Since 2005, there have been 14 UEFA Champions leagues. A Spanish team won 8 of them. Real Madrid and Barcelona won 4 times each. The other six times, it went to England thrice, Italy twice and Germany once. Fact is every player wants to win things, and players go where they stand a chance to win items. They want to be part of a winning team.
Every player wants to win the following;
- Domestic League ( especially EPL and La Liga)
- Uefa Champions League
- World Cup ( if their country is not top, there is nothing they can do about it)
On average La Liga does not pay more than EPL or even Bundesliga, but both Madrid and Barca pay the highest salaries, I am sure you know the likes of Messi, Bale, Ronaldo were top-earning players.
For example, let’s consider AC Milan, they are a prestigious club, a major powerhouse in European Football, but would a lot of talented and exceptional players go there now? Yes.
But would they do it when Barcelona are bidding for them? No. Would they have gone there if it was in the mid-2000s, to Kaka’s Milan? There’s a strong chance they might have snubbed Barca or Real. So in short, despite Milan’s great pedigree, they’ve rejected them owing to their current state which isn’t very pleasant. Meanwhile at Barca what awaits him is the experience of playing with the greatest footballer of all time, Leo Messi and much more.
Now let’s consider PSG, a team with little tradition compared to the other greats in Europe. They have a great team and are decidedly doing better than AC Milan currently. But would a player go to PSG, when Real Madrid is actively trying to sign him? He might, but most probably he won’t. So this inspires a question, why did he spurn PSG when they have a team that’s comparable to Real Madrid? The simple answer is the glory that you savor as you adorn the Los Blancos shirt, playing to the roar of the white sea that is the Bernabeu.
Coming to the final point, the combination of the two aforementioned points, what we see is a simple, yet highly difficult to sustain, combination of two things. Class and consistency.
Liverpool, Milan, Inter and Man Utd are monoliths of the game, erstwhile conquerors of Europe, but today they are but a shadow of the behemoths they used to be. Their current scenario is inferior to that of many teams. So players reject them.
At the other end of the spectrum, PSG, Chelsea, Manchester City, etc are great teams now, boasting of teams comparable to Barca and Real, but unlike the likes of Liverpool and United, they lack class that one derives from a glorious tradition.
Barcelona and Real Madrid have always had class i.e. a great European history although Barca isn’t as spectacular as Real in that respect, it still can hold its own against other heavyweights like Liverpool, Bayern, and Milan.
The Spanish duo has also had consistency on their side, they’ve almost always had the best and most exciting players in the world. I mean just a glance at Barca’s former players makes you awestruck, Kubala, Maradona, Cruyff, Koeman, Rivaldo, Romario, Ronaldo, Figo, Ronaldinho, Zubizaretta, to Messi, Iniesta, Puyol, and Xavi. Real Madrid can boast of the same in Di Stefano, Ronaldo, Zidane, Cannavaro, Roberto Carlos, Beckham, Casillas, Owen, Raul, Guti, Figo, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Presently, they have a host of exciting players that are second to none in the world when it comes to quality, so any player would want to play for them, considering their class and their present quality. While Liverpool has made a return, teams like Milan and Man Utd still have mediocre players incomparable to Barca and Real. Bayern is the team that has been classy and consistent but they lack the “glamour” factor of playing for Real or Barca as they don’t usually go for the biggest names in world football like Barca and Real.
Now this might change, their consistency might take a slump and they might become have-been like Milan are right now and the tables might turn as Milan makes an unlikely resurrection.
But as things stand now, they have the history and they have the present, both illustrious and that makes their offers ones that barely a few can refuse.