The EPL and Ronaldo's Departure: Still The Best League In Europe?

Andre BarrinhaContributor IJune 11, 2009

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 16:  Gary Neville the captain of Manchester United lifts the Barclays Premier League trophy as Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on May 16, 2009 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

And so Ronaldo is gone. It only seems right, particularly after United's latest performances showed that Ronaldo was no longer playing for the team, and the team was no longer playing for Ronaldo.

More than for United, however, Ronaldo's departure raises some questions regarding the EPL's dominance among the European leagues.

True, for the second year in a row, three out of the four Champions League semifinalists were English teams, but contrary to the previous year, the winner came from La Liga.

OK, this Barcelona was an extraordinary team, but doesn't Man Utd., just as the other major English clubs, like to see themselves as being extraordinary as well? 

Two or three years ago, the EPL seemed to be on the verge of becoming football's NBA. The best players and best managers were all there, and the ones that weren't, wanted to be. 

It is a very different place today. The three best players in the world—Ronaldo, Kaká, and Messi—are all in Spain, together with the players that won the European Cup (Torres and Xavi Alonso are the major exceptions) as well as the team that won the Champions League.

These are all facts that not even the most elaborate counterargument will be able to deny.

The major problem with the EPL is that despite being the most organized football league in Europe, it still lacks a clear policy to make it the 'undoubtedly best league in the world'.

It does not have teams with the glamour of Barça, Real, or even Milan.

Liverpool and Man Utd. are incredibly famous worldwide but still, I would like to know how many young kids in South America or Europe would rather go to Anfield instead of Nou Camp or Santiago Bernabeu.

The three best players in the world seem to share the same opinion...

Also, it does not have the appropriate football style. In the 1990s, the NBA decided to implement a whole set of new rules in order to bring offensive basketball back after the dreadful finals between the Knicks and the Rockets.

In Britain, everyone seems to be looking away from the fact the game on the island is too physical and, at times, too violent.

Go to any Sunday morning league in the UK and compare with the same type of amateur football that exists in countries like Spain and Italy, and you will see the difference.

Football is about passing and dribbling as much as it is about scoring and running. This is a difficult balance to achieve in a football culture where the kick and rush is still very much present. (This obviously links with the lack of local talent and the physicality of game.)

Changing this culture is not something that can happen overnight, but it will only change if the FA and the EPL actively try to do so.

Thirdly, it does not have a clear policy of promoting home-grown talent. Arsenal is the most ridiculous example, with a squad full of young players, but almost all from outside the country.

The problem with the lack of local talent is that whenever a good player comes up, the hype and the media frenzy surrounding him go way beyond the quality he has shown on the pitch.

This creates stars from nothing that will be overvalued in the transfer market, just to under-perform when playing.

Ronaldo's departure will not mean the end of the EPL as the shining example of globalized football, nor the necessary ascendancy of La Liga to the top of football leagues.

Nonetheless, it leaves some questions and problems that unless tackled, will prevent the Premiere League from affirming itself as the NBA of football.

Until then, it will be the best, but by a very small margin.