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Todd Boehly has already made his mark on English football after setting a Premier League record spend of over £270million in a summer and sacking Champions League-winning coach Thomas Tuchel after only seven games.
But Chelsea’s new American co-owner is not done yet, and he believes that the Premier League – one of the richest and most successful competitions in global football – stands to learn a thing or two from the money-making methods of American sport.
In a wide-ranging interview at the SALT conference in New York, the 48-year-old said: ‘I hope the Premier League takes a little bit of a lesson from American sports and really starts to figure out, “Why wouldn’t we do a tournament with the bottom four teams? Why isn’t there an All-Star game?”
‘You could do a North vs South All-Star game in the Premier League and fund whatever the pyramid needed very easily. Everyone likes the idea of more revenue for the League.’
So if the Premier League was to stage an American-style All-Stars game, pitting the biggest stars from northern clubs against the best the south has to offer in an exhibition contest, who would make the starting XIs?
Chelsea owner Todd Boehly has suggested a Premier League North v South All-Star game
The northern XI:
Goalkeeper – Ederson (Man City)
Probably one of the hardest picks across both teams, the goalkeeper position for the team from the North is a tightly-contested position fought between the two best keepers in the league.
Alisson may have the No 1 shirt for Brazil, but Ederson takes the spot in this team after providing City with the foundation to build on for their four titles in five seasons.
He beats Alisson for penalty saves (3-1), clean sheets (94-66), accurate long passes (725-574), catches (22-18) and high claims (82-63), albeit in 46 more games. The Reds’ No 1 does have a goal to his name, but with 43 more wins more than his rival, Ederson clutches takes the gloves for the northern XI.
Manchester City’s Ederson starts in goal having managed 94 Premier League clean sheets
Defenders – Andrew Robertson (Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Man United), Joao Cancelo (Man City)
In a back-four, the defensive slots are filled by two Liverpool players, Robertson and van Dijk, United’s superstar Varane, and City’s Portuguese full-back Cancelo.
Andrew Robertson has earned his place in the side through years of hard graft at the likes of Queens Park and Dundee United, Hull and eventually Liverpool, and has gone on to join an elite group of left-backs to win a league-Champions League-Club World Cup triple crown. The Scottish international’s incessant work up and down the left flank, as well as his lethal crossing ability, make him a must in the side.
Andrew Robertson has won every available club trophy he has compete for at Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk’s arrival sparked a change in Liverpool’s attempts to win the Premier League
There isn’t much that hasn’t already been said about Virgil van Dijk – not only is he perhaps the best centre-half in the world at the moment, but he plays with the class and effortless ease of a Rolls-Royce. He strides into the line-up uncontested.
Alongside the Dutch international is French defender Raphael Varane who seems to have already won almost every trophy available to him. His first season at United did not quite go the way he would have wanted it to, but with four Champions League titles and a World Cup, Varane deserves to be regarded as one of the biggest names in world football.
City’s Joao Cancelo fought off a late charge from Trent Alexander-Arnold with his versatility, work-rate and slippery ball skills. He already has two Premier League winners’ medals and is one of the league’s most prodigious passers, averaging 72 per match.
Another full-back who works hard at both ends of the pitch, he not only has 22 big chances and 10 assists to his name, but also managed a staggering 127 interceptions in just 84 appearances.
Rapahel Varane joined Manchester United in 2021 after four Champions League wins in Madrid
Joao Cancelo (right) is equally capable on the right or left of the Manchester City defence
Midfielders – Casemiro (Man United), Kevin de Bruyne (Man City), Bruno Fernandes (Man United)
Team North’s midfield line-up is comprised of Bruno Fernandes as a No 10, with Casemiro doing the less glamorous work ahead of the defence, and Kevin de Bruyne sandwiched between the two Manchester United players.
If you were to look up “modern holding-midfielder” in the dictionary, it would probably just point to a big picture of Casemiro’s face. Casemiro’s success came with Real Madrid, but there is no denying his ability. He formed potentially the greatest midfield trio of all time with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, and although his role rarely left him in the spotlight, it is doubtful that Real would have achieved what they have without him.
De Bruyne breezes into the side, as he likely would at any team in the history of football. A joy to watch in full flow, de Bruyne has 90 assists and 58 goals in 218 league appearances, is one of the most astute passers of a ball and is the owner of two Playmaker awards, two Goal of the Month awards, two Player of the Season titles and four Premier League winners’ medals. No argument really.
The third midfielder in this 4-3-3 formation is Fernandes. Few players have catalysed a team like the Portuguese did when he joined United, and has gone on to register 51 goals and 40 assists in 133 games, quickly becoming one of the finest attacking-midfielders in Europe. He also adds a keen-eye from the penalty spot, but there is no stumbling or stuttering on his way into this side.
