EPL: English 'Not-so Premier' League?

Radamel Falcao completed a £53 million ($101m) move to Monaco in May, despite strong interest from Manchester United and Chelsea. The Colombian hitman scored 52 league goals over the last two seasons with Atletico Madrid.

After nearly a decade of dominance, is the appeal of the Premier League on the wane?

This summer, the best available footballers in the world have turned their noses up at England and moved instead to France, Germany and Spain.

Radamel Falcao (Monaco), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Borussia Dortmund), Isco (Real Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), David Villa (Atletico Madrid) and Edinson Cavani (Paris St Germain) have all snubbed the Premier League.

So what's happening?

All leagues suffer peaks and troughs of popularity.

In the 1990s, Italy was the place to play.

Then it was the turn of Spain to suck up the world's best footballers.

The Premier League's dominance began with Liverpool's 2005 Champions League win, but arguably ended last season with the early elimination of all the English teams in Europe's top competition.

With the two best players on earth, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, still in La Liga and with so many other talent opting to stay away, the Premier League's light has dimmed.

Sadly, for the purist at least, this trend has less to do with football and more to do with money, specifically, income tax.

In England, the top tax rate is 45 per cent and it's enforced by the formidable men and women of Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs, who have the complicated tax-avoidance schemes of the rich and famous firmly in their sights.

While the upper rate of tax in Spain is an eye-watering 56 per cent, there are countless loopholes and clauses that are easily navigated.

According to The Guardian, no other nation in Europe spends as little on the business of tax collection.

The prevailing view has always been that even if your books aren't quite cooked to perfection, you'd have to be extremely unlucky for the underfunded state to catch up with you.

The recent controversy over Messi's affairs may have changed that for now, but Spanish governments have a habit of choosing convenience over consistency.

Last year, the Conservative government announced a scheme allowing evasive types to clear their books with a 10 per cent payment in exchange for total amnesty.

Their Socialist predecessors tried the same. The storm will pass.

In Monaco, of course, there is no tax at all for foreigners.

To break it into simple terms, they could pay Falcao £100,000 ($190,000) a week and an English club would have to give him £190,000 a week just to match what he'd take home.

Astonishing advantage

It's an astonishing advantage for one club and the French Football Federation is fighting hard to change it, but with no guarantee of success.

Funded by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, Monaco play to average crowds of just over 5,000, so you can bet that he'll fight all efforts to level the playing field and he'll do it with an army of lawyers.

Meanwhile, in Paris, the Qatari owners of PSG continue to throw money around like lottery winners.

But the situation isn't as bleak as it seems.

Not all the transfers are motivated by money.

Germany, for example, has a similar tax set-up to England and it doesn't seem to have slowed Bayern Munich down.

Alcantara joined the Bavarian giants because of Pep Guardiola, and the not insignificant fact that his agent is Per Guardiola, Pep's brother.

The fact that they are European champions may also have helped.

Mkhitaryan chose Dortmund above Liverpool because the German side are in the Champions League and Brendan Rodgers' side aren't even in the Europa League.

Neymar chose Spain because of the ease of transition from Brazil and Villa turned down Tottenham to stay in La Liga for similar reasons.

In the last 12 months, the Premier League has proved illustrious enough to attract the likes of Shinji Kagawa, Eden Hazard, Oscar, Lewis Holtby, Paulinho, Andre Schuerrle, Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, all superb footballers.

The new TV deal proves the attractiveness of the league around the world and the unprecedented upheaval in the dugouts of the top clubs this summer means that the coming season will be the most fascinating for years.

There's no doubt that shifting economic plates have ended English dominance, but they haven't slipped too far down the pecking order.

If they use this period to streamline their practices and to seek out value in less-used markets, they'll be back before too long.