Assessing the top 10 buys of La Liga’s summer transfer window

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After a hectic final day, the European transfer window is finally closed, and fans around the globe can stop with the incessant refreshing of Gianluca Di Marzio’s Twitter page.

Needless to say the “silly season” surely lived up to the hype this year, with ‘technology mishaps’ in particular playing a staring role. The David De Gea deal did not go through after all, but who could predict in the end that the biggest obstacle wouldn’t be the asking price or United’s refusal to sell, but instead some botched logistics from two of the biggest clubs in world soccer?

In the end, the giants of Spain were able to bolster their squads, while other contenders made the most of their restrained budgets. From the financially prudent Bosman deals, to the higher profile transfers and everything in between, La Liga’s clubs enjoyed a relatively successful transfer period.

Here are the top 10 highest impact transfers this summer in Liga BBVA:

1. Arda Turan: Atletico Madrid to FC Barcelona – €34M

Though he’ll be stuck in Catalan purgatory until the culmination of Barcelona’s transfer ban, Barcelona’s coup of the Turkish midfielder was one of the most underrated moves of the summer. Turan’s been brought in to split time with Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta; he’ll be a direct replacement for the latter, spelling Don Andres when needed, thus allowing the veteran to be fresh later in the season.

Arda is a unique talent. Naturally brilliant in attack, he’s been molded into an all-round midfielder under Diego Simeone. Equally tenacious and inventive, Turan should fit in perfectly with La Blaugrana, adding some much-needed grit to their midfield.

He famously “couldn’t sleep” after hearing about the interest from Barca, and now that he’ll be feeding the goal-hungry ‘MSN’ trio, he’ll surely be the one giving La Liga defenders nightmares in the next calendar year.

2. Aymen Abdennour: AS Monaco to Valencia – €25M

According to reports, Valencia were able thwart a last minute approach by Chelsea to sign the highly rated 26-year-old Tunisian center back, and their persistence should play immediate dividends. After an inconsistent start for Monaco last campaign, Abdennour grew by leaps and bounds over the season, eventually becoming the leader of one of the most watertight defenses in all of Europe.

Abdennour is a rock solid, no nonsense defender who should fit in perfectly next to Shkodran Mustafi as direct replacement for the recently departed Nicholas Otamendi. In his brief time at Valencia, Otamendi saw his reputation skyrocket, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Abdenndour’s follow along the same path. He could end up being one of the best value-for-money signings in all of Europe this summer.

3. Filipe Luis: Chelsea to Atletico Madrid – €16M

The Brazilian left back returns to the Spanish capital after his brief and ultimately uneventful adventure in the English Premier League. At Chelsea, Luis was unable to unseat Cesar Azpilicueta or Branislav Ivanovic from the full back positions and was eventually relegated to cup matches and lesser league fixtures. Only one year removed from being a major contributor to “Cholo” Simeone’s title-winning squad, Luis should have no problem reintegrating with Los Rojiblancos. The fans at the Calderon will be elated to see him again.

4. Fernando Llorente: Juventus to Sevilla – Free

“The Lion King” has returned to Spain after a poor second season with Juventus (9 goals in 45 appearances). Llorente joins a Sevilla side looking to replace the goals provided by the departed Carlos Bacca, and he’ll be heavily relied on to fill the void left by the Colombian.

Llorente’s strength, hold up play and aerial ability once made him a force to be reckoned with at Athletic, and he should provide Unai Emery’s Sevilla squad with an alternative to their usual fast-paced build up play. In his debut this past weekend against Atletico, Llorente was to focal point of the attack, and though he was unable to find the net, his physicality was a constant nuisance.

The reigning Europa league champions will need him at his best as they compete in the Champions League for the first time since the 2009-2010 season.

5. Jackson Martinez: FC Porto to Atletico Madrid – €35M

Usually, at this point of the summer, Atletico Madrid are attempting to replace a star forward: Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao, and Diego Costa all come to mind. But instead of scrambling to replenish their attack this year, the club was actually busy bolstering it.

Jackson Martinez comes over from Portugal where he made his name being quite prolific for FC Porto over the past three seasons (92 goals in 132 games). Usually most comfortable playing on his own, Jackson will have to adjust to his new partner, Antoine Grizemann, but however long the learning curve, goals should soon follow. Coming off the bench on this weekend, Jackson scored his first goal for Atletico with a delightful left-footed strike against Sevilla.

