It’s a fairly normal process, a concept is drummed so repeatedly and with such insistence into one’s brain that the notion becomes true out of its sheer existence.
While Sky Sports, BT and the majority of the media continue to sing from the same hymn-sheet, the one according to which the Premier League is the best league in the world, many top players have politely declined the offer of relocating on British shores this summer.
Spain U21′s captain Thiago Alcantara is the latest illustrious name on a list of players that have opted against moving to the Premier League, as he deemed a reunion with Pep Guardiola and the possibility of joining Bayern all-conquering machine more palatable than having to compete for a midfield spot with Anderson (and, frankly, who could blame him?).
The Spaniard might not be the finished article, but if Xavi, Iniesta and Pep Guardiola go out of their way to convince to stay at Barcelona or, in Guardiola’s case, to lure him to Bayern Munich, the boy must be rather special.
Lying the blame at David Moyes’ doorstep, however, would be rather precipitous and, well, plain daft, for Thiago isn’t the first – and, at this rate, definitely not the last – to decide the Premier League isn’t as appealing as it once was.
If Neymar’s transfer to Barcelona was somewhat easier to understand, given the cultural similarities between a South American and a Latin country and the rather appealing prospect of joining a certain Lionel Messi, other transfers have the semblance of a snub.
Radamel Falcao deemed a hefty pay-check and an apartment in Monaco much more appealing than a move to Chelsea or Manchester City and while the Colombian’s decision can be criticised from a professional point of view – Ligue 1 promises to become what the SPL was until Rangers’ financial demise – it’s interesting to note how even the Premier League’s financial superpowers struggle to compete with clubs who are just as wealthy.
For all his flirting and winking with Manchester City, Edinson Cavani is unlikely to join fellow South Americans Aguero and Zabaleta at Eastlands next season, while even strikers desperate trying to revive their careers, like David Villa, opted against moving to England.
And before people start wheeling out the old stereotype about the combination of British weather and British cuisine and the dreadful lack of entertainment in some parts of the country, consider that highly-rated Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has swapped St. Etienne for Dortmund – Germany is hardly a hotbed for fine dining – while former Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente has chosen Turin’s glitz ahead of London’s.
Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski almost never entertained any dreams of playing in the Premier League, Bayern Munich’s appeal made even stronger by their formidable record in recent years.
Granted, the Premier League has already witnessed some quality arrivals this summer with last season Eredivisie’s top scorer Wilfried Bony becoming Swansea’s record signing, while Spurs have splashed £17m on Paulinho. However, neither are the sort of big name – marquee signing, to use one of the most annoying cliches in modern football – that would get neutrals genuinely excited.
The Premier League continues to deliver thrilling football and entertainment in spades and, for all we know, some of this summer’s imports could go on to impress as much as, if not more, some of their more illustrious counterparts, but the feeling is that the constant ostentation of superiority the league too often indulges into could, on the long term, prove detrimental.
On the other hand, a more frugal attitude to the transfer market and a limited number of foreign imports could finally see some youngsters thrown at the deep of the pool by their clubs.
One can only hope.