The Barclay’s Premier League is regarded as the best football league in the world because of its exciting style, large fanbase, popularity, panache and its position in the world of football.
It’s a league that plays host to 380 matches every season because only 20 teams are allowed to compete. The top four teams qualify for Europe’s elite competition, the UEFA Champions League, while the teams that occupy the fifth to seventh positions as well as the winners of the Carling Cup and the FA Cup get a chance to strut their stuff in the UEFA Europa League.
The Premier League has produced teams of outstanding quality that have dominated European and world football at large. A considerable chunk of the Premier League’s exports are essential pieces in their national team’s jigsaw puzzle, while key players for some Premier League clubs are regarded as world beaters.
In recent seasons, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have excelled beyond measure in the Champions League. Two of the aforementioned teams have won it recently, while the other two had to settle for silver in 2006 and 2008. Liverpool won the competition in dramatic fashion against AC Milan in 2005, and Manchester United won against rivals Chelsea with the grueling aid of a penalty shootout to claim the glory in 2008.
In the days of old, the Premier League used to be an all-British affair with the core players from every club coming from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. But in recent times, the Premier League has become an avenue where ambassadors representing different continents unite for the good of the beautiful game.
Africa has produced great players who have graced the Premier League, including Jay Jay Okocha (Bolton Wanderers 2002-2006), Didier Drogba (Chelsea 2005-present), Michael Essien (2005-present), Frederic Kanoute (West Ham 1999-2003, Tottenham 2003-2006) and much more.
Asia also had its contingent who has placed its mark in the Premier League with the most notable figureheads being Park Ji-Sung (Manchester United 2005-present), Lee Chung-Yong (Bolton 2009-present), Seol Ki-Hyeon (Reading 2006-2008, Fulham 2008) and Hidetoshi Nakata (2005), among others.
Australia has produced Premier League stalwarts like Harry Kewell (Leeds United 1996-2003, Liverpool 2003-2008), Mark Viduka (Leeds United 2000-2004, Middlesbrough 2004-2007, Newcastle United 2007-2009) and Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers 2003-present) who have played in the league for a very long while.
North Americans who flew over the Atlantic to play in the Premier League are not much, but Brad Friedel (Liverpool 1997-2000, Blackburn 2000-2008, Aston Villa 2008-2010, Tottenham 2011), Clint Dempsey (Fulham 2006-present), Landon Donovan (Everton 2009), Stuart Holden (Bolton 2009-present), David Hoilett (Blackburn 2005-present), Carlos Vela (Arsenal 2005-present) and others have done the continent proud with their performances.
South Americans don’t thrive too well in the Premier League, but Gilberto Silva (Arsenal 2004-2008), Juan Sebastian Veron (Manchester United 2001-2003, Chelsea 2003-2007) and Diego Forlan (Manchester United 2001-2005) flew the continent’s flag and moved away years after. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez is now the flag bearer of the continent, and he’s doing exceedingly well.
Europeans rule the Premier League in terms of numbers, but all these players from different continents come together to play in the Premier League because they were bought by the clubs that wanted their services. This season, money has been spent to acquire players, and transfer activity has been going on from when the window opened in June until August 31, when it’s going to end.
Here’s my take on the top 20 transfers in the Barclay’s Premier League so far.
Sergio Kun Aguero started his career in 2002 at Independiente in the Argentina Apertura, making 54 league appearances and scoring 23 goals in his four years at the club. In 2006, he sealed a £20 million move to Atletico Madrid. He earned legendary status there, wowing the fans at Spain’s capital and scoring goals at consummate ease.
In 2007, he won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, and in the 2007-08 Liga BBVA season, he was the Spanish Player of the Year first runner-up to Villarreal’s Marcos Senna.
Aguero completed a £40 million switch to Manchester City, and he has proved he is worth the large outlay by scoring three goals in his first two games. The pick of the bunch was the thunderbolt he unleashed when Manchester City hosted Swansea in the club’s curtain raiser.
Born on the 28th of April, 1988, in the city of Oviedo, Spain, Juan Manuel Mata started his career in Real Madrid’s youth ranks in 2004 before stepping up to Real Madrid Castilla two years later. In his time at Castilla, the left-footed youngster made 35 Liga Adelante appearances and scored 10 goals. But that was his last act as a Real Madrid player because Valencia CF snapped him up on a free transfer.
In the Mestalla, Mata has flourished as a player and has been very consistent for the Spanish outfit. In his first season at the club, he made 24 Liga BBVA appearances and scored five goals. In his second season in Valencia, he was ever-present for the club and missed only one league match all season long, scoring 11 in the process. Mata became a household name in Valencia after the club’s biggest assets—David Villa and David Silva—were sold out after seasons of courtship from many suitors.
Mata hasn’t won anything at club level, but the three medals he has amassed have been won in the national team colors of Spain. In 2006, he won the European Under-19 Championships before winning the 2010 World Cup with Spain last summer. He was voted as the MVP in the recently concluded European Under-21 Championships that took place in Scandinavia. Spain also emerged as the winners of that tournament.
