The English Premier League (EPL) is the most popular football league in the world, and has attracted some of the world’s greatest players to England’s shores. However, although the EPL continues to have the highest percentage of foreign players of any football league, it has failed to attract some of the game’s biggest legends. In the following segment we explore five stars that have not graced the EPL with their talents.
5. Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon
Ever since signing from Parma to Juventus in 2001, Buffon has become a permanent fixture at the Turin club, and one of the best goalkeepers in the world. In his 17 years with Juventus he has helped them win almost every trophy possible, and stayed loyal to the club when it was relegated in 2006 during the Italian football scandal. When asked why he didn’t take up the opportunity to play for Premier League clubs, Buffon said “I have always been successful here, I would not have changed anything.”
4. Luis Figo
Arriving at the Bernabeu in the summer of 2000 from Barcelona, Figo’s career would take off with Real Madrid. He would earn the coveted Ballon d’Or in 2000 and help Madrid win seven trophies. In the summer of 2005, Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez came very close to signing Figo. However, the deal fell through when, at the last minute, Madrid demanded a £2 million transfer fee.
Figo has said he was always leaning towards Milan rather than Liverpool, and spoke of how he felt more at home at Internazionale. When asked about the deal in an interview with Sky Sports, Figo said, “I had a great offer from Liverpool, but as soon as I got to Milan my mind was made up.”
3. Andres Iniesta
Much like Lionel Messi, the legendary midfielder began his adult career at Barcelona and has been there ever since. Having played over 650 games and scoring the crucial winning goal in Spain’s win over the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final, he has never been tempted to play in England’s top flight. Barcelona FC reported that he recently signed a lifetime contract with the club cementing his refusal to play for any other club.
Always remembered as “the one,” Ronaldo’s European roller coaster career began at PSV Eindhoven, and included spells at Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, before ending at AC Milan in 2007. Regarded as one of the best ever players to grace the pitch, he had scored over 200 goals by the time he was 24. He also made a name for himself on the international stage with Ladbrokes stating that Ronaldo scored both goals in their 2-0 win over Germany in the 2002 World Cup final. Despite his strength, physicality and speed, a combination of knee injuries and lifestyle choices prevented the Brazilian star from ever playing in the EPL.
1. Lionel Messi
The Argentine star has become somewhat of a legend in Barcelona; not merely as a player, but as the heart of a living, breathing football machine. Joining the club’s Under 14 team in 2000, Messi continues to remain at the Spanish club. While many still hope that there is a chance he may play in the Premier League, Catalan scout and Messi’s mentor Josep Colomer disagrees: “I don’t see him in another club. Messi is Messi in the context of Barcelona. I’m not sure he is going to be the same Lionel Messi in another context.”
While any self-respecting football fan would have loved to see these five stars play in the EPL, they are who they are due to the choices they made and the clubs which propelled them. Had they played in the EPL they may have disappointed and their reputations may not have been what they are today. We need only look at talented players like Andriy Shevchenko, Juan Veron, Diego Forlan and Robinho, to name a few, whose careers took a nosedive in the EPL.
Exclusively written for footballfallout.com By RJ Sports Reports