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Best League In The World?

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates his second goal against Zaragoza during their Spanish first division soccer match at La Romareda stadium in Zaragoza, October 23, 2010. REUTERS/Albert Gea (SPAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER IMAGES OF THE DAY)
FIFA have today announced the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or award, and as promised it has revealed just how much England underperformed at the World Cup, but perhaps surprisingly it suggests a power shift away from the Premier League.

In all honesty nobody could say they are surprised to see not one English player nominated for the award. There were easily twenty-three better players at the World Cup, and while Wayne Rooney starred for Manchester United during the first half of the year, his form has drastically deteriorated since.  Rooney aside there have been no other stand-out English players this year.

But it is certainly surprising to see just three players nominated from the Premier League, when you compare it to 11 nominated from La Liga, five from the Bundesliga and four from Serie A. Didier Drogba, Cesc Fabregas and Asamoah Gyan all received nominations, but were there any other players who deserved a mention?

Carlos Tevez and David Silva at Manchester City could perhaps count themselves unlucky not to get a nomination, as could Rafael van der Vaart and maybe even Gareth Bale is thinking he could have sneaked a mention after a stunning year. But them aside I can’t see any other stand-out candidates.

Last year the Premier League made up a third of the nominees with ten players in the final 30 man shortlist. To fall to three in a year certainly would indicate that the other European Leagues have overtaken the England in their ability to attract the world’s best.

 Not necessarily so, because the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona have always had greater pulling power then any English. In truth the only thing that has managed to attract the big names to England has been money.

While Manchester City have been feely splashing the cash, until they make it in to the Champions League they will never attract the worlds very best  to Eastlands, and in the mean-time Chelsea and Manchester United have looked to slow down their investment.

This has lead to the big players looking elsewhere for their moves, and with other European leagues starting to experience the boom that the Premier League created with increasing television revenues; they can easily afford to pull in the big names.

 Next year, I’d imagine the gap to have closed with City’s expected Champions League qualification. This might also encourage the likes of United and Chelsea to dig deep and spend once again, so while this year might have seen the Premier League fall behind in terms of expenditure and big name signings, I can’t see this been the end of the Premier League’s tag as the “Best League in the World.”

What do you think? Is the Premier League losing it’s appeal to the big names?

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  1. Stan

    April 23, 2011 at 1:40 am


  2. Toblerone

    October 26, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Sorry, that should be Bundesliga.

    • wqwq

      October 27, 2010 at 5:42 am

      malouda?! with france going out at which round?! if he was good in epl you should give him the awad in your league..not FIFA

      • Fernando

        October 27, 2010 at 10:11 am

        As far as I know the award is open to any player in a proper football league. The best player at the World Cup was given his award after the final.

        You sound like you work for FIFA.

  3. Toblerone

    October 26, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    The league with the best players: La Liga
    The league with the most excitement: Budesliga
    The league with the best supporters: EPL
    The league with the worst supporters: Serie A

  4. UpTheBlues

    October 26, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Malouda should be on that list.

    • Fernando

      October 26, 2010 at 9:25 pm

      Left him off my rant but Malouda very much deserved a place on the list.

      FIFA really know how to make football a joke.

  5. wxwax

    October 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    @ Fernando,

    Rooney didn’t sweep the domestic awards last season. The Golden Boot went to a man in blue!

  6. wxwax

    October 26, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    I think it’s clear that the Premiership has been in decline for at least two years.

    The reasons are obvious: acquisition debt at Man U and Liverpool, ongoing stadium debt at Arsenal and a frugality campaign at Chelsea. Pretty much nobody else is strong, except for rising star Man City.

    Meanwhile, Inter, Madrid and Barcelona have spent like mad bandits.

    I’m sure an English club won’t win the Champions league for at least the next couple of years. A level of mediocrity has settled in.

    • D

      December 30, 2010 at 10:01 am

      Great post.

  7. Scott Alexander

    October 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    miroslav klose? dani alves? why bother having the award if your going to make the shortlist a joke.

  8. attaturk

    October 26, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Kenny at World Football Daily pointed out that Diego Molito wasn’t nominated. Which is rather shocking…so they didn’t even nominate Argentinian’s with Italian names.

    That must make them worse off than England.

    • Dave C

      October 26, 2010 at 4:15 pm

      Messi is an Italian name.

