As we enter the 2016-2017 season, finding something new in the German Bundesliga, Italian Series A and French Ligue 1, when it comes to the identity of the champions, is difficult to expect. Juventus, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are in a class of their own professionally and financially, making sure that remains while they weaken their biggest rivals.
Juventus, coming off five consecutive league titles, are not slowing down in their attempt to not just strengthen their grip over Italian football, but make themselves more formidable in Europe, establishing themselves as one of the best sides in the Champions League. They stay true to their formula of not going wild in the transfer market unless there’s more money coming in through sales, and generally counting on a veteran defense and a young attack.
Their rivals? Roma seemed to peak two years ago, and are now struggling to keep up. Miralem Pjanic was signed by Juventus from the Italian capital, adding the Bosnian for €32 million. But the big news might be coming from Napoli, as it looks like Juventus will match his €94 million release clause, which would indicate that Paul Pogba is leaving to Manchester United for €120 million or so. One summer, and two of their biggest rivals most important players (understatement when it comes to Higuain) join them.
This has been a way of life for Bayern Munich, forever the biggest and richest club in Germany, constantly weakening their rivals by offering them things they can’t refuse. That’s mostly focused on Dortmund, who have had to give up on their biggest stars, who can’t help themselves by being blinded by the Bayern lights. Since their two league titles in 2011 and 2012, it’s been a struggle to hold on to players. Robert Lewandowski joined Bayern, and so did Mario Gotze, and now it’s Mats Hummels, who did move up through the Bayern youth system, but once said he’ll never join them. Things change quickly. At least Dortmund got Gotze back, as they went on an impressive shopping spree this summer. They’re a financially healthy club, but they are tiny mice compared to the Bavarian giants.
Compared to all of this piece of business, PSG are rather dormant, which they usually are for some reason in recent years, until the very last moment. It’s hard to pinpoint one main rival they have, as it seems the league is so beneath and beyond them, it really doesn’t matter who raises its head to try and challenge the rich giants. If Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon, maybe the biggest Ligue 1 star outside of Paris, joins them as well (Arsenal are very interested too), it’ll be another depressing sign that French club football is all about one club + 19 fighting for scraps.