The Premier League's unpredictable nature has put England's elite division among the very best of its kind on a global scale. From David Beckham to Cristiano Ronaldo, some of the biggest names to have played the game have graced the top flight in England since the league's formation back in 1992, but does that mean it's ahead of the likes of the Bundesliga and La Liga?
Without question, the league has grown in stature over the last 22-years: TV rights, billionaire owners and ridiculous sponsorship deals have helped turn the division into the global phenomenon that it is today. It's obvious, isn't it: the Premier League is the best in the world...or is it? Maybe, just maybe, we've been fooled, and England's top tier isn't quite what we think it is.
Perhaps there are arguments to suggest that England's top division is simply not as good as it has been made out to be. There's no denying the fact that some of the most recognisable football clubs in the world are a part of the setup...after all, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Co. have a remarkable following, a following that can only be matched by some of the other power-houses of European football.
But, this doesn't necessarily mean the Premier League is the best. It can be argued that fans of England's top tier have been brainwashed into thinking the division is the pinnacle for stars playing the so called 'Beautiful Game'.
There's a certain fixation on the Premier League - a fixation that has been brought upon through numerous media outlets over many years. Football fans have been fed a lot of nonsense that has very rarely been justified. The likes of Jamie Redknapp, Graeme Souness etc, who often occupy our television screens, have emphasised their beliefs to the watching world that England is the place to be.
'You don't get this anywhere else' has been heard several times over the last couple of years when referencing the Premier League. But, do football lovers really not get 'this' anywhere else?
Does La Liga, the Bundesliga and Serie A not throw up incredible and dramatic football matches? Is there never a relegation battle on the final day of the season? The truth: there is. You only have to look at the final game of the 2013/14 season in Spain's elite division, as Atletico stunned the world with their La Liga triumph.
Atletico's achievement a few months back really was stunning. Could a team with the budget of Atletico win the title in England? The same question can be asked when looking at Borussia Dortmund. The German outfit, of course, won back-to-back titles just a few years back in the Bundesliga.
In a sense, followers of the division have succumbed to the NIMBY (not in my back yard) effect.
Many fans of the Premier League have held strong beliefs that nothing quite compares to it, but do they only believe this because they haven't been fed anything else? They've been told that it's the greatest, and they've quickly followed suit in believing it's the No.1 place to watch football.
Of course, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1 are shown in England, but they will never reach out to fans because they are not close to home like the Premier League is. It's understandable, of course, but it doesn't necessarily mean that La Liga and others are behind the Premier League in any way.
In England, Manchester United have been dominant throughout the Premier League era. For a long time, Arsenal proved their greatest rivals, while the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City have now started to take United's control away from them. But, as we're all aware, Chelsea and City are in the capable hands of extremely rich owners. Is it really that hard for clubs to compete in England? Money, of course, brings success: and it brings it very quickly indeed.
The wealth of club owners, however, is irrelevant when taking into account combined profits in the division. And, in fact, England's top tier has fallen behind the likes of the Bundesliga in that sense. Germany's elite division have seen profits as high as $242 million in recent time, while the Premier League have only been able to creep over the $150 million mark. Perhaps, then, England's top division doesn't have the influence or the power that so many think.
The Premier League does, however, possess the ability to hold onto the top names from...England. Unsurprisingly the likes of John Terry, Steven Gerrard and Co. have all played out their best footballing years in England's elite division.
Of course, there's Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole, who have now moved on in the latter stages of their career, but they, like many players and fans alike, have been brainwashed into thinking that playing in the Premier League is the ultimate for any player.
Ashley Cole, in fact, has backed this up to an extent, insisting that players are scared to leave England. But come on, he's not fooling anyone - it even took him years to leave England behind, and he doesn't seem to really like the country anyway.
And, while players from England fall into the trap, stars from around the world don't seem to have the same beliefs, despite the attraction of the top teams in the division...
What do Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez all have in common? The answer is obvious: they were the best players in the Premier League and they were offloaded to either Real Madrid or Barcelona for huge sums. The likes of Thierry Henry and Luka Modric could even be included in that list to a certain extent.
And, having signed for the biggest clubs in Spain, Ronaldo and the rest have all pretty much said the same thing: 'Real Madrid (or Barcelona) is my dream and the pinnacle for any player'. You get the point.
Real and Barcelona - La Liga's biggest clubs - still have the power and the resources to take what they want from England. They will sell the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabregas if they want, but they will replace them with bigger names: James Rodriguez, Neymar, Toni Kroos...
Gareth Bale's recent quotes, as reported by Sky Sports, certainly back this up, as he said: "For me I think the Spanish league is the most exciting. It's the world's top players there. Barcelona, Real Madrid are always in the Champions League, either winning it or coming very close.
"The Premier League is a great league. I think it's very close, but yeah I think we are attracting the best players now to La Liga and it's making it more exciting and it's great to be involved in it."
Europe and World Cup
Many will suggest, however, that England's elite division is ahead in terms of strength in depth. But, is this really true? If this was the case, then wouldn't English sides win the Europa League on a regular basis?
Apart from Chelsea, who were only in the competition because they were dumped out the Champions League, the only other English outfit to have won Europe's second biggest competition since the formation of the Premier League is Liverpool. Surely, then, if England's lesser sides were of such high quality they would win - or make great progress - in the tournament. Is it a lack of taking the competition seriously or are they just not as good as they think they are?
It must be noted that the Premier League big-boys have enjoyed some success in the Champions League in recent time, but you only have to look at City's struggles in the competition to realise how good some of Europe's top clubs really are.
And since the formation of the Premier League, do English teams really have such a great record in the competition? With four major European wins since '92, England are able to boast one more than the Germans, but Spain, on this occasion, run away with it, as the likes of Barcelona and Co. have racked up eight major successes in the tournament.
The most shocking fact of all, however, is that throughout the entirety of the Premier League era, only two players based in England have won the FIFA Ballon d'Or. Cristiano Ronaldo is one, and Michael Owen the other. What does that statistic say about the so called best league in the world? The Premier League possesses many great players, but perhaps it doesn't have the world's best...
The World Cup, meanwhile, told a story of its own. Not one player who starred in the Premier League season made the 'Dream Team' in Brazil, and it was a similar story in South Africa four years previous.
The truth of the matter is that football fans have become so obsessed with the euphoria around the Premier League, that they've attempted to block out its competitors. It's a big wide world out there, and the Premier League still has everything to prove on the global stage.
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