Even world-class players struggle in the Premier League, but why?
The world’s top-rated football talent often finds it hard to readily adapt to the premier league and there are multiple reasons as to why.
Beyond the good-natured banter among football fans and the unrelenting loyalty to their favourite football leagues across the world, there is no doubt among lovers of football that the English Premier League is the epitome of professional football club competitions.
The league draws a tremendous fan-base across all walks of life and the best of the best dream of making a name for themselves in the EPL.
Some will argue that the Premier league only beats other leagues for better TV coverage and massive marketing campaigns; other leagues such as the Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga, or the Italian Serie A are equally exciting or even better.
Well, without delving into technicalities, most will agree that the EPL is more dynamic and competitive, unlike other leagues where the title run is a two-horse race every other season. It’s only in the premier league that a super team like Liverpool, who were crowned the UEFA Champions of Europe in 2018-19 season and top EPL team of 2019-20 season, can be given a 7-1 masterclass by Aston Villa, a team that was battling relegation just a season ago.
The world’s top-rated football talent often finds it hard to readily adapt to the premier league and there are multiple reasons as to why. Even with all the talent, players have to work extra hard to make an impact in the highly-competitive landscape.
A Whole New Ball Game
Recent big money transfers like Timo Werner have openly confessed that the contact in the league is much harder than anywhere else he has been. Even the smaller teams are incredibly physical.
The style of play for EPL teams involves structured build-up and well-executed team play. It is hard to control the game singly and individual talents often find themselves unseen throughout the game.
A perfect example of this is decorated players like Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal’s 2019 club-record signing, who had a stellar record in Lille’s 2018-19 season scoring 22 goals and providing 11 assists. In his first season at Arsenal, he only managed 5 goals in 31 appearances.
Another struggling player is Kai Havertz, signed for more or less the same price tag as Pepe with amazing stats in Bundesliga competitions. In 28 appearances, he had directly contributed to 27 goals before signing for Chelsea in 2020. Now, he has only managed a single goal in 20 appearances.
Other than the diverse styles of play for different EPL clubs, physically demanding games every other week which demand high-intensity runs and closely packed fixtures, the weather in England defy prediction. Foreign players have to adapt to playing in heavy downpours, poor visibility when it’s snowing outside and training sessions in the blistering winter cold.
It is called premier league for a good reason as it tests a player’s true mettle.
The Big Money League
The level of sponsorship deals and funding on EPL is borderline stupendous. Reviewing the spending sprees of top tier EPL teams in the last decade; Manchester United has a net expenditure of €944.15million, €1022.19million for Manchester city, €498.44million for Chelsea, €471.51million for Arsenal, and €338.04million for Liverpool.
Such enables teams to get top talent in the transfer market as well as top management to guarantee top results. When a player is signed for a price tag close to €100 million and is on ridiculous weekly wages worth hundreds of thousands of Euros, the pressure to perform can be overwhelming.
The massive revenue circulating around football leagues in Europe has given rise to other industries that are thriving as well. This includes media and advertising and most recently the online gaming industry.
Avid football fans across the world are leveraging their love for the beautiful game and knowledge of professional leagues to make a profit through sports betting. The gambling operators have also adapted to the rising demand by offering gamers a flurry of betting markets for every single football event. In so doing, some of the revenues trickle down to the common football fan.
These trends have become legalized in many countries, even those that were previously opposed to online sportsbooks. The economic potential is proving worthwhile and in some parts of Europe where player protection in online gaming is highly-prioritized, regulatory bodies have developed viable strategies, for instance, the gaming policies for illegal gambling in Sweden.
Football is increasingly gaining popularity in places where it wasn’t as popular. The EPL fans specifically are an overzealous crowd that quickly turn on players who underperform. In most cases, new players are not given time to adapt to the new demanding environment. The online abuse and jeering at stadiums demoralize many foreign players. The current antiracism campaigns are some of the sensitization endeavours aimed at making the professional football scene more tolerant.
These are some of the factors making EPL brutal to even gifted players. At the end of the day, the most motivated players get to make their mark in the prestigious English Premier League. Beyond all reasonable doubt, a player that makes it here can easily make it in any other professional league.
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