English football loses Bale and Suarez in the space of a year.
Read more Liverpool FC news.
Gareth Bale last summer. Luis Suarez this year. For the second summer in a row, the Premier League’s outstanding player of the season has been snatched in a big-money ‘Galactico’ move by one of La Liga’s two giants.
For all the baggage and nasty incidents during his time in English football that he brings, Suarez has been a joy to watch for the last couple of years, and truly lit up the Premier League last season as Liverpool came oh so close to winning the title for the first time since 1990. Without him, the Reds will be short of a truly world class match-winner in their quest to challenge for the league again, while neutrals will also be starved of a mesmeric performer who is truly an ‘advert’ for the Premier League in terms of his ability and status.
The Uruguayan’s departure will leave Brendan Rodgers with a major rebuilding job ahead of next season, just as Bale’s exit has set Tottenham Hotspur back a couple of years as they find themselves with more money than sense from his sale, all spent on a high number of largely average additions who in theory should have been enough between them to replace the Welshman. Things rarely work out that way, though, and for all the money Real and Barca have handed to English clubs over the years, it is fair to assume that the Spanish giants see the value in having the world class individual over the wad of cash.
Still, although Liverpool and Spurs (as well as clubs before them) have been hit by the Spanish giants’ ability to pay through the roof for their annual superstar signing, there is always room for others to benefit from a sort of footballing equivalent of the ‘trickle-down effect’ – the arrival of the pair’s unwanted squad players, many of whom are actually very good players themselves, and vastly under-appreciated by their clubs.
While Arsenal used to be on the receiving end of this poaching from Barcelona in particular (Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and many more have switched the Emirates Stadium for the Nou Camp in the last decade), they have become the main beneficiaries in the last couple of summers, using the opportunity to pounce for two superb signings in Mesut Ozil, who moved from the Bernabeu a year ago after Bale’s arrival pushed him down the pecking order, and now Alexis Sanchez as he leaves Barcelona to make way for Suarez.
There are also rumours that Angel Di Maria could be another big name pushed out by Real this summer, with Manchester United strongly linked with him, and there are examples in the past of great players let go too easily by both clubs. Chelsea have benefited in the past with the signing of Claude Makelele back in 2003, and now Fabregas this summer. Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Napoli have all landed themselves world class talents in Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Gonzalo Higuain, respectively, in the recent past as well.
The truth is, Real and Barca are often spending money on players they don’t even need, and then freeing up some fine talent already in their squads to leave for below their market value. On the face of it, this doesn’t sound like great economics, but income is generated from the constant turnover of personnel, and the excitement and money generated from the unveiling of new Galacticos every year, with packed stadiums often turning out to see their new signings in action doing keepy-uppies on the pitch, donned with their new shirt and eagerly-anticipated squad number.
In addition, Real Madrid and Barcelona are able to negotiate their own individual television deals, earning more than any other club worldwide due to the collective broadcast arrangements in England, Germany and Italy – and that too fuels their transfer spending.
Given the easily forgettable fact that neither Real nor Barca are actually the current champions of Spain, it is precisely this transfer policy that makes them stand out as true giants of world football. No trophies to show? Well, here’s a brand spanking new player instead. While the Premier League’s entertainment factor will always survive due to the sheer closeness of our action-packed games, La Liga arguably depends on the marquee signings on show at these two clubs. After all, in Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Bale, and now Suarez, the Spanish top flight is arguably home to the top five best players in the world. The other clubs in the league might not like it, as they face an almost unassailable task of catching these two teams, but their presence keeps La Liga alive.
Meanwhile – if they’re smart – Premier League sides can make the most of it too.