  9. attaturk

    October 26, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    England isn’t alone in being left out, no Italians either.

    If you have a really bad World Cup…you’re probably out.

  10. Pops

    October 26, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    The writer of this article is such a clown, he isn’t worthy of the 10 seconds it would take me to put him in his place.
    One year. ONE YEAR goes by where English football hasn’t been reaching the standards its set before and you vultures talk nothing but sh!t about how La Liga with its two teams or Serie A with its retirement players have surpassed it.

    • David

      December 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm

      You couldn’t put anyone in their place you clueless mug. Saying that La Liga consists of only two teams shows how clueless you are about football. Valencia were the better side against Man United in both CL games yet you idiots still peddle this myth. Real and Barca are the two best teams in Europe which is why it appears the rest are poor. In fact, Valencia, Villarreal and others are very good teams and compare favourable to the likes of Spurs and Arsenal. I bet you never even watch La Liga unless one of the top two are playing. Typical ignorant Sky Sports-led English ‘fan’.

      The PL teams really are nothing special. You are just a myopic English fanboy and I could go on putting you in your place. Instead I will say go and watch bowls or something as football isn’t for you. Clown.

      • SoccerLimey

        December 28, 2010 at 2:32 pm

        You say “The PL teams really are nothing special” which suggests one of two things. You are unable to understand what you are watching, or that you are a huge La Liga fan who is defending their name.

        I prefer to think the latter is the case. No doubt at all who is the best club side in the world right now, and that is Barcelona. However, we are talking about Leagues here and the OVERALL quality of the clubs. In watching the Barcelona-Real Madrid game, I doubt that any team in England would have given up the ghost as quickly as Real did that day.

        Also, in looking at the Europa Cup tables, both Man City and Liverpool won their Groups without ever turning out their best line-ups. Three of the four English Champions League members won their Groups and to compare the United Valencia game at Old Trafford is just idiotic as it was no more than a training game.

        The EPL is without doubt the strongest League in the world and La Liga is a strong second way ahead of any third place leagues.

        • David

          December 30, 2010 at 9:12 am

          I know fine that we are talking the overall strength of the leagues, and I still believe if the PL and La Liga teams played their corresponding finishers in the opposite league at the end of the season, La Liga would win the majority. The irony here is you want to talk overall strength of leagues, yet for years the English used the top four as some sort of barometer of the strength of the PL, despite the rest of the teams being of a far lower standard (check old UEFA cup records from when England was dominating the Champions League if you don’t believe me).

          How about you go back to the Valencia game at the Mestalla then, when Valencia were the better side and unlucky to lose? Or you could go back a season or two to when Man United were a far stronger team than now, and still couldn’t score a goal past Villarreal in four attempts.

          I also like how you talk about this year’s Europa League, despite the fact Villa have failed to qualify for the group stage proper twice in a row.

          Liverpool had an easy section and still conspired to put in some shocking displays. The likes of Villarreal could easily beat them. Man City are a very good Premiership team so I wasn’t surprised at them (note when I said nothing special I meant compared to the two Clasico teams, not generally). The likes of Man United, City, Tottenham, Chelsea (look at the state of their form, predicted by my brother at the start of the season and he was laughed at) and Man United (will be found out in the CL like last season) and Arsenal are good teams, but nowhere near the standard of Barca and Real. The likes of Valencia, Villarreal, and Seville compare favourably to City, Spurs, Arsenal etc. You just can’t see it as you’re taken in by Premiership propaganda.

          The ‘EPL’ (such a media phrase) is not without doubt the strongest league in the world. Teams like Villarreal, Valencia, Real Mallorca, and Sevilla and Atletico if they sorted their act out would do very well in the Premiership. They appear worse than they are because the top two are so strong.

          Four more points. First, Atletico, who underperformed last season and this, still managed to win the EL last season knocking out two of your English teams along the way (I will admit Atletico were poor in the EL this season as defending champions). Second, Sevilla also won two UEFA Cups in a row in 2006 and 2007. Do you think they’ve suddenly become worse than the likes of Wolves, Blackburn and Stoke? Third, if you honestly think Real gave up easier than most if not all PL teams would then you’re buying into the Sky hype and are completely deluded. Nobody would have lived with Barca that day. Most PL teams would have lost 7-0 or 8-0. Fourth, if you take an average points total of the fourth-lowest team in the PL and La Liga over the last several years, it takes five or so more points to stay in La Liga than it does to stay in the PL. This suggests a stronger league overall.