Casemiro is yet ot make his Premier League debut but was a serial winner at Real Madrid
Kevin de Bruyne has become arguably the world’s best attacking midfielder in recent years
Bruno Fernandes has 51 goals and 40 assists for Manchester United since his 2020 arrival
Forwards – Cristiano Ronaldo (Man United), Erling Haaland (Man City), Mo Salah (Liverpool)
Cristiano Ronaldo is the third United player to make the cut, joining Norwegian 22-year-old Erling Haaland and Liverpools Egyptian icon Mo Salah for a front three hailing from the three biggest northern sides.
It’s a front three that makes for truly terrifying reading, and there is no player who has terrorised defences more often than Ronaldo. Anyone who can hold their own when compared to Lionel Messi gets into this team with no debate.
Aside from his five Ballons d’Or, five Champions Leagues and 19 top-scorer awards from 10 different competitions, Ronaldo has proven that age is just a concept, scoring 18 league goals last season. There is nobody in world sport that is more suited to an All-Star game, and he demands a place in this one, too, especially given the American concept of including the biggest names.
Cristiano Ronaldo (right) scored 18 goals in his comeback season for United in 2021-22
The player leading the line has only played six games in the Premier League, but Haaland starts already has 10 goals from six games, and is on course to shatter every goal-scoring record in existence. He is only 22-years-old, but he is already rivalling the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema for the title of the best No 9 on the planet.
On the right flank is Salah, who was once sold by Chelsea because he wasn’t deemed ready for the Premier League. Much like Michael Jordan, he clearly took that personally, as since his return to the division, no player has managed more combined goals and assists. in 199 appearances he has 171 goals and assists, and has three golden boots from his first five seasons with Liverpool. There is no better right-forward on the planet, so he is probably good enough for this XI.
Erling Haaland has already broken several Premier League records in just six appearances
Mo Salah needs one more Premier League Golden Boot to hold the joint record of four awards
Manager – Pep Guardiola (Man City)
Another tight decision, this time with Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, but Pep Guardiola is the man to mastermind Team North in an All-Star clash.
Widely regarded as the greatest tactician in modern football, Guardiola has lead his sides to a startling 32 major honours in his career at the top, turning City into one of the top teams in the world.
His erratic gesturing and energy on the touchline add some spectacle to the affair, but none of it is for show. A football obsessed, serial winner, Guardiola has to be in the dugout after just 30 losses in 234 games, scoring 2.5 goals a game on average (585 total goals).
Pep Guardiola has won 32 major honours as a manager at three different teams
The southern XI: Goalkeeper – Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
For the southern team, Hugo Lloris takes the gloves almost uncontested. An argument could be made for Aaron Ramsdale or Edouard Mendy, but the Frenchman has long been regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in world football.
He may not have won a trophy in England, but he has made over 900 saves in 342 appearances, as well as five penalty saves, almost 2000 accurate long passes and 112 clean sheets.
Despite a few more mistakes creeping into his game of late, Lloris is the clear choice for Team South’s No 1.
Hugo Lloris has been Tottenham’s No 1 for over a decade and has kept 112 clean sheets
Defenders – Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal), Thiago Silva (Chelsea), Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea), Reece James (Chelsea)
Team South’s back four is unsurprisingly dominated by Chelsea names, with Reece James preferred at right-back alongside Thiago Silva and Kalidou Koulibaly at centre-back, while Oleksandr Zinchenko represents Arsenal on the left flank.
Zinchenko was a player Pep Guardiola could rely on to do a job in several different positions, and came up clutch for City when brought on at half-time against Aston Villa in the final game of the season to seal a three-goal turnaround and win the league. The attacking-midfielder turned left-back now plays at Arsenal, but no left-back in the league now has more titles than the Ukrainian.
Oleksandr Zinchenko won each of the Premier League, League Cup and FA Cup with City
Thiago Silva has spent 13 seasons playing at the highest level, often captaining his side
Silva lines up at the heart of the southern defence alongside his new team-mate Koulibaly to form the foundations of a sold spine for the side. Silva has performed at the highest level for 13 years – and counting – and brings eons of leadership experience, over 100 Brazil caps, and in 61 league games he already has 197 clearances and 88 interceptions. He likely takes the armband, too.
Koulibaly joined from Napoli this summer after incessant links with virtually all of Europe’s top clubs. A natural leader, the Senegalese defender is a robust tackler and a physical presence at centre-back. He has already recovered the ball 29 times and won 28 duels in five appearances, making him the perfect partner for Silva, who’s legs might be missing a yard of pace at 37.
The third Chelsea defender to make the side, James is leaps and bounds ahead of the chasing pack in the South. Adept as a traditional right-back and as a wing-back and even a centre-half, James is impossible to keep out of the game. He boasts electric pace, a killer right-foot from dead ball situations and a willing runner, the England international would give Cancelo headaches all game
Kalidou Koulibaly only joined Chelsea this summer but is one of the game’s premier defenders
Reece James is equally impactful at either end of the pitch and is potent from set-pieces
Midfielders – Declan Rice (West Ham), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)
Declan Rice comes in for West Ham’s sole participant for Team South, and he adds his box-to-box capabilities to Chelsea defensive-midfielder N’Golo Kante and Arsenal playmaker Martin Odegaard.
