It wasn’t long ago that international football was widely regarded as the pinnacle of the beautiful game.
But has that now changed?
While some football fans still argue that players need to win a major tournament before they can be considered genuine legends of the game, others feel this argument is redundant because the highest quality football is now played in Europe’s top leagues and, in particular, the Champions League.
Joey Barton, it seems, is firmly in the latter camp.
The 35-year-old, who is currently serving a lengthy ban after admitting a Football Association charge in relation to betting, has been commenting on the current state of international football following England’s underwhelming victories over Slovenia and Lithuania.
Barton on the current state of international football
“The Champions League winners would beat the World Cup winners,” he told talkSPORT on Monday.
He continued: “Also, the champions in most countries – the strong countries, certainly - would beat the national side. Chelsea would beat England, Celtic would beat Scotland. I think Real Madrid would beat Spain, that’s a good one. Juventus would beat Italy.
“Outside of the top 16 countries in the world, the drop off in ability is like going off a cliff face. I don’t think it’s that strong.
“The winners of the Champions League would beat the side that won the World Cup in the same year. Real Madrid would have beaten Germany [in 2014].”
Barton’s comments will certainly spark an interesting debate.
Barton then took to Twitter to continue his argument
He added on Twitter: “I think top 10 Premier League clubs would qualify for the World Cup. International football nowhere near as strong as people think.”
Reaction to Barton's tweet
Here’s how his followers reacted to that comment…
And to further back up his argument, Barton also posted this tweet…
Football fans still love the World Cup
The astronomical amounts of money now involved in club football means it should come as no surprise that international football has fallen behind.
However, nothing unites or excites people more than a World Cup.
And regardless of whether or not international football lacks the quality showcased in the Champions League, football fans across the globe will be counting down the days until the 2018 World Cup gets underway once we enter the New Year.