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This Summer May Be A Bad One For The EPL


Will it be another Spanish summer? Or is there hope for England yet?

No, I’m not talking about winning the World Cup; instead I’m talking about the glamorization of La Liga more and more at the expense of the Premier League.

With the three biggest summer signings wrapped up or to be soon (David Villa and Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona, Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid), the likelihood of an electrifying superstar coming across the Channel looks increasingly remote.  Instead, it looks all the more likely that Cesc won’t be the only departure.

Granted, Chelsea and Manchester United will probably not lose any crucial players, meaning the EPL’s best teams will not get worse.  But it is not clear that they will buy the classiest of reinforcements, especially as the Chelsea management has indicated a greater role for youth players next season.  Manchester United will surely look to strengthen the thin front line that arguably cost them the title this season, but again, it is not certain whether this means simply a back-up striker who scores more consistently than Berbatov, or a genuine hitman to partner Rooney up top.

The other probable bright spot in England’s summer is Manchester City, who can splurge on world-class and create a truly competitive squad.  If they can successfully exploit Liverpool’s financial weakness and the precariousness of Tottenham’s Champions League place, they will surely compete in the 2011-12 edition of Europe’s most prestigious club competition.

But who will they acquire?  Liverpool might have to offload some of the Mascherano-Gerrard-Torres spine, but the Reds will be hesitant to sell world-class players to teams who are directly competing with them for a Champions League spot.

Reports suggest Mourinho wants Gerrard at his new project in Madrid, and should the legendary skipper bail on Anfield, Florentino Perez certainly has the cash to bring him to the Bernabeau.  Besides, everyone else in Europe wants Torres and Mascherano.  Further, the Argentine has been suggesting he wants to leave since last summer.  Unless Manchester City or another club really overpay for them, these stars, if sold, probably will not end up in the EPL.

Robinho probably will not end up in England because the Citizens can afford to offload him at a cut price to a continental team that will not threaten their league ambitions.  Unless, of course, Robinho has a superb World Cup and can convince Mancini to let him stay on to complete the Man City revolution that he started nearly two years ago.

Realistically however, the biggest stars who might end up in England are a few of Spain’s stars and some of the Italian Serie A’s best young players.  Who are these would-be EPL protagonists?

Atletico Madrid’s Sergio Aguero is the only legitimate superstar who has a good chance of going to England.  Chelsea have been linked with him, Man City would surely buy him (because, why not?), and as mentioned above, Man United would love two world-beating forwards with which to terrorize both Europe and England.  His price might put off everybody but the Citizens, however.

Valencia have a duo in Ever Banega and David Silva who would be welcome in any team, but it remains to be seen how willing the leadership at the Mestalla is to sell after losing their offensive pillar in David Villa.  Plus, as good as the two are, they are not world-class just yet.  A big move to truly competitive teams might see them hit that level and affirm their potential though.

The Serie A has a host of young stars in players like Pato, Hamsik and Kjaer – arguably the future of their respective positions – and it is possible that some will be sold this summer.  Hamsik has a prohibitive price of 40 million euros on his head, Kjaer claims he wants to stay in Palermo but will most likely end up elsewhere in Italy, which leaves Pato.

“The Duck” might fancy a reunion with Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, but as Milan rightfully view him as their future, I am not so convince they’ll ditch him for a price Abromovich is willing to pay.  As usual, City can splash out enough to pry any of these players away, but it remains to be seen if they leadership really feels the need for another Mardid-lite summer spree.

Ibrahimovic might also leave Barcelona (as a swap for Cesc, perhaps), but given the huge amount the Catalans paid for him, I believe he will stick around to earn his price tag for at least another season.  Plus, crucial goals against Arsenal and Real Madrid to name two showed he is not a complete flop, just not worth the ludicrous amount Barcelona invested.

And so that leaves the Blancos’ rejects, possibly including Kaka, Benzema, van der Vaart, and maybe their superstar Gonzalo Higuain (who, in a warranted complaint, wants a new contract of greater value).  Further, Mourinho recently praised both the Frenchman and the Brazilian, suggesting he wants to try  bringing out the class that made Madrid pay big bucks for the duo last summer.  Unless Real Madrid again decide to ridiculously unload world class talent, in 2010-11 we might be witnessing the same class of EPL stars as last season, if not a class-act or two fewer.

While the EPL is still one of the strongest leagues in the world, the distance between it and the top (La Liga) will probably grow this summer, not to mention the cause for greater concern: that the distance between it and the “lower” Italian and German leagues may actually shrink.

And so, even those who dismiss Arsenal’s, Chelsea’s and Manchester United’s premature exits to Barcelona, Inter and Bayern Munich respectively as flukes, this summer might go some way to making it more than just a blue moon affair.

