Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich

Posted: July 29, 2015 in European Football, Football, Opinion
Tags: , , ,


Why do top players, when given the chance to sign for one of the top clubs, invariably choose Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich? Even Manchester United rarely get a look-in if one of these three is involved.

It’s too simplistic to say they are the best teams in Europe. In the last ten years only Barcelona have enjoyed relative success in the Champions league, having won it four times. Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich have each won it once in the same period.

Of the leagues in which they play only the Premier League can be said to be contested by more than two or three teams.

It is understandable that South American players coming to Europe would prefer to be based in Spain for the obvious attractions of climate and language. Also the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and David De Gea would plump for Madrid for similar “home from home” reasons.

Here are some players who could have gone to virtually any club, but chose one of the three: Tony Kroos, (left Bayern for Madrid, nationality German), Gareth Bale, (left Tottenham for Madrid, nationality Welsh), Luca Modric, (left Tottenham for Madrid, nationality Croatian), Franck Ribery, (left Marseille for Bayern Munich, nationality French), Arjen Robben, (left Chelsea for Real Madrid, then left Real Madrid for Bayern Munich, nationality Dutch). There are more, probably less well known, but hopefully you get the picture.

It seems that when top clubs are interested in signing a player, they are fine until one of the three expresses an interest, then they may as well give up.

The reasons generally given for moves to these clubs are now well worn cliches. Gareth Bale, for example, “always dreamt” of playing for Real Madrid and even had the kit. Now it isn’t for me to dispute anything said by Gareth, but why would a kid in South Wales have a Real Madrid kit at a time when they weren’t particularly successful? Tony Kroos said he was going to the biggest club in the world, which may be true, but he was already at one of them in Munich, so why change?

One of the other reasons mooted, never by the players of course, is money. Unless they are incredibly greedy I don’t agree with the money argument. To be honest, if one club is offering 200,000€ per week and another is offering 210,000€ per week, would the extra 10,000€ entice you out of your comfort zone to your second choice club, I doubt it.

So what is the reason? Having weighed up the pros and cons I can reach only one conclusion and that is that the players who go to Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich do so for an easier life.

Real Madrid and Barcelona can offer lots of sunshine, lots of money, and very little competition, so you may get 6 to 8 tough games per season, the rest, while not being a walk in the park will be relatively easy. Maybe Atletico Madrid will challenge them reasonably consistently, but nobody else will.

Bayern Munich can offer lots of money and very little competition. Maybe Borussia Dortmund will challenge them one year, maybe Wolfsburg will. The chances that both will challenge them at the same time are slim.

Go to the Premier league however, and you will have 38 tough games before you even consider the cup competitions. You will play over Christmas and New Year, without a break. You will get lots of money, but you will have to sacrifice more for it. If you are looking for a quiet life with easy money, don’t go to the Premier League.

Occasionally, a player will go to the Premier League citing the “challenge” of playing in the best league in the world and wanting to test himself. These players are worth more respect than the ones who take the “easier” way out in Spain or Germany.

  1. Cathal P Forde says:

    You may very well have hit the nail on the head there, but it amazes me that these so called top players aren’t more up for serious challenges week in week out. I only played amateur football but I would always prefer to play the top sides instead of the ones just making up the numbers. Easy games weren’t as much fun as the tighter tougher matches


    • I think they want competitive games, I just don’t think they want them every week. So they are quite happy to pick up a relatively easy La Liga/Bundesliga winners medal and just have tough games in the Champions League. This seems to satisfy their ambition.


  2. Aaron Abraham N says:

    I think we are very much past the stage to call La liga uncompetitive when compared to EPL. EPL teams are beaten in the Europa League and CL consistently by Spanish teams for past 3 or 4 years now. Teams like Sevilla, Valencia, and Villareal are very tough to play and will surely beat EPL teams of the same position ie outside of top3. Now this is with limited budgets and very low TV revenue share which is unlike in EPL where a below top 10 team gets better TV revenue than Sevilla.