Mata completed a £27 million move to Chelsea and had an impressive debut that was sealed with a placed effort to clinch the tie for Chelsea against Norwich.
Samir Nasri began his career in 2003 at Olympique Marseille and stayed in the club for five years, making 121 league appearances and scoring 11 goals. In his time at Marseille, he won the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2005 and was honored with the Ligue 1 Most Promising Player award in 2007. Nasri also won the Under-17 European Championships with France in 2004.
In 2008, Nasri made a £12 million switch to Arsenal, and he amassed a total of 125 appearances, scoring 27 goals and laying 17 assists for his teammates. He recently made a £25 million move to Manchester City, and he flourished on his debut with three assists.
Jordan Henderson is a player who owes his footballing career to Sunderland for nurturing from an early age before Liverpool came for his services this summer.
He began his career in 2006 and has been at the club ever since, although he had a brief loan spell at Coventry City in the winter of 2009. Henderson probably commanded such a hefty transfer fee because of his age and potential. He has done well to open his Liverpool account with a well-taken goal against Bolton.
Stewart Downing is a cultured left-winger who has been a household name in English football. He began his career at Middlesbrough in 2001 and spent seven good years at the club. In his time at Middlesbrough under the tutelage of Steve McClaren, he won the Carling Cup in 2004 after defeating Bolton before a devastating 4-0 loss to Sevilla in the Europa League final.
Downing also suffered the agony of relegation in 2009, so he made a £12 million switch to Aston Villa at the start of the 2009-10 campaign and caught the eye of many suitors before Liverpool came calling.
Downing would have had a dream debut for the Reds, but his effort smashed the cross bar after a jinking run that saw him dribble past three to four Sunderland players.
Trickery, technique and pace are the three words that can be used to describe the canny winger known as Ashley Young. He began his career at Watford in 2002, and he spent five years at the club. Four were in the npower championship, while the fifth was in the Premier League. But Watford got relegated back to the lower division.
Young left Watford for Aston Villa in 2007 and became a star player with his style of play, which was epitomized by his amazing technique that won him the PFA Young Player of the Year award in the 2008-09 season.
Young completed an £18 million move to Manchester United and has been sent into the thick of things by Sir Alex Ferguson. He had a hand in Manchester United’s winner against West Brom, but nobody can dispute the sumptuous goals he scored at Old Trafford when Manchester United mauled Arsenal.
This is a youngster who came of age in the 2008-09 season after his exploits for Atletico’s second-tier squad in the Liga Adelante.
David de Gea started his footballing career in Atletico Madrid in 2005 but remained patient at the club before getting his breakthrough season in the 2009-10 campaign, where he played more than half of Atletico’s league games thanks to the uncertainty of Sergio Asenjo.
De Gea completed a £16 million switch to Manchester United and arrived at the club when a goalkeeping legend in the form of Edwin van der Sar left, so the burden of expectation was firmly on de Gea’s shoulders.
His debut against Manchester City was marred by a long-range volley he conceded to Edin Dzeko. His league debut against West Brom didn’t help matters after he conceded another weak goal to Shane Long. A clean sheet against Tottenham followed, but he showed his worth when Arsenal visited Old Trafford with a penalty save against Robin van Persie as well as other outstanding saves he made in the game.
With age creeping slowly on the world’s most expensive defensive signing, Rio Ferdinand, Sir Alex Ferguson has gone to Blackburn to inject fresh youth to understudy Ferdinand. Phil Jones started his career in 2007 and waited for two years before making his debut for Blackburn at the age of 17.
Manchester United faced a slight battle with Arsenal for Phil Jones’ services, but the 19-time champions got the nod ahead of the Gunners. With injuries suffered to Ferdinand and Vidic, Jones has already started his Manchester United career, and he has been pretty impressive in the games he has played so far.
Gervais Yao Kouassi was born on May 27th, 1987 in Anyama, Ivory Coast. In his days at the ASEC Abidjan academy, his Brazilian coach derived a nickname from his first name Gervais.
Gervinho got his big break in Beveren of Belgium before Le Mans bought him for £5.75 million. Two seasons, 59 league appearances and nine goals later, LOSC Lille Metropole acquired his services for £5.75 million, and he scored 28 goals in 68 appearances for the League and Cup double winners.
Gervinho joined Arsenal for a fee of £11 million, and he has grown into an important player for the club after his brilliant performance in the Champions League playoff phase against Udinese. He got sent off on his Arsenal debut following a clash with Joey Barton.
This left-footed bloke began his career in French Ligue 2’s Le Havre, but he was swooped for £1 million by Newcastle in 2004. He played in St. James Park for five seasons, but his Newcastle career was cut short because he was involved in a part exchange deal for Wigan’s Ryan Taylor.
N’Zogbia’s career blossomed in Wigan, and he has the option of a fresh challenge in the form of Aston Villa, who bought him for £10 million as a replacement for Ashley Young.
N’Zogbia certainly has some shoes to fill.
Mikel Arteta started out as a trainee with FC Barcelona in 1999 but could not break his way into the first team. He was eventually loaned to Paris Saint-Germain in the French league for two seasons.