Rice is often discredited by being labelled a defensive-midfielder, but his ability to influence the game at both ends of the pitch is truly Steven Gerrard-esque. He not only has the best nickname in football – ‘the Basmati Busquets’ – but he has forced himself into the starting line-up in one of the most exciting England sides in a generation. Another leadership figure in the southern XI, Rice comes in as a No 8.
Kante probably represents the antithesis of American All-Star games. The quiet, humble, restrained French midfielder may not seek the spotlight, but it certainly seeks him due to his inexhaustible energy on the pitch. Another World Cup winner, Kante has plagued opposition players in the league for eight seasons now, registering 676 tackles, 504 interceptions, 215 clearances and 1,673 recoveries. There is no greater midfield disruptor.
In the No 10 role is Odegaard, who has starred as Arsenal’s new captain. Signed by Real Madrid as a 16-year-old in 2015 it looked like his career had fizzled out, but 17 goal contributions in 56 games mean Gunners fans are getting a front row seat to watch one of Europe’s most exciting talents begin to deliver on his promise. Odegaard will stand over free-kicks with James and be in charge of corners for team South.
Declan Rice inherited the West Ham captaincy after Mark Nobles departure last season
N’Golo Kante has won two Premier League titles as well as the 2018 World Cup with France
Martin Odegaard has starred for Arsenal with three goals as they sit top of the Premier League
Forwards – Raheem Sterling (Chelsea), Harry Kane (Tottenham), Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal)
Team South’s front line is very fluid, comprising of Raheem Sterling for Chelsea, and his former team-mate Gabriel Jesus in Arsenal red and Spurs’ talisman Harry Kane leading the line.
Raheem Sterling was at the forefront of Guardiola’s Man City project for six seasons, and has not only scored 112 league goals, but provides assists too, doing so 57 times in 326 games. At only 27 years old, the England star has a chance to break the record for most appearances in the league, and he has been one of the division’s leading players for almost ten years now. He claims the left-flank, but will happily play a role in any of the front-three positions.
Gabriel Jesus has four Premier League winners’ medals with City
Is there much point listing reasons why Harry Kane should start up front? On course to break Alan Shearer’s all-time record of 260 goals, Kane is capable of scuffing home easy chances from two yards out, and curling home screamers from outside the box in north London derbies. There is quite simply nothing the England forward cannot do. He will probably retire as the greatest striker to ever play in the league, but hopefully not for a while yet.
The second Team South player to make the move to Arsenal from City, Gabriel Jesus has been a revelation leading the line for the Gunners already this season. But his work at the Etihad has seen him crowned Premier League champion four times in six seasons, having scored 61 goals and assisted 35 more in 165 league appearances. The Brazilian as good coming off the flanks as he is through the middle, and completes a well-balanced, fluid front three alongside Kane and old team-mate Sterling.
No Premier League player has scored more goals for one team than Harry Kane has at Spurs
Raheem Sterling also left Man City this summer for the capital, joining west London’s Chelsea
Manager – Antonio Conte (Tottenham)
And staying with Spurs, Antonio Conte is the man in the dug out for the southern XI, as the only manager in the south to have ever won the Premier League, doing so with Chelsea in 2016-17, having pioneered the three-at-the-back movement in England.
He is one of the most box-office managers in world football, whether it be screaming with delight after a goal for his side, running the length of the pitch to celebrate with his supporters, or being fined after altercations with other managers after the final whistle.
Conte is non-stop action, and his energy – alongside five league titles in England and Italy – make him the perfect candidate for an exhibition-style match
Antonio Conte would mastermind Team South’s preparations in a hypothetical All-Star clash
Who has the better team?
On the face of it, it looks like Team North would edge it – but not by much.
The obvious goal threat of the northern side’s front three is almost matched by Team South, with Ronaldo not the player he once was and Kane rivalling any striker in the world for goals.
The midfield battle looks to be the most interesting, with the obvious attacking flair of the northern side almost entirely match for defensive disruption in the southern XI, with Odegaard looking to pick up the ball in the pockets left behind the offensive Fernandes and De Bruyne.
Defensively, the sides are fairly evenly matches, although Team North’s centre-back pairing of Van Dijk and Varane carries greater pace than their southern counterparts. Both sides have full-backs on either flank who will not need much encouragement to get up the pitch and have an influence in attack, either.
Conte does have a very strong record against Guardiola, though, winning three of their five meetings, and he is a mean tactician in his own right, so it could be a game that is won and lost in the dugout with the Spaniard’s infamous penchant for over-thinking big games.
Goalkeepers – Team North
Defenders – Team North
Midfielders – Team South
Forwards – Team North
Managers – Team North
Overall: Team North