Football

Stars must stay put for Premier League prosperity

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The Premier League could not have asked for a better finale to their celebratory 20th year – the year of awards becoming the most dramatic and exciting season to date.

 

In the last 20 years that is, as this is when the Premier League product was launched. It was the same old football, with the mud, scrapes and elbows, but now it had a gloss over it, a sheen of glamour and celebrity.

 

One redeeming feature of the league has been how competitive it has become over the past few years and, while most of the sides at the top are familiar, there have been some new additions and spectacular falling off by teams more accustomed to working higher up the league.

 

The competitive edge is in danger of being lost though, if the big spenders are allowed to have their way and poach the best talent from around the league.

 

The curtain has fallen on the season, but the next performance is already up and running: the transfer window.

 

This year it looks as though an Arsenal player will be taking centre stage, as Robin van Persie’s contract situation and possible alternatives to an Emirates Stadium stay barely needed a day to begin dominating headlines.

 

The Dutchman has been pivotal to the Gunners finishing third, scoring 30 Premier League goals and winning the golden boot.

 

His departure from the club is currently being dreaded by Arsenal fans, but it is a reality they will have more than a small chance of facing.

 

Arsene Wenger’s side desperately need their captain and talisman to stay if they are to improve on the calamitous summer they had last year and avoid a repeat of the abysmal form suffered in the early stages of the season.

 

Arsenal scraped a fortunate win over West Brom at the weekend to pip their local rivals Tottenham Hotspur to third, but Harry Redknapp faces the same dreaded uncertainty Wenger was scuppered by last year.

 

Then Samir Nasri and Cesc Febregas wanted to leave and they could not be played in the Champions League qualifier against Udinese for fear of reducing their value by making them ineligible for that year’s competition.

 

This was coupled with the fear that a lack of Champions League football would be a huge blow to bringing in suitable replacements for two of their star performers from the previous season.

 

While Spurs may be spared this uncertainty if Chelsea manager to overcome Bayern Munich in the Champions League final and take the north London side’s place, it is sure to be an uncomfortable off-season for them.

 

Gareth Bale and Luka Modric are two of the White Hart Lane club’s best players, and they are likely interesting a number of Europe’s elite sides.

 

Modric was close to leaving for Chelsea last season, but chairman Daniel Levy did a good job of standing his ground and refusing to be bowed by player pressure.

 

Bale has been consistently linked with Barcelona in the press and he is the jewel in Spurs crown, so it is unsurprising his services are being coveted.

 

Spurs' failure to re-enter the top four in their debut Champions League year showed how difficult it is to maintain the status of an elite club, regularly joining the biggest party in European football.

 

Newcastle United were close to breaking into the treasured Champions League places, but fell just short in their final two fixtures.

 

Despite this they had an exceptional season, far outperforming even the most optimistic expectations before the season.

 

They did it with some terrific value signings but, as manager Alan Pardew admitted, they will find it extremely difficult to keep hold of their best performers if the money begins to talk.

 

Manchester City’s victory was an exciting culmination of a season for their generation of beleaguered fans, but their transfer policy is unlikely to be different no than if they hadn’t managed to find that last-gasp goal.

 

Roberto Mancini will be setting out targets to make sure his squad can retain their first title in 44 years, as well as making a tilt at the Champions League after suffering group stage elimination at their first attempt.

 

Van Persie is being mentioned as one of the Italian’s targets and it would be bad for the league if this would happen.

 

City already have a surplus of multi-million pound signings that do not play as big a part in the team if they were playing at other clubs – there is also the case of Emmanuel Adebayor on loan at Tottenham, who will be difficult to offload due to the astronomic wages.

 

Regardless of who the buyers are, these teams need to keep hold of their players if the league able to produce frantic drama seen on Sunday.

 

The league would risk becoming something similar to La Liga; where a small number of teams dominate with far superior squads than the rest of the league.

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Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Arsenal
Robin Van Persie
Football
Premier League
Newcastle United

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