Why La Liga May Have the Most Star Power in the World

Tim Stannard@laligalocaContributor IFebruary 21, 2017

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 18:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona acknowledges his team-mate Neymar of FC Barcelona after an assist during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between FC Barcelona and Ajax Amsterdam ag the Camp Nou stadium on September 18, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Of all the transfer sagas of the past 12 months, only two have really centered on the big hitters of the world game.

The transfers of Neymar and Gareth Bale to Barcelona and Real Madrid topped up the star quality of La Liga almost to the point of engorgement in deals worth in the region of €160 million. 

Indeed, such is the quantity and quality of the game’s big cheeses currently playing in Spain that several names such as Mesut Ozil and Gonzalo Higuain were burped out to other leagues over the recent transfer window, surplus to requirements.

The top six footballers in the 2012 FIFA Ballon d’Or rankings were all from La Liga, although Falcao has since moved to France. 

ISTANBUL, TURKEY- SEPTEMBER 17: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid runs to his teammates as he celebrates the goal against Galatasaray during UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Ali Sami Yen Area on September 17, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Burak K
Burak Kara/Getty Images

Only in Spain is it possible to watch a game and see squads so stuffed with talent that Karim Benzema and Andres Iniesta can be peering at the action from the sidelines. A Superstar XI from La Liga could feature an team containing Iker Casillas, Dani Alves, Jordi Alba, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Leo Messi. The bench would be ridiculously good, too. 

Of course, there is one enormous “but” coming up here.

The list of dazzling mega players here belong to just two teams. And in theory La Liga is a group of 18 more. So whilst it is undeniable that between them Barcelona and Real Madrid blow the rest of the planet away in terms of star power—Ronaldo and Messi pretty much do this alone—there is pretty slim pickings elsewhere. 

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 18:  Neymar of FC Barcelona runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between FC Barcelona and Ajax Amsterdam ag the Camp Nou stadium on September 18, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Ge
David Ramos/Getty Images

This was not the case even a couple of seasons ago when there was talent aplenty around La Liga.

Juan Mata, David Silva, Kun Aguero, Javi Martinez, Fernando Llorente, Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas are just a few names who have left the ranks of the other 18 sides of La Liga, significantly weakening the overall quality of the Spanish game. 

Whilst the big two have been growing chubbier and chubbier, an economic crisis across the rest of the division has lead a constant rush of big name talent abroad to England, Italy and Germany.

In fact, even the recently enriched French league is able to poach megastars such as Falcao. 

Spain certainly has the glamour and star power but it is the English game that has the overall quality with five or six teams all having some hefty gravitational power in their ranks. More often than not, that weight has been lifted from La Liga in the first place. 

Whilst three or four leagues will always be competing to be branded with the mantle as the best in the world, a quality that is close to indefinable, the Spanish game is almost certainly the most glamorous. But only for two matches out of ten, each weekend. 

It is in England where two non-Champions League teams such as Spurs against Liverpool will throw Soldado and Luis Suarez on the pitch together, two strikers who could be leading the line for their countries in the World Cup. Manchester City against Arsenal features Ozil and Aguero. Almost all fixtures in the Premier League feature at least one or two players worth the entrance fee to watch. Getafe against Valladolid does not quite have that boast. One tenth of La Liga may have the star power, but matters do not look so shiny elsewhere.