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This article was first published 8 years ago  » Sports » Leaving champion clubs... for English Premier League also-rans

Leaving champion clubs... for English Premier League also-rans

August 19, 2015 09:06 IST
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There is something special about the English Premier League. Every player plying his trade in Europe has the tacit dream of playing in England at some stage in his career. takes a look at a players who shunned champion sides for mediocre clubs in the Premier League.

Newcastle's Georginio Wijnaldum in action. Photograph: Lee Smith/Action Images via Reuters

It is not the best league in the world. Whether it is the toughest is something that can be argued.

It pays its players well, but so does the La Liga.

However, there is something about the English Premier League that appeals. Every player plying his trade in Europe has the tacit dream of playing in England at some stage in his career. Moreover, they are not hesitant to compromise.

To cite an example, Memphis Depay moving from PSV Eindhoven to Manchester United makes perfect sense. The latter is a bigger club. The same logic, however, does not apply in the case of his former teammate, Giorgino Wijnaldum.

The 24-year-old last season captained the Eindhoven side to their first Eredivisie title since 2008, and consequently a direct entry in the lucrative Champions League. In July, Wijnaldum joined Newcastle United on a five-year contract, for a reported transfer fee of 14.5 million pounds.

Why would a player leave a champion club to play in a mid-table side?

Why would a player forego the opportunity to feature in the Champions League?

Why would he take such an unnecessary risk at this stage of his career?

In Wijnaldum's case, it doesn't seem worth it. PSV, whatever their financial strength, happen to be the Dutch champions. Newcastle struggled to stay afloat last season!

However, it is such transfers that explain the lure of the Premier League. takes a look at a few other players who shunned champion sides for mediocre clubs in the Premier League.

Salomon Rondon

West Brom's new signing Salomon Rondon is unveiled before a match. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

It was in January 2014 that Salomon Rondon joined Zenit Saint Petersburg from Rubin Kazan, signing a five-year contract worth 15.8 million pounds.

The 25-year-old excelled for Andre Villas-Boas's side, playing a key role in helping them to the Russian Premier League title.

Earlier this month the Venezuelan joined West Bromwich Albion on a four-year-deal, for a club-record fee of 12 million pounds.

From Villas-Boas to Tony Pulis. Does it make sense?

Jeremain Lens

Jermain Lens of Sunderland in action during the Barclays Premier League match against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

One of the brightest prospects to emerge from the Eindhoven academy, Jeremain Lens helped Dynamo Kiev win both the Ukrainian Premier League and Ukrainian Cup last season, without suffering a single defeat in either competition.

Last month, the 27-year-old joined Sunderland, a club that just about survived in the top flight last season, for an undisclosed fee thought to be in the region of 8 million pounds.

Lens might have had to forego an opportunity to play in the Champions League, but a move to the 'Stadium of Lights' has reunited him with coach Dick Advocaat, who managed him at both PSV and AZ Alkmaar.

Yohan Cabaye

Yohan Cabaye celebrates scoring the third goal for Crystal Palace against Noriwch City in their Premier League match at Carrow Road. Photograph: Henry Browne/Action Images

Yohan Cabaye's is a strange case.

The 29-year-old left the Premier League following a big deal only to make a return.

aving helped Lille win the League and Cup double in 2011, Cabaye joined Newcastle on a five-year deal.

From Lille to the Tyneside still makes sense.

However, in January 2014, Newcastle accepted a 19 million pound offer for Cabaye from Paris Saint-Germain.

Cabaye joined the Ligue 1 champions on a three-year deal. He struggled to impress, though, failing to make it to first team and reluctant to fight for a starting berth.

Last month he joined Crystal Palace, on a three-year contract for a club record fee, reuniting with former manager Alan Pardew.

Angelo Ogbonna

Angelo Ogbonna of West Ham United in action. Photograph: Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Now, this move at least seems logical.

Angelo Ogbonna won successive Serie A titles and other trophies with Juventus but failed to land a starting berth.

The 27-year-old, though, played 25 league games last term for the Turin giants.

But when West Ham came calling, Ogbonna didn’t hesitate, joining the Upton Park outfit on a four-year deal worth 11 million euros – to be spread over the next three financial years.

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