    • I agree with most of what you say but remember, in the blog, I am not saying that the Champions League is uncompetitive, because it isn’t. Yes there are Spanish teams finishing in the top eight who will give the English teams a game in the Europa League and probably win more than they lose. The problem is that they are not competing with Madrid and Barcelona in their domestic league, and this is where the players are going to play ostensibly.


  3. This year PSG Juventus Madrid Bayern and Barca by the latter stages of the Champions League had all won their leagues (bar a complete collapse). The only teams out of these to be competing in their respective leagues by the quater finals of the CL were Madrid and Barca fighting for top spot and Juventus had Roma to compete with in Serie A up until end of Ferbuary. Chelsea should’ve done better considering they had a bit of breathing space in the Premier League but Arsenal City United Liverpool and even Southampton up until late February were dogging for a top four spot never mind challenging for the PL title.

    I agree with you 100%. I actually think the most competitive league after the Premiership is the Championship followed by Serie A. Whether these high profile players choose the other leagues doesn’t bother me because the League that stands out is the Premier League. I no longer take the view that Barca Bayern and Madrid are the best teams in the world for the very reason your article states. The money the Prem is now generating and the way it is shared out again cements the fact that it is the best league. How many goals would Ronaldo or Messi score in the Premier League?. It’s even made easier for these players by the fact that these teams are Golatico teams full of star studded players. Look at the difference in the table come the end of the season.

    La Liga
    Barca 94pts
    Madrid 92pts
    Ath Madrid 14pts behind Madrid on 78pts
    Valencia 77pts
    Sevilla 76pts
    Villereal a massive 16pts behind Sevilla on 60pts

    Barca would have to drop a massive 34pts to drop out of a champions league place this season. Never going to happen.

    Bayern 79pts with a goal difference of +62
    Wolfsburg 69pts goal difference +34
    B Monchenglad 66pts
    Leverkusen 61pts
    and then no where to be seen in 5th place with a massive 49pts is Ausburg

    Again bayern would have to drop a massive 30pts to not make CL place. Never going to happen.

    Now lets look at the prem.

    So the year that Chelsea flew away with the title
    Chelsea 87pts
    City 79pts
    Arsenal 75pts
    United 70pts
    Tottenham 64pts
    Liverpool 62pts
    Swansea who finished 8th are the equivalent gap to the above are 31pts behind Chelsea. So based solely on last season Chelsea would be in 9th position if they were to drop as many points as Bayern were to Drop 30pts to finish fifth.

    Every season is the same. You might get as you pointed out one possibly two teams in Spain fighting for the title but in the Premiership you have 7-8 teams challenging for top four spot never mind challenging for the title. PSG are another club now pulling in the players with good wages easy fixtures and an easier run at CL. Why do people think that English clubs don’t fair as well in the CL compared to the likes of PSG Madrid Barca Bayern. A prime example at the time of writing this reply is the case of Di Maria hoping ship to PSG because he can’t handle the premier league. United are offering him more of a challenge and more money but he is choosing to go to PSG for (family reasons). Watch this space, when Di Maria tally’s up 30+ assists next season for PSG they’ll all be writing in the papers saying that United missed out and that they couldn’t hold onto the player. Fact is he is weak both physically and mentally. He is a terrific player and very skilled but he can’t cope with the pressure. These players want the stardom but fans of the sport are no mugs as the premier league is the most followed league and is BIGGER both financially and competitively speaking than the Champions League.


    • Excellent points and well made! And well done for flagging PSG, they have come to prominence due to the influx of Arab money in the recent past and they are set to dominate their league as the other three do. The only reason I didn’t include them in my original post was because they don’t have the history or tradition of the other three and, a bit like Manchester City, it’s not something you can buy.


  4. vandaldeco says:

    pathetic article. this is exactly why the PL overlooks the youngsters (english) and they complain about the national team not performing at the highest level or tournaments. that is because despite it being more ‘competitive’, they have big foreign stars coming over and taking places of up and coming rising English stars from the reserves etc.


