The formidable XI that Basel let go
If you stop and ask yourself where the big European teams' non-homegrown players come from, the answer is most often the smaller leagues. Both in Europe and South America, the chances of becoming a star are slimmer in the less prestigious leagues. The Swiss league is an obvious example of this and, within the Swiss league, FC Basel is arguably the biggest victim of big teams' plundering. If they had been able to hold onto their players, the Swiss side would have been able to field this powerful first XI.
In net would be Yann Sommer. The Borussia Mönchengladbach and Swiss national keeper spent five and a half seasons in net at the Sankt Jakob Park. He came from FC Vaduz, spending one season on loan at Grasshopper Club Zürich. He has now been at 'Gladbach' for three and a half years.
This imaginary Basel side would play with a back three. It would be the least star-studded part of the team, but that doesn't mean it would be lacking in quality. The leader would be 22-year-old centre-back Manuel Akanji. Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund battled for his signature in January, with the Germans emerging victorious.
He would be accompanied on one side by Fabian Schär. Some bright performances at Basel got him a move to the Bundesliga, in the form of Hoffenheim, who then sold him to Deportivo last summer. On the other side would be Aleksandar Dragović, Leicester's centre-back, who spent two years at Basel after arriving from Austria Viena. He plays for the 'Foxes' on loan from Bayer Leverkusen.
Further up the field would be two central midfielders who never played in the same Basel side, but who now both wear an Arsenal shirt. The first is Granit Xhaka, who left the Swiss side in favour of 'Gladbach', and whose brother still plays for Basel. The second is Mohamed Elneny, who came from Egyptian side Al-Mokawloon, signing for the 'Gunners' in January 2016.
The flanks would be in good hands, with two of the most in-form midfielders in Europe. Xherdan Shaqiri would play down the right; the Stoke man was at Basel for three years before moving to Bayern Munich, from there he went to Inter Milan before travelling to the English side. On the left we would have Ivan Rakitic, who spent a year at Basel before signing for Schalke. Now, the Croatian international is one of Barcelona's best players.
The attacking three would be headlined by one of the hottest players in Europe, Mohammed Salah. Not everybody knows that the super-fast winger played at Basel for a season and a half before arriving at Chelsea, then moving to Roma. Last summer Salah travelled to Liverpool for 42 million euros, a fee which now seems like a bargain. He would be the biggest star of the team...no offence Rakitic.
Spearheading the attack would be Felipe Caicedo. He spent a season and a half in Switzerland before switching to Manchester City. After a long journey via La Liga, Lokomotiv Moscow and Al-Jazira, he has ended up at Lazio. He would be accompanied on the left by Breel Embolo, one of the most promising young talents in the Bundesliga, who plays for Schalke 04.
The manager would be Paulo Sousa, who coached the Swiss side during the 14/15 season. Soon after, he left for Fiorentina, where he became one of the best managers in the Italian league, and he is now on the touchline at Tianjin Quanjian, managing Pato, Witsel and Modeste.
Sommer, Akanji, Schär, Dragovic, Xhaka, Elneny, Shaqiri, Rakitic, Salah, Caicedo and Embolo. A truly frightening side that would have the talent to be one of Europe's best sides, and a true challenger in the Champions League. Unfortunately for Basel, this is all fantasy, and the harsh reality is that their team is unlikely to make it past this round of the CL, after Manchester City put four past them at home.