Where Have All The Premier League’s Stars Gone?

Mesut Özil playing for Arsenal in the Community Shield.
Mesut Özil playing for Arsenal in the Community Shield. /

The English Premier League is truly in an unique era. Leicester City, a team who was propping up the table this time last year now sits on top of the league.

This sometimes happens a few games into the season, but not at Christmas after 16 games. Meanwhile Chelsea are in 16th place two places below king slayers Bournemouth, newly promoted Watford are 7th and Liverpool are in 9th.

It’s a brilliant season of unpredictable football.

That being said, the struggles of the elite can’t be understated. Manchester City cannot take a stranglehold on the league, despite their vast array of talent and shiny new signings.

Arsenal are yet to figure out the right formula within their squad, Manchester United cannot score and Chelsea cannot seem to get anything right at the moment.

Liverpool are simply a fallen giant of the past trying to re-establish themselves domestically before they can think bigger picture.

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In past years the Premier League has seen it’s young stars rise and mature into the world’s best. Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale have all dominated the Premier League before feeling the need to move onto something they perceived as bigger.

Even Angel Di Maria unhappily forced his way out of Manchester because he preferred to play in Paris, despite the fact Ligue 1 is a vastly inferior league.

The Premier League is struggling to not only keep its biggest stars, but attract them to England. I’m not talking about the Kevin De Bruyne’s or Anthony Martial’s of the world, despite the hefty fees they attracted this past summer.

The reality is at present England’s biggest clubs are not competing on the same level as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and even Paris Saint-Germain.

Manchester United have chased star after star for the past few transfer windows and have failed. Arturo Vidal (now at Bayern), Sergio Ramos (stayed at Madrid), Neymar (most likely signing a new contract), Ronaldo and Bale have all been chased and have led to nothing time and again.

Mesut Özil playing for Arsenal in the Community Shield.
Mesut Özil playing for Arsenal in the Community Shield. /
Gareth Bale during his presentation as a new Real Madrid player
Gareth Bale during his presentation as a new Real Madrid player /

Ronaldo, Neymar and Bale rumours still fly, but the reality is that nobody truly believes those deals will happen. Di Maria clearly never warmed to his move, and bailed on the club the first chance he was given.

David De Gea desired a move to Madrid all summer long, and may have gotten it if not for a dodgy fax machine scuppering any potential deadline day deal.

Manchester City’s spending power has still not allowed them to attract the stars they desire, and they’ve had to settle for the next bracket down regardless of their crazy spending.

Chelsea have as much money as anyone, but appear to have accepted they cannot compete on the biggest level of elite players. To be fair on Arsenal they’ve managed to sign Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, but both of those two players were forced to leave their Spanish employers.

England’s giants need to find a way to attract the very best to the league they proclaim as the best in the world. But how can it be the best league in the world if it doesn’t have the best players?

How many of the Premier League’s brightest stars would realistically stake a claim for a regular spot at one of their European rivals?

Ozil and Sanchez would make a case, despite their departures from Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.

Sergio Aguero would walk into any XI in the world, and might already have left the Premier League if he could stay fit for a whole season. Yaya Toure and David Silva are on the downslope of their careers.

Eden Hazard’s current form wouldn’t justify a big money move it would take for him to go and Willian’s red hot form would still not be enough for the world’s best.

Quite simply, the talent isn’t there right now. There’s lots of young, exciting talent throughout the squads (look at Tottenham for example) but not top shelf talent associated with the very best in the world.

Thanks to record TV deals the outlook financially has never looked better from top to bottom, but the lack of young English stars and coaches also has to be of concern to the competition.

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Only one of the Premier League’s top 10 clubs is coached by a British manager, with Alan Pardew guiding Crystal Palace to 6th place through 16 games. The competition has a variety of concerns going forward, with a dearth of homegrown players forcing clubs to look past higher quality players and instead at local talent to fulfil homegrown player quotas.

Years of neglect with players and coaching has forced the issue, and is a big part of the current problem. Compromising on the middle band of talent means squads are not as strong from top to bottom, which in turn makes clubs less appealing to the stars they are trying to sign.

England must find a way to start amending these problems and fast. Focusing on it’s brand has cost it domestically, which is now costing it on the European stage and stars are not as attracted to the competition.

Next: Round 15 Premier League Review

If the Premier League is going to keep claiming that it’s the world’s best league, it needs to be attracting the world’s best players. Otherwise the title won’t ring true much longer.