European Leagues are widely touted as the most lucrative places to play professional football. There is no doubt that European top-flight divisions (and even some lower divisions) offer the best pay checks a football player could dream of. Every young player across the world probably harbours the dream of playing in Europe.
What can be a subject of debate, however, is whether these leagues bring actual value to their individual nations. There can be strong cases for each argument.
World Cup Success
Since the turn of the 21st century, Europe has won three of four World Cups played. Brazil opened the century by beating Germany in the 2002 finals, but that was the last time the cup left Europe. In 2006, Italy collected the top prize in an all-European final against France. Spain then travelled to Africa to collect the 2010 edition before Germany did the same in Brazil 2014. As the action returned to Europe in 2018, France was on hand to receive the crown in Russia.
This is an indicator that even as Europe’s top leagues take in players from other continents and countries, their competitions go a long way in strengthening their national teams.
While the three 21st century winners come from what are regarded as the top five European leagues (Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1), they raise the question of which of these leagues is superior to the others.
France, for example, is the lowest ranked of the five leagues. It is sometimes even called the ‘farmer’s league.’ Yet France won the 2018 World Cup comfortably, with homegrown stars like Kylian Mbappe.
Well, the players that play in the national team often ply their trade outside their host country. Most of Belgium’s 2018 World Cup players, for example, play in England. However, the competitive nature of these leagues definitely has a positive effect on the continent’s national teams.