          In summation, I watch both leagues regularly (As well as others) and the quality of football served up in the PL is often turgid. You sound like someone who believes everything Sky and Andy Gray tell you. No doubt next you will tell me that Barcelona and Real would struggle on a cold night at the Britannia. The rest of Europe is sick of you arrogant English fans, which is probably why you finished last in World Cup 2018 voting. Everyone hates you.

          By the way, I predicted Germany to win 4-1 against England at the World Cup and was mocked. Look what happened…

          Please don’t reply as I am sick and tired of arguing with pro-PL types like yourself whose only aims are to denigrate La Liga and promote the PL. I have argued with your type before, as have many realistic people, and we are sick of your pro-Premier League agenda. I have provided facts in this comment, but you will probably ignore them and state ’25 points between second and third in La Liga last season, shit league LOLZ!!’ without recognising it was an anomaly.

          Just f*ck off as you are a typical English fan and not worth debating with.

        • D

          December 30, 2010 at 9:24 am

          Also, Liverpool did turn out their best line-ups in the EL, mainly because their squad is abysmal, and their two best players have always been extremely overrated (Gerrard and Torres better than Xavi and Villa respectively my arse, but English fans would have you believe it’s true).

          I also like how you mention the United-Valencia game at OT but not the game at the Mestalla, which Valencia dominated. It was only the second game of the section, and still United were dominated. Not bad for a ‘poor team’ eh? Add that to my comments in my first reply and you can see La Liga teams under the Clasico sides are good sides and to call them garbage is shockingly myopic and ignorant.

          You sound like the typical ignorant PL fan. Sorry but it’s true. Don’t respond to either of my replies as you’re just peddling the same weak myths over and over again. Go read and try and learn something.

        • D

          December 30, 2010 at 9:31 am

          For some reason my first reply has not shown up, probably because it was too long.

          When I said the PL teams were nothing special, I meant compared to Real and Barcelona. If those two sides played in the PL they would dominate it as much as they do La Liga.

          I am not typing the whole thing up again, but it basically made reference to needing approximately five points more to stay in La Liga compared the the PL if you take 17th place’s average over the last six or so seasons, Sevilla and Atletico winning the UEFA Cup/Europa League, three times since 2006-2010, and Villarreal performing favourable afainst English teams in the CL throughout England’s dominant years of 2005-2010 (Man United failed to score past them in five attempts). There was more but I am not spending another twenty minutes typing it up just for you and your attitude not to accept what I say anyway.

          I agree with many English fans that La Liga needs to have a collective TV deal, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the teams are poor. The Clasico sides are the two best in Europe so it makes the rest appear like bad teams.

          I watch both leagues regularly and any true football fan would prefer to watch La Liga, it simply has better football with the ball being played on the ground. The amount of long balls teams like Villa, Sunderland, West Ham, Blackburn etc play is appalling.

          There’s a lot of dross in the bottom half of the PL. If we are talking competitiveness then the Bundesliga is probably the best league. Best football, La Liga. Most tactical, Serie A. Most watched, the Premier League. But then X Factor is watched by many people, indicating that quality and viewer figures do not go hand in hand necessarily.

          Please, stop replying. There’s a reason the top players in the world want to play in La Liga. Your league is as overrated as your national team (I predicted 4-1 to Germany before the last 16 game and was mocked by your countrymen).

          I could go on but you will not back down so there is no point.

          • The Gaffer

            December 30, 2010 at 9:33 am

            David, the first comment you posted was blocked because it included swearing.

            The Gaffer

          • D

            December 30, 2010 at 9:39 am

            Apologies for the swearing, I didn’t like him talking to me in his condescending tone. I don’t expect people to agree with me on a site called ‘epltalk’ anyway.

            Could you please edit it and post it?

            To be honest there’s no point arguing with many English football fans as they can’t handle criticism of their own league, but if you find the time you could remove the swearing and post it as I made some good points.


            • The Gaffer

              December 30, 2010 at 9:46 am

              Fixed, and now posted.

              The Gaffer

          • D

            December 30, 2010 at 9:50 am

            Thanks for editing it. I am wasting my time here anyway as this guy and the other guy will never accept any comment or statistic which paints the Premier League in a poor light.