    • Neither myself nor the article disagree with you. One of the reasons the Premier League is competitive is because of foreign “stars” coming over. Not the best ones, they are in Germany and Spain, but some good ones have certainly come to England.
      If, however, as you say this is the reason for the national team not performing at tournaments then what is the excuse for the 26 years prior to the Premier League being formed? As you will know, England won the World Cup in 1966 and haven’t come close to winning anything since.


  5. Mark Wade says:

    you epl lovers never stop to think that maybe, just maybe, the epl instead of being the “best league” is in reality a very mediocre league from top to bottom and that the reason your table looks like the tables from the other leagues minus the top teams (barca bayern real psg) is cuz they all the same quality of teams. those top teams would win by the same number of points in the epl as they do in their own leagues……by more in fact since you epl clowns always bring up the extra games. boo hoo. dortmund, atletico, valencia, sevilla, wolfsburg, bayer leverkusen would all finish near the top in the epl as well.

    but you know what? i actually agree with you, the epl is the most competitive league……..but its due to mediocrity not because it has the best teams. and this is evident by European tournament play where the epl has had only two teams make final 8 and one make the final four teams in the Champions league in the last 3 years and not a single epl team made the final 8 in the europa league the past two seasons. get off your epl high horse and let me know when they do something of worth.


  6. Thanks for the comment, Mark. I agree with you completely in that the EPL is no more than average. The top teams rarely win the Champions League and the mid table teams don’t fare so well in the Europa League. I’m not saying that the EPL is the best league in Europe, I am saying that it is the toughest, physically. Here’s another post on a very similar subject and, again, I think you’ll find we are in agreement.


    • Aaron Ayew says:

      Enjoying the debate on the EPL and perhaps it is that the EPL is such a demanding league full of intense games and without breaks that prevents its teams from focusing on continental glory. But is it not the most interesting and entertaining sports league on our planet week in and week out? The last two seasons my preference is to watch Southampton and Leicester City matches over Real Madrid and Barcelona matches. In the coldest days of the northern winter while CR and Messi are vacationing on the beach the EPL gives us our greatest gift – Boxing Day.


      • Gan says:

        Yes you are right. Match in Boxing Day is good for the EPL fans, but not for their performance in Europe. Also the less important Cup like Carling Cup. Many matches and favourable schedule for fans = Satisfaction for fans, despite how the team performs at Outside of England.
        The League Management by FA can be seen from this standard.
        It’s good to have fans like you, not worry so much about the European achievement.

        Football player is professional, other professionals need time-off for vacation or holidays, to rest their body and mind that related to their productivity on the next phase.

        If less rest = satisfaction of the fans, despite the performance in Europe. Great to hear that.

        Glad to hear that man! Keep this way


  7. Thanks Aaron. I think similarly to you. I live in Spain and rarely watch Spanish football as it is quite boring. Even “El Clasico” isn’t usually a great game of football, but it’s worth watching for the “incidents and accidents.”
    Just to add a little to the debate, here’s a quote from Gerrard Pique on the Spanish teams if they were to be in England:

    “I think that if Barcelona or Real Madrid goes to the Premier League then the first year of playing there, there is no chance of winning it,” he says. Really? “Yes, I think so, because if you go to Stoke, or other types of teams, then it will be really tough. It’s a debate – we could spend hours on it. If Manchester United or Chelsea go to Spain then the same. No chance to win the league.”
    So it’s true: Lionel Messi could not do it (immediately, at least) on a wet November night at the Britannia Stadium?


    • Gan says:

      Pique is objective enough. Both Top Teams from other League won’t perform instantly in other Leagues. It’s called ‘adaption’.

      Same analogy to Messi could not do it immediately, can be used to Cristiano Ronaldo, one of two best players in the world at this moment, at Real Madrid in his first season compared with his successful season at EPL. It’s called “adaptation”. And good news is it’s common.

      In the long run, it is possible for Madrid, Barca, Munich or even PSG to win the EPL. Same thing to Man Utd and Man City winning the La Liga or Bundesliga. The just need to adjust their tactics, players, recipes and mentality with EPL. Then They are good to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Y Ng says:

    Man that is so true so true


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