After an impressive transfer window, Atletico are shaping up to be a far more attacking side this season, shedding the defensive identity that has come to define them in recent years. Jackson should get all the service he needs to replicate the form of another famous Colombian striker who made his name at the Vicente Calderon: Falcao.

6. Roberto Soldado: Tottenham to Villarreal – €13.6M

Back in Spain after a truly atrocious time at Tottenham, where he managed only seven goals in 52 games (among a host of embarrassing misses), Roberto Soldado has already hit the ground for the “Yellow Submarine.” After two match days, he leads the league in both goals and assists (two a piece), and he’s beginning to look like the Soldado of old.

Villarreal went through a bit of a reshuffling this summer after losing Luciano Vietto, Denis Cheryshev (loan return to Real Madrid), the underperforming Giovani Dos Santos as well as Ikechukwu Uche. Soldado has found himself as the main goal scoring threat and he’s responded brilliantly so far.

From Getafe to Valencia, Soldado has scored goals wherever he’s been in Spain. Ultimately it appears that home is where the heart is. Villarreal should continue to reap the benefits of his returning confidence this campaign.

7. Raul Garcia: Atletico Madrid to Athletic Club Bilbao – Undisclosed (rumored €8-10M)

There’s a reason Atletico Madrid’s goalscorers all paid homage to Raul Garcia during the recent 3-0 victory over Sevilla. Their gestures alone showed just how much the 29-year-old meant to the Atletico dressing room over the past few seasons.

Garcia, a rare mix of physicality and technical ability, will add some much needed fire to a Bilbao squad that’s currently rooted to the bottom of the table after just two games. Of course of Basque heritage, Garcia will slot in right behind Artiz Aduriz and should grab quite few goals in support of the veteran striker. He can also slot further back in midfield next to Benat, Ander Iturraspe or Mikel Rico as well.

Athletic Club’s strict heritage-based transfer strategy can be restrictive at times, making the pickup of someone as talented as Garcia a major triumph.

8. Yevhen Konoplyanka: Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk to Sevilla – Free

He may have had some trouble staying on his feet at the presentation, but don’t be alarmed – the nimble footed Ukrainian attacker is far from clumsy with the ball. The subject of transfer speculation for quite a few summers now, the former FC Dnipro attacker joined Sevilla after the Andalusian side was able to fend off interest from the EPL en route to securing his signature.

Pacey, skillful and an all round nightmare for defenders, Konoplyanka also has an eye for the big moment, often chipping in with important goals in the biggest games. Surprisingly, head coach Unai Emery has been slow to involve him in the first XI, but he’s impressed during his substitute appearances. He should fine a permanent spot in the starting lineup in no time.

9. Asier Illarramendi: Real Madrid to Real Sociedad – €17M

Perhaps prematurely dubbed as the ‘new Xabi Alonso’ after his 2012-2013 campaign for La Real, Illarramendi struggled to live up to the hype in his two seasons at Madrid. The Illarramendi of Real Sociedad was an active and confident midfield general; the version at appeared in Madrid was a timid spectator, often far too afraid to take any risks on the pitch. Illarramendi never seemed to settle in at the Bernabeu and it would be the eventual signing of Mateo Kovacic that would be the death knell to Spaniard’s Madrid career.

Back now in familiar surroundings at the heart of the La Real midfield, Illarramendi will be surrounded by a few other discarded Madridistas (Esteban Granero and Sergio Canales). Not one for the high pressure of Madrid, expect Illarramendi to return to the top form that first got him noticed a few seasons ago.

10. Luciano Vietto: Villarreal to Atletico Madrid – €20M

After a fantastic debut season in La Liga in which he notched 20 goals in all competitions, the Argentine forward will be reunited with Diego Simeone, the same coach who originally gave him his debut at Racing Club back in 2011. Vietto has been dubbed the new Sergio Aguero, and with good reason. Despite his diminutive stature, he’s a feisty player with an excellent first touch, great off the ball movement and an eye for goal.

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One Response

  1. Dylan September 2, 2015

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