A Foreign Player's Guide To Success

Ayanle AliContributor IOctober 11, 2008

Ronaldo, Nani, Tevez, and Berbatov back in his Spurs days, to name just a few. I'm sure most of you guys can agree they are all world class players.

Drogba for Chelsea...Fernando Torres for mighty Liverpool, one Thierry Henry for Arsenal—all three match winners and if you add all seven players who were arguably the best players in the EPL, although they all come from different countries they all have one thing in common...

None of them are exactly from England and that would be okay, except that they are the league's biggest players and, with the exceptions of Wayne Rooney, probably Lampard and most definitely Gerrard,the best of the best from the EPL are all foreigners.

How did this come to being, and what are the reasons that attract foreign players to England?

Lets break it down as simple as we can here, starting off with Cristiano Ronaldo. Plays for Man United on club-level and Portugal internationally, a skillful winger with frightening pace and acceleration.

His precision passing and deadly combination upfront when asked of him are second to none. Then comes his career in Portugal where anyone who watches football constantly will agree isn't the same at all, and one might ask themselves why? What has changed?

The game is the same, his position for most of the time remains as a right winger so why the sudden drop in performance?

In England when Ronaldo plays, he usually faces defenders that are predominantly English and if you have watched the England game for the last 10-15 years it has, and mostly still is, a game of power and physical strength rather then skill and technical ability, so logic has it when you place a player with MINIMAL ability in such a situation, let alone that of C. Ronaldo's calibre, he will impress in that setting.

But when taken abroad, like Ronaldo was in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, then suddenly you face countries that are used to your technical ability and know or are familiar with your game or how you play. A good and fair example would be the season Ronaldo had in the 2005-06 campaign just prior to the World Cup, where he netted a whopping 37 goals in all competitions for Man United, 30 of those goals coming against English opposition in the EPL.

A couple of months later, "best player" Ronaldo goes to Germany for the World Cup and somehow, even with his team's good overall performance, he individually crashes out with what I believe was one goal, which was a penalty. 

He did not impress at all in the tournament. Even more woeful was his international outing for Portugal in the 2008 Euros, where the Portugal team was built around him to spark and yet nothing.

However, previous to the Euro tournament in Austria and Switzerland, he again netted an outstanding 46 goals for his club and again 34 of them came against English defenders. One must ask himself if Ronaldo is only as good as his Manchester United contract is, or can he really play in Spain or Italy where the defenders know him well?

Just think about his Champions league games where teams like A.C Milan and Barcelona can shut him down so easy but against Portsmouth and Aston Villa he's suddenly the best player on the pitch

Another quick but short example would be someone like Thierry Henry. Former Arsenal skipper, Arsenal record holder for most goals in the club, he emerged as Arsenal's top goalscorer for almost every season of his tenure there.

Henry became a prolific striker and Arsenal's all-time leading scorer with 226 goals in all competitions. The Frenchman won two league titles and three FA Cups with the Gunners; he was twice nominated for the FIFA World Player Of The Year, was named the PFA Players Player Of The Year twice, and the Football Writers Association Footballer Of The Year three times.

And after reaching the UEFA Champions League final With Arsenal, he then set his sights on Barcelona, where he is now out of favour—not playing regularly and having trouble playing against "real" defenders.

Now is it a coincidence that Thierry Henry, a striker once feared by defenders in "the greatest league of all time", is now trying to make ends meet and is barely in the first squad for F.C Barcelona?

The EPL is a league I love to watch no doubt, and that's mostly because of Liverpool F.C and my new favorite minnows Hull City. But because you love something isn't reason enough to ignore that there is a problem at hand in the English game.

If my article seems a little far fetched or harsh then ask yourself why are the "Big Four" in England mostly, if not all, foreign talent and when you consider the top players for each club in England, are those names you think of not mostly foreign players?

And when you think about other leagues and their top players are they not mostly home grown talent?

This to me is alarming and the hidden fact is that the Premiership has become a breeding ground of success for most foreigners and if the English F.A. does not properly develop their young players for the future then the English game as we know it today will be no more.