There are five different criteria to consider when determining which league is the biggest and the best across the footballing world.

That the Premier League far exceeds its rivals in three of the most important of these criteria means that in recent years it has established itself as a world leader in this regard, a behemoth that puts the likes of Serie A and La Liga firmly in the shade. 

Moreover, if we’re being brutally honest about it, nobody else comes close. 

The first of these considerations concerns talent, namely which league boasts pound-for-pound a higher concentration of world class players.

It is possible to compare like-for-like the superstars of Real Madrid and Barcelona with their equivalents at Manchester City and Chelsea but soon enough, when it comes to Spain – as also happens when totting up the truly elite fare in the Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 – the well runs relatively dry. 

In the Premier League however, like a proverbial Duracell bunny, the list keeps on going.

There’s Alisson, Van Dijk and Mo Salah at Liverpool. Harry Kane at Spurs. Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes at Old Trafford. You get the idea. 

It is particularly telling that at the last World Cup in Qatar, the Premier League exported 136 of their players. Next up was La Liga with 83.

The second crucial factor when pitting leagues against each other lies in their global appeal.

Via sustained and robust marketing of a brand that frankly sells itself anyway, English football is watched by 3.2 billion worldwide, a viewership that again sees La Liga take the runner-up spot, with 2.5 billion. Trailing a distant third is the Chinese Super League with a ‘mere’ 700 million.

From Mumbai to Sydney, Chicago to Lagos, the Premier League wins out in the popularity stakes and this is duly reflected in shirt sales, player recognition, and engagement. 

Which leads us neatly into the third important criteria, one that in an ideal world wouldn’t overly matter but of course absolutely does, that being the huge disparity of wealth in the Premier League compared to its peers.

According to Deloitte, in the financial year ending in 2022, the English top-flight brought in revenue exceeding a whopping £5.5 billion pounds. La Liga, by pale comparison, brought in £2.8 billion. 

Unquestionably therefore the Premier League is the financial powerhouse of world football which inevitably – for a hundred different reasons, not least affording English clubs the ability to outspend their foreign counterparts – results in it being the biggest. 

This is as true today as it’s been across the modern era. Is it though the best? 

Here we reach the final two considerations, both of which are far more subjective, even if the first doesn’t appear so at first glance. Here too, we discover that the gap between the Premier League and the other big European leagues may finally be narrowing.

It is often held up as definitive proof of a league’s health and standing how its teams fare in continental competitions.

Taking this as a useful barometer of the Premier League’s supremacy therefore it surprises to learn that Spanish sides have reached a Champions League semi-final on 14 occasions this past decade, compared to ten teams from England. 

Does this suggest that La Liga has better teams producing better football? 

Maybe, but here’s the subjective part, because when these numbers are broken down we find that eight of Spain’s 14 are attributed to Real Madrid, whereas England’s high achievers are more evenly spread out. 

Does this really matter? Does it downgrade Spain’s excellence at club level to be so reliant on a single side? As stated, this is purely down to opinion.

Then we come to the most abstract factor of them all, the determination of which league conjures up the most entertainment and drama. Which is the most box-office?

Before we proceed, a key point regarding this is how fluid this judgement is. How quickly things can change year on year. 

Because it’s all well and good for the patriotic among us to name-check Sergio Aguero’s sensational 93rd minute, title-deciding winner but that was 11 years ago now. Leicester City’s remarkable subverting of the Premier League betting and pulling off their fairy tale meanwhile was seven years ago.

In more recent times, Manchester City have undergone a dominance of the top-flight, winning five of the last six campaigns and routinely being priced up as super-short favourites in the football betting.  

There is very little jeopardy in that while for fair-weather fans across the globe, who don’t hold an allegiance to any particular club, it’s hardly box-office. 

By sharp comparison, in Italy last season, Napoli’s first Scudetto for 33 years made headlines far and wide while even in Germany, a country that has long been strangle-held by Bayern Munich, their title race went right to the wire. Right to the final minute in fact.

To what extent the current predictability of the Premier League impacts on it’s popularity and worldwide stature will be fascinating to note. 

For now though, we can state with utter certainly that it remains the biggest. As for the best, it’s up there, largely by boasting the biggest number of marquee talents, with teams that are universally known.

Presently, that seems to be sufficing.

By Ste Tudor

Ste is a sports expert, writing for a range of national and international media publications.

In addition, Ste produces content for 888sport and has interviewed some leading figures in the world of football, including Ian Rush, Jaap Stam and Teddy Sheringham.