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Rediff.com  » Sports » English Premier League no longer attracts the best footballers

English Premier League no longer attracts the best footballers

August 20, 2013 08:15 IST

Not quite interested in the Premier League

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The star players, says Bikash Mohapatra, who have avoided moving to England this summer well outnumber the ones who have joined the premiership.

It is undoubtedly the most-watched league.

It definitely is the most lucrative.

And it is certainly miles ahead of the rest when it comes to international coverage.

However, despite its popularity, the English Premier League seems to be lacking something.

How else does one relate it's failure to attract some big names in this transfer window.

Sample these: Alvaro Negredo, Stevan Jovetic, Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Roberto Soldado, Wilfried Bony. They are the biggest acquisitions of the summer.

All of them quite well-known and very competent footballers. However, they aren't exactly the marquee names that one would expect the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City to buy.

Then, there's a curious case of a player (Gonzalo Higuain) who was keen on the move, but the club (Arsenal) wasn't willing to pay the asking price, forcing him to move to Italy.

Also there is Cesc Fabregas, the former Arsenal player, who preferred to continue at Barcelona despite repeated attempts by United.

The bottomline is, as opposed to the names above, who have moved in to England, there are even bigger players who have preferred to snub a similar move. The reasons vary, from the asking price not being met to the lack of playing time considering the squad strength to the lack of Champions League action.

However, fact remains that the star players who have avoided moving to England this summer comfortably outnumber the ones who have joined.

Here's a look at the biggest names to have snubbed the Premier League in the transfer window.




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Cavani chose PSG over City

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Edinson Cavani

A long-term Manchester City target, with outgoing manager Roberto Mancini even admitting having tried to sign him, Edinson Cavani remained a dream unrealised for the big-spending Eastlands club.

Even with all their wealth City failed to meet Napoli's demand (63 million euros), that would have triggered the Uruguayan's release clause.

Paris Saint-Germain had no such issues.


Image: Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani reacts after scoring a goal during his French Ligue 1 soccer match against Ajaccio at Parc des Princes
Photographs: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

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Chelsea was keen, Falcao wasn't

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Radamel Falcao

His prolific form at Atletico Madrid meant Chelsea kept monitoring his progress.

In fact, the Colombian had attracted the Stamford Bridge club's attention with his hat-trick in the UEFA Super Cup last August.

Radamel Falcao went from strength to strength, plundering 34 goals in all competitions for Atletico last season as he led them to the Copa del Rey.

However, despite all the interest and monitoring, when it came to actual business, Chelsea couldn't match the asking price.

Newly-promoted French club AS Monaco agreed to meet the Colombian's 50.7 million pounds buy-out clause and Falcao headed to France.


Image: Radamel Falcao of Monaco
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images

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Relishing the company of Messi

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Neymar

Both the Manchester clubs as well as Chelsea were keen on this Brazilian star.

So were Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

However, a chance to pair up with Lionel Messi up front meant Neymar chose to join Barcelona ahead of all others.

It was an emotional decision no doubt, but one which came at a price. Neymar cost Barcelona 57 million euros.


Image: Neymar waves flags Barcelona's flags as he acknowledges the fans at his presentation
Photographs: REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

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He preferred Madrid over London

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David Villa

The 31-year-old is the highest goal scorer for Spain. Besides, he has won everything on offer at the club level.

Yet, playing at Barcelona meant being second fiddle to Lionel Messi and, consequently, lack of playing time.

David Villa, having almost signed for Arsenal in January before Barca persuaded him to continue, therefore, decided to move out.

Tottenham Hotspur were the first to make a move, with a 10-million-euro offer.

A deal was all but done when Atletico Madrid came into the picture.

A chance to stay in Spain, as also the lure of Champions League football, meant Villa snubbed the north London club, moving to Vicente Calderon for just 5.1 million euros.


Image: Atletico Madrid's newly signed striker David Villa
Photographs: REUTERS/Juan Medina

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Snubbed United to reunite with Pep

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Thiago Alcantara

Following his impressive showing for Spain at the Euro under-21 Thiago Alcantara was much sought after by Manchester United.

The Premier League champions felt a decent offer, coupled with his lack of playing time at Barcelona, would be enough to get the youngster to Old Trafford.

However, Bayern Munich had other plans, shelling out 20 million euros for the under-21 captain.

A chance to work with Pep Guardiola again made Alcantara's decision easier.

That's the reason he offered for snubbing United.


Image: Bayern Munich's Thiago Alcantara
Photographs: REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

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An antimadridista in Madrid

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Isco

Isco was what they call 'antimadridista' in Spain.

A few years back he was quoted speaking against the club. So Madrid was a club he was unlikely to join.

The fact that Manuel Pellegrini, the 23-year-old's coach at Malaga, joined Manchester City ensured further speculation. Even the Chilean was keen to get Isco to Eastlands.

A bid was prepared. Then Madrid came into the picture. And before City could act, Malaga accepted the capital club's 25 million pound fee.

'Madrid excites me. They are one of the best teams in the world,' Isco was quoted as saying soon after.

The youngster has already started justifying his worth by scoring the winner against Real Betis in the opening match of the new season.


Image: Isco of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring their second goal with teammate Alvaro B. Morata during the La Liga match against Real Betis
Photographs: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

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He preferred Dortmund over Liverpool

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan

A few years back snubbing Liverpool was incomprehensible.

The prospect of playing with the five-time European champions was considered prestigious by almost all the top footballers.

Things have changed a bit, though.

At least, in the case of Henrikh Mkhitaryan it has.

The Anfield club had tabled a lucrative bid for the Armenian playmaker and the deal seemed all but done.

Mkhitaryan though had other ideas. An offer from Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund was all he needed to snub the Premier League for the Bundesliga.


Image: Borussia Dortmund's Henrikh Mkhitaryan kicks a ball during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match against Eintracht Braunschweig
Photographs: REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

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Avoided Manchester, went to Rome

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Kevin Strootman

How many players would snub Manchester United and join AS Roma?

Well, Kevin Strootman has.

Having failed to sign Thiago Alcantara, the Premier League champions had turned their attention to the PSV playmaker.

A 10 million pound bid was made. But neither that amount nor the prospect of playing Champions League football could lure Strootman to England.

Roma benefitted from the snub.


Image: Kevin Strootman of AS Roma in action
Photographs: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

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From London to Donetsk

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Bernard

The former Atletico Mineiro forward had twin successes this summer.

Apart from playing a key role in Brazil's Confederations Cup success, Bernard also helped his club win a maiden Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League.

The youngster palpably became the subject of interest from both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. Bernard was even spotted in London.

However, it was Shakhtar Donetsk who sealed the move, signing him for 25 million euros.


Image: Bernard
Photographs: REUTERS/David Mercado

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Gustavo opted to stay in Germany

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Luiz Gustavo

The most recent player to snub the Premier League.

With regular playing time seeming unlikely with Bayern Munich, and Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari making it clear that he would pick only club regulars for the 2014 World Cup, it was palpable that Gustavo looked for better pastures.

Arsenal, in desperate need to make some signing in the summer, was the first to enter the fray.

But Vfl Wolfsburg tabled a 17 million pound bid and Gustavo didn't hesitate a bit.

The Brazilian later admitted he snubbed the Gunners because he wanted to stay in Germany.


Image: Luiz Gustavo
Photographs: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

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