The international break is nearly over and we can almost see the return of domestic football on the horizon.
Before that, all of the attention was on the transfer market and the crazy money deals which did and didn’t happen.
Here’s who I see came out of the transfer window on top and those who should’ve done better.
There seems to be a constant stream of instability at Real Betis in recent years. The club is desperate to not only remain in LaLiga but push towards that group of teams vying for the European spots.
Either through a poor coach or disappointing recruitment – or both – it hasn’t quite clicked for Betis yet. However this summer they’ve strengthened key areas and look to have a squad which shouldn’t even think about a relegation scrap.
Arguably the most important addition is the man now in the dugout: Quique Setien. After transforming Las Palmas, Betis hope he can have a similar impact down in Sevilla.
They’ve renovated their stadium too so expect a loud and raucous reception whenever you sit in the away end at the Benito Villamarin.
Victor Camarasa, Javi Garcia and Andres Guardado add muscle and intelligence to their midfield, something which is necessary following the departure of Dani Ceballos to Real Madrid. It’ll also be interesting to see how Ryad Boudebouz adapts to the league.
They also stole a march on all their rivals by snapping up Sergio Leon to replace club talisman Ruben Castro. Surely this year sparks the true arrival of Betis in LaLiga?
Speaking of instability, Valencia wrote the book on it. Everything Betis have gone through pales in comparison to what Los Che fans have witnessed in recent years. From Champions League regulars to relegation battlers, the decline was alarming quick. Jumping from one disaster to another, it didn’t look good. That was until they appointed a real coach at last.
Marcelino, like Setien, knows he at a sleeping giant. There’s huge room for improvement and if they get it right then the sky’s the limit. The former Villarreal man demands a lot of his players and rewards hard workers. This meant more fat was trimmed at Valencia than in the month of September when we all come back off our holidays. And, equally as important, the wage bill is now under control.
The defence needed overhauling and Marcelino duly obliged. Neto, Gabriel Paulista and Jeison Murillo all came in. Geoffrey Kondogbia replaces the void left by Javi Fuego in the centre of the park to further improve the side’s rear guard. Loanees Andreas Pereira and Goncalo Guedes add more creativity to the attack behind Simone Zaza. Top four doesn’t seem like a distant dream anymore.
Deportivo de La Coruña
There are a few teams who could have occupied this last spot. Celta Vigo added Emre Mor and Maxi Gomez to their attack. New boys Girona have signed almost an entire squad for their first assault on LaLiga. Even Las Palmas, in life after Setien, have bought well with Loic Remy joining Jonathan Calleri and Vitolo as new additions.
However I think Deportivo have done some cracking business this summer. Financial restrictions mean it isn’t easy for them to move in the market but they’ve picked up some impressive names Zakaria Bakkali joins Carles Gil and Fede Cartabia to offer pace, directness and drive to a laboured attack. Florin Andone wasn’t sold and just before the window closed Lucas Perez rejoined on loan. Genuine, viable options in the final third will always keep you away from the bottom of the table.
Guilherme adds quality to the midfield and promising Real Madrid youngster Fede Valverde will look to continue his progression with game time at Riazor. Elsewhere, in defence, they signed Fabian Schar on a free transfer. It wasn’t that long ago he was being chased by some of the biggest teams in Europe. If he finds his feet quickly in LaLiga I sense he won’t be short of admirers again.
Oh, Barcelona. So often the ones who take other teams’ star players, this summer they found out what it’s like to be on the receiving end. A mixture of arrogance and ignorance meant they refused to consider the possibility of Neymar leaving. That was until he sat down in their office and said ‘adios’. In the aftermath it was like they were more interested in taking legal action against Neymar than adequately replacing him.
Gerard Deulofeu and Ousmane Dembele are fine additions, particularly the latter, but it would be unreasonable to expect either to replace Neymar’s influence in the team. Further back, Paulinho has arrived to improve the midfield despite most fans – and a certain former player – wishing it was someone else. This isn’t Paulinho’s fault of course but he would never have been signed if Barcelona were being run correctly.
Nelson Semedo looks a promising buy and should slot in fine at right back. However the squad appears weaker in terms of depth. They’re also relying on Thomas Vermaelen to stay fit after loaning Marlon out due to their limited non-EU spots. With question marks hanging over the futures of Lionel Messi and Andreas Iniesta, this has been a summer to forget for Los Cules.
It’s hard to see what Malaga’s objectives are. The club, in the hands of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani, seem to air every grievance in public. For fans who wish their owner, president or chairman were more active on social media this is an example of why you should be careful what you wish for.
Al-Thani clearly means well but sometimes needs to learn less is more. The public war of words with his coach over transfer targets was incredible. Pick up the phone, have a conversation, but don’t broadcast it to thousands of people. It makes the club look weak, small time and it only causes to embarrass genuine fans.
Malaga sold Ignacio Camacho, Pablo Fornals and Sandro Ramirez this summer. The club simply doesn’t have the pulling power to adequately replace them. Borja Baston could prove to be a smart signing, he scored 18 in LaLiga before his move to Swansea. However it’s in midfield where you worry about Malaga. You sense it might be a long, long season for those fans in the Costa del Sol.
No one gave Getafe much hope of returning to LaLiga, let alone at the first time of asking. A team without a big fan base or great resources, they rely on proving their doubters wrong. It was imperative they made a big splash in the transfer market and bulked their squad out ahead of the new season.
Despite a lot of movement the squad still has a very ‘second division’ feel about it. Jorge Molina, at 35, needs to transfer his goalscoring form to LaLiga but it’s going to be tough. Faycal Fajr is a threat from set pieces but you worry where their goals will come from. Two games in and they’re yet to get off the mark.
Dani Pacheco, the hero of Getafe’s promotion campaign, won’t be fit until the middle of October after shoulder surgery. Either way it doesn’t look like Getafe will be strong enough this season and will be scrapping at the bottom of the table again.