It only seems like a few days ago that the back pages were filled with gossip, announcing the imminent arrival of the world’s best players on English soil.
Remember when Manchester United had all but signed Robert Lewandoswki? Manchester City were being linked with Neymar and Edinson Cavani, whilst Chelsea were being consistently touted as Radamel Falcao’s next club?
Arsenal and Tottenham had apparently both agreed deals in principle with Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain and Barcelona’s David Villa respectively.
A few weeks down the line, and none of these moves have materialised. The only real major transfer activity has come from Manchester City’s direction (surprise, surprise) and even then, they haven’t signed established world-class players, but promising continental prospects.
Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t coming back to Manchester (sorry United fans, but it just isn’t going to happen) whilst Cesc Fabregas does not appear to be interested in being a big fish in a small pond - that little pond signifying Manchester United’s central midfield.
Fabregas appears to be content with being the little fish in a big pond, and his current home is occupied with the stellar names of Lionel Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, also known as Barcelona.
So what then, has happened? Has the Premier League lost its pulling power?
Despite us Brits blindly maintaining that the Premier League is the best in the world, more big name players have left our shores than have arrived in recent years.
The enigmatic Mario Balotelli, whilst not missed by some, is surely missed by most - purely for his entertainment value. The tireless Carlos Tevez, who was allegedly forced out of the door at Old Trafford, has now been pushed out of the fire exit for good.
Whilst it’s looking increasingly likely that Gareth Bale will be the next star player to leave the Premier League.
Worse still, are we now driving players away as well as not attracting the best rising young stars? What’s gone wrong?
One obvious reason could be that English teams no longer possess the financial clout required to compete in the modern transfer market.
PSG and recently, Monaco, have become amongst the biggest spenders in Europe and both landed highly sought-after players this summer in Cavani and Falcao respectively.
The Columbian - coincidentally a long-term target of both Chelsea and Manchester City - will pocket £12million yearly in the tax haven of Monte Carlo, something Chelsea or City could not offer him.
Falcao perhaps epitomises how money has come to dictate the game. He is a rare footballing talent, in his physical prime, who should have the desire to ply his trade at the highest level possible, yet Falcao chose to play for a newly-promoted French team who played in front of an average crowd of 5,000 last season.
The attractions of joining either Barcelona or Real Madrid transcend tangible riches and wealth (although they do help) for some players.
It is interesting to note that Real Madrid’s advertising team and PR have done a hell of a job as many people seem to forget they have won the league only once in the last five years, the Champions League only three teams since the 1960s, and live constantly in Barcelona’s shadow.
Yet they are regarded as one of the top teams in European football, I digress though, for that, is another matter. I believe a large part of this attraction is based on the climate and the lifestyle on offer and it’s a no brainer really – I know where I’d rather be during the grim winter slog.
The physicality of the Premier League can also put players who are accustomed to La Liga or Serie A off a potential move to the Premier League.
The British media are ruthless in their pursuit of pantomime villains and are equally as ruthless when they smell blood. Take Luis Suarez and Fernando Torres as prime examples for these two categories.
Suarez talks of himself as being at the centre of a ‘witch-hunt’ and unfairly persecuted by the tabloids – he doesn’t do himself any favours admittedly – but you’d be a fool to deny that Suarez isn’t a true footballing genius.
Sure, he may be a racist and attempted cannibal but I’m not here to talk about his personality, the fact remains – he’s a damn good footballer.
The media’s ‘persecution’ of Suarez may well end up with Suarez setting sail for greener pastures whilst any footballer who is prone to the odd confidence-related dip in form will have been watching the media’s tormenting of the once mighty Fernando Torres knelt in front of the toilet.
Harsh victimisation and almost bullying from the media could be discouraging players from joining the Premier League almost (and I say almost sarcastically) as much as the financial gains at stake.
So, going on this logic, trying to sign a player from La Liga would be a little bit like asking someone to take a pay cut to come and work in country with a pretty miserable climate, especially when compared to that of Spain.
As if that isn’t bad enough, if you step too far out of line, expect to be crucified by the media. Hardly sounds like a tempting offer does it?
Perhaps the failure of the top Premier League teams to land world-class established players could have a positive effect, forcing teams to turn to the age-old method of nurturing home grown British talent?
It might come too late for Brazil 2014, but it can’t be a bad thing for the future of the England team.
Maybe I have been a bit over the top with these assertions and assumptions, and I could be completely wrong come September, but it just seems like the Premier League isn’t the top destination for the world’s best players anymore.
If not, then we could be in for a very busy transfer deadline day.
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