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Frugal La Liga breaks the mould in transfer bonanza

Madrid (AFP) – In contrast to the lavish spending of England’s Premier League clubs and French giants Paris Saint-Germain, Spain’s transfer window closed on Friday with La Liga teams posting a healthy profit.

Collectively, Spanish clubs emerged from a fervent few months in the transfer market in the black thanks to the huge sales of Neymar to PSG for a world record 222 million euros ($264 million) and Chelsea’s 80-million-euro splurge on Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata.

Sports daily Marca reported on Friday that La Liga sides posted just short of 95 million euros in profit. 

Spanish clubs have dominated European competition in recent seasons with Barca and Real Madrid winning the Champions League for the past four years.

However, tellingly Neymar is the first case of one of Spain’s big two losing one of their prized assets to a foreign league since Ronaldo joined Inter Milan in 1997.

Neymar’s departure meant Barcelona were by far the biggest spenders thanks to a haphazard search for replacements to rebuild their squad without the Brazilian.

With Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu facing calls for his resignation the Catalans splashed a total of 192.5 million euros on five players — Marlon Santos, Nelson Semedo, Gerard Deulofeu, Paulinho and Ousmane Dembele.

That total could still rise significantly with the 105-million-euro deal that brought Dembele to the Camp Nou bolstered by a further 40 million in performance-related bonuses.

But Barca, who aim to become the first club to post one billion euros in turnover in the coming seasons, were still profitable from their transfer dealings thanks to the Neymar move.

A number of different factors have contributed to a fiscally responsible window.

Spanish clubs can’t rely on booming revenues from television contracts that have backed the Premier League’s record £1.4 billion splurge on transfers.

– ‘I don’t want anyone’ –

Yet, even those with the funds like European champions Real Madrid have opted for stability after a season of huge success.

Madrid won their first La Liga and Champions League double for 59 years and president Florentino Perez was urged by coach Zinedine Zidane to retain the same squad that has served the Frenchman so well.

“With the team I have, the squad we have right now, I don’t want anyone,” said Zidane ahead of last weekend’s clash with Valencia.

Real’s recent policy of snapping up the best young talent in Spanish football continued.

Theo Hernandez became the first player to cross the Madrid divide from Atletico since 2000, whilst Real also beat Barca to the signature of Dani Ceballos, the best player at this year’s Under-21 European Championship.

Los Blancos have been quick to cash in on the desires of free-spending Premier League clubs for players that failed to even make it into their strongest starting XI last season.

As well as offloading Morata, Real recouped their outlay on Brazilian right-back Danilo despite two seasons of poor performances on the pitch as he joined Manchester City for 30 million euros.

Across the Spanish capital, Atletico were banned by FIFA from registering new players due to irregularities in the club’s signing of foreign minors.

Atletico were also hampered by the costs of moving to a new 68,000 capacity stadium this season.

They have though invested wisely in tying down a number of key players including Antoine Griezmann, Koke and Saul Niguez to long-term contracts.

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