THE BLOG

Why Are Premier League Teams Failing in the Champions League?

18/03/2015 17:24 GMT | Updated 18/05/2015 10:59 BST

Let's pretend for a moment that it's April 2008 and that four of the last eight teams remaining in the UEFA Champions League reside in the Premier League.

Although none of these clubs will go on to win the trophy, this is arguably the last instalment of the competition in which English teams seem to genuinely strike fear into Europe's other giants.

Whilst Chelsea famously won the coveted prize in 2012, it would be foolish to think that Roberto di Matteo's side were anywhere near the best team in the tournament that year as they were totally outplayed in both the semi-final and final, relying on a significant slice of luck to win in both ties.

The point here is that although Premier League teams still have an impact on the competition, this has diminished significantly over recent years.

The reason for this? Well, it seems to be that English sides are suffering from a lack of identity. The Premier League does not create, it imports. Until English sides start producing talent instead of hoovering it up, the poor European results will continue.

Looking at the more successful European clubs of recent years, it becomes increasingly clear that these sides have been moulded around a core of home grown talent.

Enter Pep Guardiola's Barcelona and Jupp Heyncke's Bayern Munich.

Both of these teams were built around a few immense characters who had been at the club for a number of years, or even as an academy product.

At the heart of Barcelona were Puyol, Pique, Xavi, Iniesta and of course Messi. Bayern had Lahm, Scwhweinsteiger, Muller and players like Ribery and Robben, who had been at the club for an extended period of time.

When was the last time a Premier League club built a side like this? Manchester United in the 90s? Arsenal's Invincibles?

With unquantifiable amounts of money flooding into the Premier League with every passing season, English teams should be reaching the latter stages of the Champions League in droves.

Why isn't it happening? Because teams are being manufactured, rather than built and nurtured.

The problem is in part to do with the standard of native players, which seems inadequate, though the fact that home grown talent rarely gets a chance and is kept out of teams by imported players does not help.

Take, for example, the story of Harry Kane who looks like he might break the 30-goal mark for Tottenham this season. It is more than fair to say that Kane would not have even gotten a sniff of a chance in the Spurs XI had £26m Spaniard Roberto Soldado not completely flopped.

Such huge incomes mean that Premier League clubs can take risks on buying players, but at the same time this leaves English talent fighting too hard for a place and disrupts a building process that could be achieved by having a group of players learning to play together.

Too many average foreign imports mean that Premier League sides have completely lost their personality. PSG's out muscling of Chelsea is proof of this and such results are likely to continue if the league maintains its current trend of buy, buy, buy.

The new £5bn TV deal means that the Premier League should be flying the flag for European football, but until its clubs starts creating instead of consuming, they will not be able to match those in Europe who nurture and build.

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