Does Paul Pogba's transfer show the Premier League finally attracts the world's greatest players?
The biggest transfer saga of the 2016 summer window is without a doubt Paul Pogba and his potential move to Manchester United. At the time of writing, the deal looks set to go through but hasn’t been officially confirmed by either party, but whether the French midfielder does come to United or not brings us on to another important and often discussed question.
Can the Premier League attract the world’s best players?
There is no doubting the serious quality on show in the Barclays Premier League, with great teams such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Leicester City to name just a few.
There are plenty of highly talented, sought after players on the books of the top English clubs with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sergio Aguero, Eden Hazard, Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez.
However, the quality of the league and the standard of play has never been what has been thrown into doubt, it is the Premier League’s lack of so-called world elite players that the likes of Bayern Munich, PSG, Barcelona and Real Madrid are able to attract.
Fine examples to support the doubters theory are Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale. Now playing at Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively, both players are world superstars of the game and are widely considered to be in the top 10 list of the world’s best players right now.
The Premier League used to have both forwards playing week in week out, but Liverpool could not keep a hold of Suarez and likewise Tottenham lost Bale to Los Blancos in a world record transfer fee.
Both the Uruguayan and the Welshman reached the peak of their powers in England, and were then effectively too valuable for the Premier League and the two Spanish giants swooped in to take them to La Liga.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a very recent example that counteracts the argument, with the Swedish talisman joining Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United this summer from French champions Paris Saint-Germain.
However, it is worth pointing out that despite Zlatan’s star quality and incredible goal-scoring rate, he is now 34 and is firmly in the Autumn of his career, so is hardly at the peak of his powers.
This debate does have its subjectivity, with who falls into the category of the world’s very best player being the biggest one of them. Paul Pogba’s proposed move to Old Trafford would see the Frenchman become the world’s most expensive football player, but I don’t think many would class Pogba as one of the world’s elite – not yet anyway. He could easily become so under Mourinho’s stewardship at Manchester United, but there is no guarantee that this would not result in a summer move to the likes of Real Madrid.
Therein; I believe, lies the consensus to the question at hand.
As mentioned earlier on, there has never been any doubt about the quality of the Premier League, with unpredictable, competitive games, a quality physical style of play and world football stars gracing the pitches week in week out.
However, the world’s very best players tend to play at other European giants, and I think the Premier League is a victim of its own success in attracting the absolute top drawer of football stars.
As the Premier League is such a competitive league with many top teams; a situation which has just become even more unpredictable due to the new TV rights deal giving smaller clubs more money, there is no true dominant force in England like there is in France, Germany and Spain with usually just two or three teams in the title race, crushing the rest of their opposition.
Why is that relevant, you may ask. Trophies is the pure and simple answer.
The world’s very best will often at some point in their career want to be in a dominant team so they can scoop up a load of accolades and titles, and perhaps make themselves look even more impressive against weaker opposition.
As no team is guaranteed to be crushing their rivals in the Premier League, I believe that is why the world’s very best players at the tip of their careers choose to play elsewhere in Europe, and not in England.
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