He was then signed by Scottish Premier League giants Rangers, with whom he would win the domestic treble of the league, Scottish Cup and League Cup in the season of 2002-03.
After success in Scotland, he moved to back to Spain to play for Real Sociedad but failed to establish himself within the first team and was loaned to Everton for the remainder of the 2004-05 season. He would then sign a permanent transfer.
In Everton, Arteta became a household name and amassed 161 appearances and 27 league goals in six years at the club.
He recently joined Arsenal in a late transfer deadline deal
The technically gifted started his career in 2002 at Rangers of Scotland, but he had a loan spell at St. Mirren in 2005 where he helped them win the Scottish First Division and the Scottish Challenge Cup.
Adam made his transition into England in 2008 with Blackpool and was instrumental in their Premier League charge in the 2010-11 season that untimely ended in relegation.
Liverpool bought him for £8 million, and he has already gotten his name on the score sheet when Liverpool thumped Bolton at Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger bought Clichy in 2003 from AS Cannes to deputize Ashley Cole in the worst injury crisis. Clichy stayed under Cole’s shadow until he departed controversially in 2006.
Clichy monopolized the left-back position for the best part of five years before his departure for Manchester City this summer.
Liverpool bought him for £8 million, and he has already gotten his name on the score sheet when Liverpool thumped Bolton at Arsenal.
Per Mertesacker started his career in his hometown club of Hannover, playing 74 league games for the club from 2003 to 2006.
He then switched to Werder Bremen for €5 million and played with the outfit for five years, amassing a total of 142 league appearances.
He recently made a £7 million switch to Arsenal.
Leaving LOSC Lille Metropole to Newcastle was probably one of the hardest decisions in Yohan Cabaye’s life because he had been at the French outfit all his life.
He started his football career in 2003 and played a large chunk of matches for Lille, and he was also part of the team that won the French League and Cup double last season.
Newcastle bought him for £4.5 million, and he has been touted as a good outlay because he has forged an understanding with Cheik Tiote in the middle of the park.
John O’Shea has done it all it Manchester United. Since his arrival in 1998, O’Shea has played in every possible position football as a sport has to offer, and I was in the opinion that the only left thing for O’Shea was to wear a suit, eat some gum and coach Manchester United. But he never had that chance because he has been sold to Sunderland.
Everyone thought that O’ Shea would end his career in Manchester United, but his chances were getting limited, and with age creeping in slowly on the player, a move away from Manchester United was in his best interest.
The Premier League has been blessed with devoted servants down the years, and Seamus James Given has kept that flag flying.
He signed for Blackburn Rovers as far back as 1994 and stayed with them for three seasons. He had his longest spell serving Newcastle United from 1997 to 2009 before moving to Manchester City but Joe Hart’s emergence limited the aging goalie to meager Carling Cup appearances.
Aston Villa offered Shay Given a chance to play football week in and week out, and the lure was much more than the greens he was earning at the Eastlands.
Benjamin Anthony Foster is the classic example of a football nomad.
In just 10 years of active football that began in 2001, he has played for RC Warwick, Stoke City, Bristol Rovers, Tiverton, Stafford, Kidderminster, Wrexham, Manchester United, Watford, Birmingham and West Brom. Most of the moves have been loan moves, though.
West Brom will offer Foster another chance to show his abilities even if he tends to be eccentric from time to time.
Sebastian Larsson was a trainee at Arsenal for the best part of six years from 2001 to 2006, and he got his breakthrough when he was sent on loan to Birmingham in the 2006-07 campaign.
After impressing Steve Bruce, Arsenal was approached with a £1 million offer for the young lad, and it was duly accepted. Larsson became an integral part of Birmingham football club and fashioned himself into a dead ball specialist.
With Birmingham relegated and his contract expiring, he chose not to renew it, so he was approached by the same manager who bought him from Arsenal, Bruce. He repaid the boss’ faith with a stunning scissors kick on his debut against Liverpool.
That was a goal that silenced the Kop.
Joseph Anthony Barton might not be your favorite character in the Premier League series, but he has one of the best cultured right feet you’ll ever see.
He’s a technically gifted player who can loft balls with consummate ease but off the ball, he can be a very fiery character. He started his career at Manchester City in 1999 and served the club for seven seasons before making a £5.75 switch to Newcastle in 2007.
He has also been a loyal servant to Newcastle, but he was snapped by Queens Park Rangers on a free transfer after his contract expired. Barton has had many off-the-ball issues that has made him a notorious figure and his Nazi-like hairstyle hasn’t helped his cause either.
Barton will definitely be a nice bargain for Neil Warnock’s QPR.
With more players expected to make final deadline transfer moves, it’s going to be another frantic period. But these signings will have to do well to impress the manager who requested them, the fans who’ll pay to see them week-in and week-out and the boards that brought out the liquid cash.
Some will shine brighter than the sun, while some will flop like Andriy Shevchenko and Fernando Torres.
Hope you enjoyed reading the article.
This article was written by Toni Okike, a writer of an Arsenal blog called Gooner Daily.