Two of the world’s biggest stars could make the switch from La Liga to the Premier League at the end of this campaign and with English football seemingly in decline and the nation’s top league failing to display success in Europe, why would the Real Madrid stars consider the move?
European success and South American talent is a clear draw for the La Liga and Barcelona and Real Madrid would be dream clubs for most, if not all footballers. The Bundesliga is home to some of the most passionate footballing fans and is a hot spot for youth development. China and France are becoming destinations where money can attract stars but what is it that the Premier League offers that has attracted the attentions of these European stars in particular.
Sergio Ramos has never played outside of Spain, where he started with Seville in 2004. He made the switch to Real Madrid a year later and has been with the European giants for over a decade. The defender is regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world and has lifted the World Cup and two European Cups playing for Spain after making his international debut at the age of 19. He’s a regular in FIFA’s World Team of the Year and one of Real Madrid’s most important players.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s career began with Sporting Lisbon in Portugal, where he trained as a youth star but it wasn’t long until Sir Alex Ferguson brought the talented youngster to Manchester United to play in the Premier League. He went on to make 196 league appearances for the club, scoring 84 goals and becoming one of their greatest ever players. When Real Madrid splashed a massive £80m on the forward, Ronaldo became the world’s most expensive player and has since written his name into history, picking up three FIFA Ballon D’or awards with only Lionel Messi denying him a full handful. The Portuguese star could now be on his way back to the Premier League…
People question whether the Premier League’s standards have fallen and claim it can no longer be called the best league in Europe as it’s without the world’s top players and English teams are failing to perform in Europe. However, what can’t be questioned is the league’s competitiveness. In the last five seasons, the Premier League will have crowned four different champions (assuming Leicester City or Tottenham win the 2015-16 season.) Last year’s winners, Chelsea, are expected to miss out on European football and Liverpool, who have drawn Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, may be absent too. In contrast, Barcelona or Real Madrid have won the La Liga title every year since 2004-5 apart from in the 2013-14 season when Atletico Madrid shockingly claimed the Spanish trophy. With two teams dominating, you could say the Spanish league has become a bit boring and maybe the Real Madrid stars are looking for a new challenge.
As well as league competitiveness, the Premier League offers the chance to play for some of the biggest and most historic football clubs. Manchester United and Liverpool in particular have a rich European history and are known all around the world for their success, fan bases and long-standing stadiums. For years, English clubs were breaking records and making headlines in European competition and until recently, the Premier League’s status as one of the most prestigious divisions in the world had been long-standing. Whether it’s a league in decline or not, it’s rich history brings out a beauty that many footballers would love to experience.
Although money seems to be a lure for countries like France and China, England isn’t shy on spending. Manchester City and Chelsea have become big spenders since their club was taken over by wealthy owners and it’s starting to become a trend in the Premier League with US and Arab billionaires making their way overseas. Ronaldo and Ramos would no doubt be offered a fat wage and would require huge transfer fees and with neither being shy of the limelight, I’m sure they’d like the status of a big-money-move.
The demands of playing for Real Madrid could be taking its toll. Ronaldo, considered by many as the world’s greatest, or certainly one of, is expected to win games single-handedly at times and if he ever underperforms, he experiences a wrath like no other player does. His greatness comes with a cost – his fall is even greater. When Ronaldo plays poorly, everyone knows about it. The good thing for him is that he rarely does have a bad game. Ramos, who’s been a servant of the Spanish giants for over a decade, will be in their history books as part of a number of title winning sides and European stars but with players of similar calibre coming along every 2-3 years at Real Madrid, he’ll never receive a full heroic and legendary status that he could have had at almost any other club. Perhaps he’ll come looking for this in the Premier League; a place where Ronaldo would return as perhaps the greatest player to have ever played in the league.
Ronaldo’s allegiance to Manchester United, the club where he grew to become one of the world’s greatest and was treated as their own, could be the dominating factor in his desire to return to the Premier League. For Ronaldo, it’s not simply a switch to the English league, but a return to his former club where he already holds memories and achievements many players would dream of. His attraction to return would have been heavily helped by the fact the Premier League could see some of Europe’s top managers in action next season – all battling it out at the top. Klopp, Guardiola, Pochettino and Conte are already confirmed for next season, with Mourinho tipped for a return to the league. There are now some exciting managers in the Premier League and more European stars could be considering the switch soon too.