With both the UEFA EURO 2016 and the COPA AMERICA Centenario tournaments behind us, we are now in somewhat of a downtime when it comes to the Beautiful Game. Although the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have kicked off last Friday, the Olympic Games football tournament is traditionally not nearly as exciting as any other worldwide tournament. Having said that, the Mercato's Summer 2016 transfer window surely managed to keep us - lovers of the Beautiful Game - on the edge of our seats. So much has happened over the last few weeks that I have no choice but to predict that the British Premier League (BPL) will most defintely be the most exciting league of the 2016-17 campain. Here are three (3) reasons to explain my position.
A better parity among the teams
Besides the traditional top class franchises we all know, a fair amount of teams - normally classified as underdogs - shrewdly worked their way on the top half of the table last season. This parity amongst competing teams is very unusual in the world of football - a world where the survival of the fittest is the only thing that counts. And our dear oil well friends from the Arabic Peninsula surely demonstrated it over the last decade. But this time, it's different! And it surely proves to North Americans (like me) that a league does not necessarily need an imposed salary cap per team to keep a good level of competitiveness within the league.
Let's examinate the results from the 2015-16 campain. Some teams normally ranked at the table's basement have made their way in the Top 10. Leicester City - who has not been promoted to the Premier League since the season of 2003-04 - has managed to go from a promotion (from the second division) to winning the Championship under Ranieri's command. From 0 to 100! Chelsea FC - on the other hand - top class team - evaluate as the 6th richest football team in the world with 1.36 billions USD of net value - has ended the season in a shameful 10th position. So we might as well say that this year all bets are off and anything can happen. Place your bets!
This scenario is sure more interesting to watch than a league where a pool of two superteams trade places as champion from one year to another. Eversince the Qataris bought PSG, the Ligue 1 is nothing but PSG. The only question arising from year to year is whether a team will lose 5-nil or 6-nil. Boooring! Same goes with the Serie A's Juventus, the Bundesliga's FC Bayern München or La Liga's FC Barcelona or Real Madrid. To put on a good show, you need excitement. And for that excitement, you need parity!
The biggest managerial battle ever is upon us
Along with the well established managers of the BPL such as the coaching legend Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp - who joined the BPL towards the end of the last campain (2015-16) - some other iconic figures have made their move to the Land of Hope and Glory. Among these figures are listed Pep Guardiola (Manchester City) and Jose Mourinho (Manchester United) and Antonio Conte (Chelsea FC). These people need no description as any true football fan clearly knows about them. Sorry for the others... not!
Not only these coaches are highly skilled in leading their team to glory, but they are real game changers. They are true artists as they have very colorful characters and are often misunderstood - but always deliver on their promise of excellence. They have the ability to completely transform a team while installing their ideology into their managing team. I have witnessed more than once a true transformation of gameplay, strategy, field positionning, etc. The transformations are sometimes so drastic that they can be of the order of 'Steve Rogers to Captain America' or even 'Bruce Banner to The Hulk'.
Having all of these elite managers in the same basket represents a true Clash of Titans as we cannot foresee the outcome of the next season. Though one thing is for sure - only one can win the Championship and it will be brutal!
The Mercato is going nuts
Managers - these true kingpins of their respective organizations did not waste anytime as the transfer window was upon them. Many were very active in their quest for building the perfect team. They are literally trying to create it at their image before the Mercato's transfer deadline. The attention here is above all drawn to the amount of highly valued players who are coming from other leagues in Europe to join the BPL. Just like their new managers, I believe these players will highly contribute to the increased level of competitiveness within the BPL.
Amongst these players, the most notable ones to my eyes are Granit Xhaka (Borussia Monchengladbach -> Arsenal), Nolito (Celta Vigo -> Manchester City), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St-Germain -> Manchester United), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Borussia Dortmund -> Manchester United) and Paul Pogba (Juventus -> Manchester United). Other notable transfers were made such as Steve Mandanda (Marseille -> Crystal Palace) and Fernando Llorente (Sevilla -> Swansea City). Let's see what kind of magic these football prodigies can bring to the league this season.
The transfer window will remain open until the end of the month and I am looking forward to these transfer alerts appearing at random moments on my cellphone screen. It has become almost as - some might even say more - entertaining as - then - a mexican telenovela. We are only episodes away from the grand finale and I sure can't wait until the season kickoff - on August 13 of 2016 - as the defending champion - Leicester City - will be facing Hull City.