongest top four clubs in Europe at least on paper, the European performance of these clubs suggest otherwise; Arsenal and Manchester City have regularly underperformed in Europe.
The Premier League can rightfully claim to be more competitive then La Liga due to its unjust distribution of TV rights and the clear cut dominance of the two El Clasico rivals, but it is questionable to claim that is more competitive than the Bundesliga. The German league has had five different winners over the last decade, and the mid-table sides are notoriously unpredictable and are known to be a nightmare for bookies. However, despite the obvious rise of Borussia Dortmund with their back-to-back title victories, the Bundesliga was recently slated by Premier League blogs and followers as a ‘one-horse league’ with Bayern cantering to the title with a 25 point gap. Many attributed the victory to Bayern’s financial dominance and its ability to ‘cherry pick’ the strongest players from its rivals in order to ‘weaken’ them, rather than acknowledge the excellence of Jupp Heynckes and the strength of the same squad the defeated Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the Champions League semifinal tie.