The hyperbole machine is in full flow this month.
We’ve been told the best league in the world has returned.
We’ve been told the most entertaining league in the world has returned.
We’ve been told the most competitive league in the world has returned.
Problem is - We’re just not sure if it’s returned to England.
The Premier League hyperbole machine will tell us it has of course.
They’ll tell us just about anything about how eminent the league is.
But it continuously fails to mention the most pertinent description it can offer - the best branded league in the world.
The Premier League has an awful lot going for it.
Off the pitch it’s unbeatable.
It’s on the pitch the problems lie.
Season after season the best the Premier League has to offer seems to be off to La Liga.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the first major talent to leave in recent seasons.
Manchester United’s main man.
He was followed by Cesc Fabrages.
Arsenal’s main man.
Gareth Bale then picked up both player of the year awards.
Then promptly picked up and left.
The trend continued this summer when multiple player of the year award winner Luis Suarez landed in Barcelona.
Yet when we look at the reverse transfer dealings, it’s not the top players or star men of Spanish clubs that head for the shores of England.
As usual, Diego Costa aside, it was another summer of England’s finest picking off what Spain’s finest decided to cast off.
Barcelona decided Cesc Fabregas was surplus to requirements after they signed Suarez.
Alexis Sanchez too.
Much like when Bale arrived last summer and Mesut Ozil was allowed to leave, this year it was the turn of Angel DiMaria who was free to go.
Available for transfer only after Real Madrid had sufficiently bolstered their squad with the best there was to offer.
When it comes to individual awards, the English league’s top players rarely feature either.
Since 2010, only Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic have made the FIFPro team of the year.
Not that the Germans or Italians have featured prominently either.
It’s the Spanish who have dominated completely.
Of the 44 players chosen since the turn of the decade, 34 have come from the Spanish league.
32 players more than the ‘best league in the world’.
Of course, It’s not just the players who make the league.
The teams are primary.
And right now it’s hard to look past the elite of the Spanish and German leagues.
An all Spanish affair in the final of the Champions League last season.
An all German affair the season before.
In fact, if it wasn’t for Chelsea flying the flag for the Premier League, it would be pretty poor reading in the Champions League over the past three seasons.
Manchester City have gone out in the group stages twice and the last 16 once.
Manchester United have gone out in the group stages, the last 16 and the quarter finals.
While Arsenal have not made it past the last 16 any of the seasons.
Even Chelsea, with their triumph 3 seasons ago have exited the competition at the group stage too.
Hardly statistics to back up the title of best league in the world.
Hyperbole will argue that the Premier League is more competitive of course.
It’s only the big two in Spain and the big one in Germany.
A quick look back over the last 10 years reveal otherwise.
All three countries have had a dominant club in the league - Manchester United (5 times winners), Barcelona (6), Bayern Munich (6).
Followed by a secondary team - Chelsea (3), Real Madrid (3), Borussia Dortmund (2).
And some less successful clubs - Manchester City (2), Atletico Madrid (1), Wolfsburg (1) and Schalke (1).
Tough to argue it’s more competitive when only 3 teams have won the league in the last 1o years - the same as it’s La Liga counterparts and 1 less then the Bundesliga.
The battle for the Champions League places, or top four, is even less compelling reading.
Only 7 teams have qualified from England in the last 10 years.
The supposedly less competitive nation of Germany has had 9 qualifiers.
The supposedly even less competitive Spanish league has had 12.
Examining the top 4 of each league last season pours further cold water on the argument of competitiveness.
The top 4 in the Premier League dropped a combined total of 125 points last season.
Only 3 points more than the combined total of the top 4 in both Spain and Germany - equal on 122.
Hardly convincing evidence that the other leagues are dominated by just the elite.
A look further down the league tables suggests the strength lies in the other two leagues as well.
In the last 3 seasons 5 teams from Spain have made the semi-finals of the Europa League, winning it twice.
Just the 1 English representative here - Chelsea again.
In the week that Hull City crashed out before the group stages even begun, it was another reminder of what little success English clubs have had of late compared to their Spanish counterparts.
It’s not all grim reading of course.
The likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal are still up there with the best in the world.
Likewise players such as Angel DiMaria, Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez.
Even the clubs that have competed in the Europa League from England are good clubs who have had success in the past.
All pointing to England’s elite competition being one of the best in the world.
But that’s not being questioned.
The English League is no doubt up there with the best in the world.
It may be that it’s just not the premier league...