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Thomas Hitzlsperger: Standards have dropped in the Premier League

Former Aston Villa, West Ham United and Everton midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger says the standard of football in the Premier League is dropping, despite a lucrative new television deal which is set to make English clubs the richest on the continent.

The Premier League risks losing a starting berth in the Champions League from the 2017-18 season if it suffers a repeat of last season, when no side made it to the quarter-final stages in either the Champions League or the Europa League.

That poor form in Europe reflects a worrying trend, according to Hitzlsperger, who thinks the extra income clubs are receiving is not being put to the best possible use.

"The level of the league has dropped in recent years," he told Germany's Kicker magazine. "Their lack of success in Europe shows it.

"Many people are talking about all the money they Premier League clubs have at their disposal, but you are seeing what happens when they don't use it properly."

Bundesliga clubs have benefited in part from the Premier League's new spending power, with players such as Shinji Okazaki and Heung-Min Son moving to England for fees many other clubs would not even have considered paying.

Hitzlsperger concedes that the overall drop in standards has at least made the league more exciting and admits he has been impressed by Leicester's surge this season.

"The positive thing is it is making the league more exciting," Hitzlsperger said.

"(Leicester) have been sensational and they could possibly create a bit of an upset. I reckon they could finish sixth."

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