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  1. steven

    June 29, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Alex you do have a point.. but i still feel the epl is the better league. i can also take big names from outside the top two of the epl and there would easily be 2 to 3 times as many players of equal if not better quality to the players outside of the top two in spain.. i do think that a lot of epl fans underestimate la liga tho.. i love them both.. both have amazing football

  2. Sebastian Shepard

    May 25, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    I think Alex has a solid point. People who think La Liga and Serie A only draw talent to two teams whereas the EPL draws it to 7 or more need to pay closer attention to the continental leagues. Players like Palermo’s Javier Pastore and Edison Cavani, like Bilbao’s Muniain and Llorente are highly regarded by those who follow their respective leagues, much in the same way that players like Ashley Young, James Milner, or Jack Rodwell are.

  3. Eious

    May 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Even if LaLiga gets the coaches/players, I am not sure it really diminshes or bashes the Premier League

    The talent and speed in the PL is still tops if not close to tops in the world. That won’t change.

  4. Ben

    May 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    I really hate the Liga, this league is way way overrated, even the MLS is better. nothing beat the EPL, the best league in the world,

    • Joe

      May 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm

      None of them are, the best is Serie A as the best club in Europe (*cough*Inter Milan*cough*) play in that league.

    • UpTheBlues

      May 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm

      MLS? *rolls eyes*

      • jose

        May 25, 2010 at 9:04 pm

        up the blues, i would roll my eyes too but at least in mls there is more competition then a two horse race in la liga. now that is boring.

  5. Phenoum

    May 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Who told you Cesc was leaving? the F$%ing spanish press? Because Barcelona hasnt said a #$%ing thing to Arsenal about it – and you’re going on spreading news like it’s a guaranteed thing. All of you lie-spreading journalists should be ashamed of yourselves.

    • vermaelen5

      May 26, 2010 at 6:55 am

      Oh my God. THANK YOU Phenoum! This man clearly doesn’t realize that two football clubs, NOT newspapers, make transfers. JEEZ!

  6. Martin

    May 25, 2010 at 10:02 am

    After Liverpool lose Torres and/or Gerrard and yet again finish out of the top 4 next year, can we please stop talking about them along with the likes of the best teams in the Prem? I get the history, but might be time to accept the dawn of a new era, especially if they lose those guys.

    • UpTheBlues

      May 25, 2010 at 10:16 am

      I think Citeh will effectively replace them this year.

  7. V

    May 25, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Why do people think La Liga is a better league than the EPL? La Liga is a two horse race, with the rest of the horses still at the starting gate. Of all the La Liga games I watched this season Barcelona and Real Madrid were the only world class teams I saw. Arguably there are probably a good 3-4 teams that can have world class performances in spurts, but the quality outside of the top 2 is not consistent. The EPL however has world class quality in the top 7-8 teams, with another 5-6 teams that can provide world class performances at times. In my honest opinion, outside of Barcelona and Real Madrid, La Liga don’t have the draw for world class players.

    • Alex

      May 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm

      This season the rest of La Liga teams were adjusting to the power and brilliance of Madrid and Barca hence the skewed points between those 2 and the rest. Honestly did you see every La Liga game to pass judgement on the quality of the other teams? Ever heard of Banega, Silva (Valencia)? Javi Martinez, Llorente, Iker Munian (Bilbao)? Canales, Munites (Racing Santander)? Forlan, Kun Aguero, Reyes, Simao (Atletico Madrid)? These are some genuine world class talents being pursued by some of the biggest clubs in the world. Tell me who won the Europa League this season..right.

  8. Poker Rakeback

    May 25, 2010 at 8:34 am

    I don’t really know what you’re trying to say. It is true that the 2 big guns in spain can now probably attract any players they want ahead of any other club. However, after that i don’t think the top 4-5 teams have nothing to worry about. The rest of the teams in spain are a world behind in both glamour and spending power and points this season. It seems spain is going more like scotland every day with the top two way out in front.
    Italy is a bore to watch and nowhere near as appealing as playing in the prem so where are all these players that your so worried about leaving going to go? Barca and madrid can’t buy everyone, they’re rich but they are not that rich and why would you want 40 players anyway, you can only put 11 on the field. Barca and madrid will get who they want and the rest will stay where they are.

  9. Paul Bestall

    May 25, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Additionally, La Liga is about to re-invent itself on the Premier League template, which will increase its pulling power on a world wide level.

    Yet, other than Barca and Real, virtually every other team in Spain is almost bankrupt, it is crucial that they sort out the finances before the clubs begin to fall like a pack of cards.

    • Tyson

      May 25, 2010 at 10:22 am

      It’s worth noting Spain has 25% unemployment and is probably going the route of Greece. When your unemployed you cant exactly afford to go to football matches. The reason Real Madrid and Barcelona are immune to this problem is because there are so many fans for both clubs even if a lot of them are unemployed others can take their place in buying tickets.

      Spain is in serious trouble this is why La Liga is spending so much money. During hard times the romans would put on games to take peoples attention away from famines or economic problems. Their essentially doing the same with La Liga being a distraction from an economy with some of the worst unemployment on the planet.

    • jose

      May 25, 2010 at 8:59 pm

      paul i love the epl more then any league but lets not talk about bankrupt, besides arsenal not to many clubs turn a profit because of their spending including my beloved united. damm those glazers.

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