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More Foreign Stars Leaving EPL Than Arriving

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.

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  1. The Gaffer

    September 7, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    A lot of us seem to forget that Gabriel Heinze was voted Manchester United player of the year for the 2004-2005 season — his first at United and he beat Wayne Rooney to the honor.

    Since then, Heinze has been plagued by injuries and hasn’t been the same since, but I would consider him world-class based on his overall career.

    The Gaffer

  2. dpmorris

    September 4, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    Interesting POV, and I agree that Spain & Italy (all things being equal) would attract players over England. But two things: you can never use “only” and “money” together, and for God’s sake, you’ve destroyed any persuasiveness by calling Gabriel Heinze “world class”. Did you not watch the AC Milan matches? He may have been a fan favorite, but I would have been happy to see him go even before he uttered the word “Liverpool”.

  3. Kartik

    September 2, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Yeah but the very under rated Elano, has come to my club Man City. I didn’t expect a Brazilian of such quality to come to England, since most Brazilians tend to gravitate towards Spain, Italy, Germany or even Eastern European leagues. Actually I am pretty certain we have more Brazilians in MLS than the entire PL has.

    But the general premise of your article is pretty spot on. I think that the English game doesn’t suit some players, and simply because some guys fit in Spain better than England (like Freddie Kanoute) doesn’t automatically mean the PL is so much tougher than LaLiga as some loudmouths on the radio claim. I could in fact make the argument about a few fairly obscure players who did well and held down first team spots in the EPL but came to MLS and hardly ever got a game. It’s difficult to compare leagues, because in many ways they are like comparing apples to oranges. (I’ll have a blog on this point later this week)

  4. Chad

    September 1, 2007 at 8:32 pm


  5. MJ

    September 1, 2007 at 9:01 am

    The term “world-class” is thrown about too often these days, and should be reserved only for players who truly deserve it (Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Cristiano Ronaldo, etc). To call Gabriel Heinze and Arjen Robben “world-class” is a stretch to say the least.

    Heinze is a serviceable defender but nearly all the best clubs in the world have a player just like him on their team. He’s an interchangeable piece to any team who aspires to win the Champions League and their own domestic league.

    Robben is, admittedly, a much more talented (and younger) player than Heinze. Still, he’s not “world-class” yet and a major part of that is he’s never healthy. I’m sorry; you can’t be considered one of the best players in the world if you’re not consistently in the lineup.

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