Permanently rising into Europe's elites still seems an impossible task

For those clubs below the top tier, shocks can be achieved short-term

Leicester, Chelsea, Riyad Mahrez, N'Golo Kante

Leicester City's N'Golo Kante (centre) and Chelsea's Francesc Fabregas (right) battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. Picture by: Nick Potts / PA Wire/Press Association Images

If last season is anything to go by, it is possible to shake up the pecking order and shock the established powers.

Leicester City's Premier League triumph, Atletico Madrid's second Champions League final appearance in three years and to a lesser extent, Portugal's Euro 2016 triumph, point to that.

But they could be flashes in the pan for all we know.

When it comes to club football, there are a small core of established powers. In Spain, it's Barcelona and Real Madrid that can be regarded as the established elite, Bayern Munich fulfil that role in Germany, Juventus' recent Serie A dominance, successful new stadium and the 2015 Champions League final appearance puts them in that bracket, and in terms of marketing power and history the Premier League houses Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.  

That trio's fortunes can fluctuate but when it comes to the Deloitte Money League rankings, all three are usually in the Top 10 in Europe.

 Diego Simeone (Picture by PA)

You must also throw Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain into the conversation by dint of the fact that their owner-funded success puts them in the elite bracket.

But for clubs that don't or cannot go down the major investor route, that road to perennial elite status appears filled with major obstacles.

But as Leicester, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund have shown, it is possible to mix it with those aforementioned clubs.

But while Atletico's current status puts them right into the elite category, one has to wonder if that is due to the fact of having an outstanding manager like Diego Simeone and an excellent transfer policy. Would they be able to sustain that success if he were to leave?

It's a question The Guardian's Spanish football expert Sid Lowe considered when he spoke to Newstalk's Team 33 in March.

"That's one of the big doubts, whether anyone can follow Simeone," he began.

"That said, I think they have created a structural stability through the force of his personality that I think can be sustained, even in his absence."

Lowe also cited the new stadium that Atletico are due to move into as well as investment from China to give them more of a financial boost. 

The most recent Deloitte Money League has Atletico in 15th which is the same spot they were in the previous year. 



It's an improvement of course, given that they hovered in the higher reaches of the Top 20 and were outside that in the not so distant past.

They have managed to retain the bulk of their key players in recent seasons, including Euro 2016's Player of the Tournament Antoine Griezmann who signed a new deal.

However, unlike their two biggest Spanish rivals, they do not have a European Cup or Champions League trophy to their name which would give them a huge marketing and symbolic boost which could drive momentum.

Leicester, on the other hand, upset the applecart but have already lost N'Golo Kante to an elite club in Chelsea, while Arsenal are reportedly hovering around reigning PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez.

Given that Leicester reside in the Premier League, they do feature in the Top 25 of the Deloitte Money League. But that is far from the revenue figures generated by the Premier League and European establishment - more than €400 million below top club Real Madrid.

Of course, as they showed, a short-term shock is possible but long-term self-establishment nearer the top of European football's food chain looks impossible for those clubs that aren't truly global star names.

Mario Gotze in his first Dortmund spell (Picture by PA)

Take Borussia Dortmund who return to the Champions League this season but have continuously seen rival clubs - often Bayern Munich - take their best players.

Since reaching the Champions League final in 2013, they have lost Mario Gotze (he has since returned this summer), Ilkay Gundogan, Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels among others.

They remain a top tier club in the German sphere, overshadowed only by Bayern, but on the European scene they would be regarded as second tier, although they are just outside the Top 10 in terms of revenue according to Deloitte.

But their income in the 2015 Deloitte Money League still leaves them over €100 million behind Liverpool who have barely been in the Champions League in recent years.

Along with Atletico, they are the clubs that have come closest to really establishing themselves among Europe's elite sides without the aid of a sugar daddy owner.

Because, let's face it, since when has a club really sustained its rise beyond a five-year span and remained wedged among the world's most famous clubs?

Thus it still seems clear that obstacles remain when it comes to truly putting themselves in the mix on a perennial basis.