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Mediawatch needs no encouragement to poke fun at the Little Englander rants of Jeff Powell in the Daily Mail but his recent 'have you heard of Jesus Navas? The Premier League only attracts rubbish foreigners' schtick has provided particularly easy pickings. This is a man who would have probably spluttered 'who?' when Manchester City signed David Silva or Chelsea pulled off the coup of signing Juan Mata. Unless Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo comes to these shores, Powell and his ilk will remain unmoved.
This week the voices asking 'why not the Premier League?' have become louder as Edinson Cavani nears a move to PSG and Robert Lewandowski's Bayern Munich fate gains clarity. Add the Monaco unveiling of Radamel Falcao and Neymar's early-summer switch to Barcelona and it's easy to paint a picture of a league lagging way behind when it comes to attracting the world's elite footballers, especially when every second headline begins 'City/Chelsea miss out on...'.
But while some will make wild conclusions - citing an underperforming Champions League season but ignoring previous successes - about the decline of the English game, there are two compelling reasons why such wild conclusions should be avoided.
a) It has ever been thus. Premier League clubs have a history of nurturing rather than buying world-class players. Rarely do the game's hottest properties come to these shores - Cristiano Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres, Robin van Persie and dozens of other players have become world-class players while playing for Premier League clubs. None of those players were wanted by Spain's top two clubs at the time of their arrival in England. If you're now scrambling around for names like Juan Veron, Andrei Shevchenko and Sergio Aguero, remember that you're talking about a timespan of around 12 years. These players are exceptions. For the majority of South American or Iberian players, Spain will always hold a greater lure.
b) More interestingly, we cannot bemoan a lack of financial prudence and then bemoan a lack of the world's most expensive players.
Thousands upon thousands of words have been written over the last decade about a level of spending at Premier League clubs which pays no heed to the balance sheet. We've all gasped and tutted at City's losses totalling close to £200m, Chelsea having debts of almost £900m and desperate clubs like QPR or Blackburn spending 80-90% of their turnover on wages, and now there are some wanting to throw their hands in the air and saying 'why don't we attract the world's best?' If England's clubs are staying away from players who cost £50m and get paid £200,000 a week then surely we should be applauding their financial prudence.
The headlines all say that Chelsea and Manchester City have 'missed out' on Cavani, but can you 'miss out' on a player whose £54m release clause you refuse to meet? Those clubs believe that the Uruguayan is not worth £54m. Hell, even Cavani himself said he was not worth £54m. Thankfully for Napoli, and for Cavani's own bank account, PSG - who are playing by their own financial rules - have agreed to that valuation. Well done, PSG. You win. But this was an expensive game that Premier League clubs were happy not to play.
Then there's Falcao, now reportedly earning more at Monaco - thanks to the principality's curious tax status - than either Messi or Ronaldo. Chelsea and City were right not to even attempt to compete in that market. Completing the 'name your price' elite club this summer was £50m Neymar, who was forever destined to join either Real Madrid or Barcelona. No Premier League club was ever a serious contender for Brazil's hottest export, whatever the Daily Star would have you believe.
As for the other co-called 'misses', Isco understandably chose to remain in Spain, Lewandowski will understandably choose to stay in Germany, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan chose Champions League over mid-table and Mario Gomez was apparently without serious suitors in England. And yet some would have you believe that Premier League clubs are waiting under the top table like a dog looking for scraps...scraps like the excellent Fernandinho, the phenomenally quick Jesus Navas or the dynamic Andre Schurrle.
If those names don't excite you, then we'll leave you in your gang with Jeff Powell. We'll remain happy that we follow a league that balks at making Falcao the best-paid player in the world.