Football

Cristiano Ronaldo transfer hurt the Premier League

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As another exciting set of Champions League and Europa League fixtures approaches, some of Britain's finest footballers prepare to watch from their sofas. Without a single English club remaining in either competition, the Premier League is in danger of altogether losing its prestige.

Whilst some blame it on factors such as the lack of a winter break, one fact is truly undeniable: English football has never been the same since the day Cristiano Ronaldo left.

2007-2009: The peak years

Of course, it was not long ago when the Portuguese star was first beginning to stake his claim as a superstar at Manchester United. There were three English teams in the Champions League semi-finals every year from 2007 to 2009.

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United were the main superpower both domestically and in Europe and Ronaldo was their kingpin. He scored in their 2008 Champions League final victory over Chelsea - his 42nd goal of the season in all competitions. He went on to win his first Ballon d'Or title for his efforts that year.

The following season, he was instrumental in United's third consecutive title-winning campaign. Only Tom Henning Ovrebo's controversial refereeing display prevented Chelsea from setting up a second consecutive Champions League final clash with the Red Devils.

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Power shift

In the summer of 2009, Ronaldo departed for Real Madrid for a then world record £80 million fee. The following season, United lost their Premier League crown to Chelsea and not a single Premier League club made the Champions League semi-finals. Indeed, since Ronaldo left, there have been only three English semi-finalists in six years (Manchester United in 2010/11 and Chelsea in 2011/12 and 2013/14).

By contrast, La Liga has thrived since Ronaldo joined. With Lionel Messi scoring goals for fun at Barcelona, Spanish football now boasts the two greats of the modern era. Ronaldo and Messi have monopolised the Ballon d'Or since 2008 and Barcelona and Real Madrid have won three of the last six Champions League titles between them.

Domino effect

The phenomenal strength of Barcelona and Real Madrid has sparked life into La Liga's chasing pack. Determined not to be left behind, Atletico Madrid have built a world class side that last year won the league title and reached the Champions League final.

This season, La Liga's top four are separated by ten points. The days of the so-called "two team league" are well and truly over and Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are all in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Winter break or not, Premier League clubs have shown that they are capable of dominating world football. The onus in on them to produce or sign another truly great player.

After all, the only alternative is to continue to watch talents such as Gareth Bale slip through their grasp. Until action is taken, British youngsters will grow up dreaming of joining Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - the man who once reigned king of the Premier League - in sunny Spain.

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Topics:
Football
La Liga
Premier League
Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid
Manchester United

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