        • D

          December 30, 2010 at 9:45 am

          I have just read your site and you are already calling people like Gareth Bale ‘world-class’ (he’s not).

          Sorry, but you’re the typical myopic English fan.

        • D

          December 30, 2010 at 9:49 am

          ‘and many thought, myself included, that maybe this game would herald the birth of a new era in Real Madrid supremacy. How wrong we all were.’

          Read that from your site, just goes to show that you fall for the hype far too easily and didn’t have a clue.

          I, on the other hand, won a lot of money backing Barcelona at evens and thought they would wipe the floor with Real. Myself and my friends laughed at the people who thought Real would give Barcelona a great game i.e. the likes of you.

          I think that says it all.

        • David

          December 30, 2010 at 9:57 am

          Apologies for the multi-comments. But as I said, you won’t accept any point that favours La Liga over the PL, so there is no point us debating. We will have to agree to disagree as you won’t accept any of it. You have already shown you have selective reading problems and attempt to slyly strengthen your argument by ignoring the Valencia-United game at the Mestalla and concentrating only on the less significant game at Old Trafford.

          It’s a waste of time talking to you. Goodbye.

  11. Tom Hingley

    October 26, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Surely a transition from 10 nominations to 3 is more an anomaly than an overtaking?

    An overtaking would be to go 10, 6, 4, 2 etc. Lets see how many nominations there are next year yea?

  12. Vious

    October 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Premier League far and away

    La Liga is insanely top heavy
    Serie A is solid but just few if any GREAT teams
    Germany is maybe the most rounded

  13. Jose

    October 26, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Gareth Bale? Are you having a laugh?

    • Dave C

      October 26, 2010 at 3:54 pm

      I know…the guy has had a good year, no doubt, but to think he would be anywhere near the World Player of the Year award is insane. Premier League Young Player of the year, maybe…

  14. Dave

    October 26, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Maybe these players excel because the lack of real competition? I mean Messi competes in what? 6 games a year with teams as good as his?

    La Liga is the league of the best players whereas the EPL is the league of the best teams. I’ll take the latter any day over the former.

  15. Fernando

    October 26, 2010 at 11:42 am

    The list isn’t an indictment on the Premier League. The mere fact that Wayne Rooney isn’t on this list is laughable. I’m not a United fan but he swept the domestic awards last year and somehow that’s not enough.

    Add to the fact that Asamoah Gyan somehow made this list based on what exactly? He had a respectable 14 goals for Rennes last year. He took some good penalties at the World Cup so he’s one of the best players in the world??? Miroslav Klose is on the list, he of the horrible season with Bayern Munich. Darren Bent scored more goals then Klose last year.

    Meanwhile Rooney was a one man team and Frank Lampard had his best ever goal scoring season. Where’s Tevez?

    We can all agree Spain has some fantastic players but to say La Liga is better now? That question will always be an open debate.

  16. Patrico

    October 26, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Agree that it’s no surprise. Premier League teams had a terrible CL season, then England underperformed at the World Cup. The players who have stood out so far this season in Premier League to me mostly were not huge stars last season and either didn’t play or didn’t do much in the World Cup.

    Silva and van der Vaart weren’t in the best 11 for their national teams, so how could they be nominated for Ballon d’Or? Bale is too new – the only newcoming talents in the shortlist all made big impacts in the World Cup, like Gyan, Mueller and Oezil.

    In my mind, Tevez and Malouda would be the two players who deserve it who did not make it. But they, and others, will have a chance to prove it for next year….. English teams need to make it further in CL and Europa.

  17. Rob McCluskey

    October 26, 2010 at 11:18 am

    It never was “the best league in the world”. No league should ever be given that label.

    I covered this on Championship Talk, the whole notion of this one top league at one time is a futile and mudane arguement. Sure different leagues go through phases, but the fact is that many people buy into the fact that the EPL is the best league in the world because their marketing team try to market it that way.

    I don’t believe in such a thing as one league having a particular style and all the leagues can have good and bad games. If you’re a fan of football you should just want to watch a good game as opposed to showing affinity to one particular league. I would say there are four top leagues in the world at the moment which have high quality games (EPL, La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga) but you can’t pick one on a whole. I’ve seen good and poor games in all these leagues this year.

    • La Liga is my favorite league ;)

      October 27, 2010 at 10:40 pm

      Brilliant post Rob.

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