Has the Premier League lost its dominant presence?
Since the turn of the millennium, the Premier League has grown to be a dominant force in European football. However, the recent emergence of the FIFA Team of the Year and Chelsea’s inability to win the Club World Cup does little to suggest that the Premier League is still the best league in the world.
The English top flight is not so much English in nature as the Premier League is dominated by an influx of top paid foreign players who have been drawn in to the “best league in the world” status. You will struggle to find a team that now fields 11 English or British players for that matter.
Since Cristiano Ronaldo’s £80 million move to Real Madrid, it seems that the Premiership has lost that one player that stands out among the rest – the sort of player that is in his own league and is uttered in the same breath as Lionel Messi and ironically Cristiano Ronaldo.
Many will argue that Robin Van Persie is that player, but the Dutch dynamo is playing in a team that has looked poor in Europe – despite qualifying for the knockout phase of the Champions League and despite their lofty position in the league, their performances have looked more smash and grab than elegant and free flowing.
Their closest rivals, Manchester City, have also looked below par thus far. A dismal Champions League campaign and some lacklustre domestic performances have left City looking out of place as current Champions of England.
European Champions Chelsea headed to the Club World Cup full of expectation of bringing the trophy home and with it, restoring a certain amount of face in the Premier League. However, a final defeat at the hands of Corinthians left a flat feeling in the thoughts of many football fans.
Week in week out, the world watches teams such as Barcelona and Real Madrid in awe, hoping and praying that the likes of Lionel Messi, Andreas Iniesta, Xavi and Falcao will one day join the top flight of English football. That day looks incredibly unlikely as Spain leads the way when it comes to attractive and successful football.
Their national team’s dominance does nothing but good for La Liga and it is no wonder Lionel Messi wants to stay put.
The FIFA Team of the Year was the ultimate compliment to Spanish football, both domestically and on the international scene. Every one of the 11 players were from La Liga, with only one player not from Barcelona or Real Madrid. That player was Radamel Falcao, who is shaping up to be a world beater in his own right.
Casillas, Alves, Ramos, Piqué, Marcelo, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Iniesta, Ronaldo, Messi, Falcao. A fine team, nonetheless – although many will question the inclusion of Marcelo and Alves.
Considering who could replace their controversial inclusion, it will still remain doubtful whether anyone from the Premiership would be included. The likes of Philipp Lahm, Giorgio Chiellini, Mats Hummels and Andrea Pirlo could perhaps feel hard done to.
Juventus were the “invincibles” in Serie A, whilst Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have propelled German football into a position where they can rival the Premier League for “second best” status, behind La Liga.
Until England’s top flight sees the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Radamel Falcao and Lionel Messi playing week in week out for teams like Manchester United/City, Chelsea and Arsenal then the dominant presence it once possessed will struggle to resurface.
Thomas Bradley, football correspondent