EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JULY 26: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid during the 2019 International Champions Cup match between Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid at MetLife Stadium on July 26, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)

Even though Premier League football has become a riot of entertainment, replete with goals in almost every game, transfers still attract more interest, more website traffic, more discussion, more debate and more fervour than the actual playing of the sport itself.

So it was that a couple of weeks ago the big story in football was the prospect of Lionel Messi joining Manchester City; the wee man would bring his legendary playing and tax evasion skills to the loving arms of the Premier League.

The reaction to this shone a light on a profound cultural divide in the football firmament. One was “bloody hell I can‘t believe it! Messi! Here! Wow!”. The other was “yeah, whatever”.

While allowing for the ever-present too-cool-for school brigade who don’t want to be impressed by anything – especially anything that other people are impressed by – nonetheless there was a large gap between the saucer-eyes and the shrugging at the news Messi might be heading to these shores.

This was well-illustrated on talkSPORT’s Press Box with Danny Kelly, Simon Jordan and Shaun Custis. The latter was wetting himself at the prospect of the Argie shuffler playing on English soil, the other two not so much.

One side of the debate was having a general aversion to slobbering over the Big Brands, seeing football as a team game and not caring much about whether a great player plays in England or not. After all, you can watch pretty much any player playing pretty much anywhere on TV. For example, many of us are happy seeing Jadon Sancho playing on deutscher boden and will be no more or less entertained (probably less, if truth be told) if he treads on Manchester turf instead.

On the other side, Custis was astonished at their indifference. This was Messi! In the Premier League! For God’s sake, how could you not want to watch the greatest player ever plying his trade at Turf Moor or Craven Cottage?

Surely, everyone would want to see him playing against the likes of Rotherham or Port Vale in the League Cup or even against Manchester United? He was stunned at their relative indifference.

Messi is a Big Brand. And some just love Big Brands per se. Big Brands are more exciting and special. The idea that anyone might not care so much about a Big Brand seems impossible to those who fall at their feet.continue reading

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