What would soccer look like if we designed it from scratch?

Soccer seems broken. Not the sport itself, the one where the ball bounces and you can control it with only your feet -- that's as powerful and as popular as ever. People are still playing it everywhere, so long as they can find a tiny patch of space and something to kick around.

It's the architecture around it -- the institution of the sport -- that seems like it's on the verge of falling apart.

If things were healthy and stable, the Super League never would've been attempted and the world's top clubs wouldn't have tried to launch their own league. You wouldn't have players and managers telling us that they're being forced to play too many games as more competitions keep cropping up or being expanded. The major talking point coming out of the most popular league in the world every weekend wouldn't be arguments about refereeing technology protocols.

If things were healthy and stable, then the three richest leagues in the world -- the Bundesliga, Premier League and LaLiga -- would've produced more than six combined champions over the past 18 combined seasons. Then Kylian Mbappé wouldn't be making more money this year than the entire payrolls of every other team in Ligue 1. Then players from Champions League clubs wouldn't be joining middling Premier League teams. Then Newcastle's most realistic path to ever competing in the Champions League again wouldn't be "get bought by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund."

There has to be a better way, right?

While there's something truly special hidden within the bounce of that ball -- the intoxicating essence of the game itself, the thing we all love -- there's nothing inherently special about the professional structure of this sport. The fixture list and the league table were all created a long time ago, in a much different world, before airplane travel and television -- and yet the competition structure hasn't really changed. If baseball -- perhaps the only sport more wedded to tradition than soccer -- can find a way to fix itself, then why not soccer?