Spain’s top-flight clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Atletico Madrid have spent more money on transfers in the summer of 2018 than ever before.
From the title contenders to the teams battling to avoid relegation, each of La Liga Santander’s 20 clubs made some intriguing signings this summer. The four clubs which made up last season’s top four spent the most money over the past few months, with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Atletico Madrid each breaking the €100-million barrier.
Having won the past three Champions Leagues, Real Madrid clearly possessed one of the most talented squads in the world already. Yet they have worked to improve their strength in depth by hiring the likes of goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, right back Alvaro Odriozola and striker Mariano Diaz, who returns to the club after a fabulous 21-goal season in Lyon. Another fascinating development saw Vinicius Junior join from Flamengo, with the teenager able to complete his pre-arranged move to Real Madrid now that he has turned 18. The highly-rated young wing will slowly be integrated into Los Blancos’ first team, which should be interesting to see.
Current La Liga champions Barcelona adopted a similar approach to their great rivals. Their bench will look completely different in 2018-19, having brought in centre back Clement Lenglet, central midfielders Arthur Melo, Arturo Vidal and wing Malcom to support the championship-winning starting XI and to provide options for the future.
Atletico Madrid signed a number of players who also have bright futures, as well as exciting presents. Rodri, Gelson Martins and Thomas Lemar are all 23 or younger, but can all bring something to the table right here and right now. In the case of Lemar, the most expensive signing made by any La Liga club this summer, the former Monaco wing has already won the World Cup and should bring a winning mentality to the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano. In fact, he even won the Uefa Super Cup on his Atleti debut, playing a vital role in the victory over Real Madrid.
Valencia have had an interesting summer too, as they look to push on from last season’s fourth-place finish and return to Champions League football. Goncalo Guedes, who scored five La Liga goals and set up 11 more last season during his loan spell with the east coast club, has joined on a permanent transfer from Paris Saint-Germain. For obvious reasons, it’s a deal they’re very excited about at Valencia, while they’re also glad to have pinned Geoffrey Kondogbia down to a permanent deal and to have boosted their strike force with the arrivals of Michy Batshuayi and Kevin Gameiro. Daniel Wass’ arrival from Celta Vigo may have been a bit more lowkey, but the versatile Dane is one to watch as well.
There have also been some eye-catching transfers made by the chasing pack of clubs keen to break into the top four this season. Villarreal have focused on improving their strike options by signing Gerard Moreno, Karl Toko Ekambi and Carlos Bacca. Athletic Club have gotten stronger at the fullback positions with the acquisitions of Yuri Berchiche, Ander Capa and Cristian Ganea, while they’re also thrilled to have captured Eibar captain Dani Garcia for their midfield. Real Sociedad also added a talented midfielder in the form of Mikel Merino, who joins from Newcastle United, while the acquisitions of Real Madrid left back Theo Hernandez and Everton striker Sandro Ramirez on loan are ones which they’re excited about in San Sebastian too.
The league’s two Andalusian clubs have strengthened in all areas. They both have new goalkeepers, with Pau Lopez coming in to start for Real Betis and with Tomas Vaclik doing likewise for Sevilla. They’ve both signed highly-rated centre backs (Sidnei for Betis and Joris Gnagnon for Sevilla) and impressive defensive midfielders (William Carvalho and Giovani Lo Celso for Betis and Ibrahim Amadou and Maxime Gonalons for Sevilla). On top of that, both Seville clubs have added players with an eye for goal, with Betis hiring exciting Japanese wing Takashi Inui and Sevilla adding Quincy Promes and Andre Silva.
Some of the league’s more modest clubs have made nifty signings too. Leganes can be excited about bringing in Oscar Rodriguez from Real Madrid’s B team, Jose Arnaiz from Barcelona B and Guido Carrillo from Southampton. Girona are set to benefit once again from some Manchester City loanees, having this summer signed Patrick Roberts and Douglas Luiz on temporary deals. Rayo Vallecano won the fight to sign hot prospect Alvaro Garcia from Cadiz, as well as bringing back Raul de Tomas on loan from Real Madrid after he netted 24 goals during their Segunda-winning campaign last year. Then there’s Real Valladolid, who have signed striker Enes Unal, a player so promising he debuted with Turkey at 17, on loan from Villarreal.
From top to bottom, it seems that good business has been done everywhere and it promises to make the 2018-19 La Liga season one of the most competitive in years.
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