Gareth Bale just this week stated how La Liga is the most exciting league in the world, stating that the reason why this is, is that the biggest and best players in the world are playing there now. Gareth Bale is a magnificent footballer, but this is a questionable statement. Not true, not false, but perhaps somewhere in-between? Michael Laverty discusses.
The big rivals to La Liga are obviously the Premier League, Bundesliga and Serie A. These make up the top leagues in Europe. Whilst I believe La Liga has excellent players joining clubs in Spain, it is worth noting that the likes of Barcelona have gotten weaker following the transfer of Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal, the retirement of Puyol, and of course Xavi and Iniesta are coming up to the end of their careers with rumours of a departure for the excellent Spanish duo.
Of course anyone would probably rather Luis Suarez over Alexis Sanchez, but what Barcelona appear weak in defense, and their strength in depth is a little bit more depleted now with the sale of Fabregas for example.
With recent rumours (that should probably be taken with a pinch of salt) that Messi wanted to join the Premier League before agreeing a contract with Barcelona last year, it is hard to say that La Liga is the most exciting league in the world. Real Madrid are arguably the best team in the world at the moment, and they are attracting the best and most exciting players, but apart from Suarez at Barcelona, that’s it really for La Liga.
Perhaps Real Madrid being the most exciting team in La Liga or arguably Europe might have been a more accurate statement from Bale. With James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos signing for the Madrid side, it seems that the best players are more willing to join Real Madrid just at the moment rather than Barca. Obviously both are great sides, but Real are the strongest they have been for years, and Barcelona seem to be struggling in some areas.
It will be interesting to see how Atletico Madrid develop following their run to the Champions League final, along with their excellent league finish. While they shouldn’t be dismissed as a strong side, many changes have and will happen before the new campaign for Atleti. Personally I think if they re-sign Fernando Torres, that he will rediscover some of the form he lost at Chelsea and maybe be closer to that of his Euro 2012 performance. He is a man with plenty of goals left in him if he plays in a side that suits him.
The German league has more quality teams than La Liga, with the likes of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke. Players such as Robben, Ribery, Lewandowski, Huntelaar etc are top players, along with a progressing youth side that the Germans are and will produce for the future. Currently, I believe the Bundesliga is the best and most exciting league in the world at the moment with great teams and a number of top quality players, as well as players with huge potential. After his World Cup final goal, Goetze is an example of a player with a potentially incredible career ahead of him, proving he can perform on the biggest stage.
Transferwise, the Bundesliga is where clubs from around Europe are looking to recruit for the forthcoming season. This tells its own story, but I think there seems to be more loyalty to the German league from players playing within it linked with moves away. This shows the attraction and strength of these great-to-watch sides.
For me, Serie A is a league in transition. While players there are great players playing within the league, AC Milan and Inter Milan seem to have lost quite a bit of their strength, with Juventus the team that are currently swimming best with the most potential for the future. Players such as Pogba, Balotelli, Pirlo, Tevez etc., are a great attraction, but the Italian league needs more quality, and more Italian talent and philosophy as seen in days gone by.
Serie A may be 3-5 years off at the pace at the moment in my eyes. Clubs like AC and Inter need to improve rather than continue in more decline, along with some other teams such as Lazio and Fiorentina, to enable the Serie A to compete for the title of the best league in the world.
The Premier League is exciting. Does it attract the best players? To a certain degree it does, but are they are good or exciting as 7-10 years ago? I don’t believe they are. Whilst it is tight at the top, English teams seem to be struggling more and more in Europe in recent years. Of course, this could change with van Gaal in charge of Manchester United, and Jose Mourinho putting more of his own personnel together, but unfortunately I would not view the Premier League as a league with the best quality of players. The league is arguably the most exciting in the world, and who would argue against that with more teams that ever fighting for the title? This for me though, is a double-edged sword. Whilst it is exciting and great to see many different teams compete for top four, it is also a worry in terms of quality of the top teams within the league.
For me, the Premier League is in its worst state when it comes to player quality, than ever. I am sure if your local team were involved in a battle for the title amongst four or five other teams it would be very exciting, but for me player quality is a big part of this, and therefore the title must be conceded to the Bundesliga, or definitely the example La Liga set last year with top quality players competing at the highest level for both the league and the Champions League. The difference is incredible.
Let’s hope they’re are a new influx of young talent from the UK and Ireland in the Premier League, mixed with classy foreign players such as Henry, Ronaldo and Cantona.
Michael laverty, Pundit Arena.