When your Sporting Director hints at an added reliance on the youth system within the club you automatically begin to think the worst, especially if you play second fiddle to a team like Barcelona. That’s the complex situation currently unfolding at Espanyol however as worrying financial details have become visible over the past year.
Espanyol had no option but to watch star players leave the club last summer and have already witnessed Javi Marquez exit for Mallorca and Kalu Uche for Turkey this year as another exodus beckons.
An influx of handy loan signings can’t hide the fact that Espanyol are struggling as the remnants of their squad once those players departed for their respected clubs showed. Another season dominated by short term transfers will only cover the cracks for so long.
Despite these worries, Espanyol have strengthened the defense and midfield areas with some permanent deals, especially Diego Colotto from Deportivo La Coruna. The Argentinian centre-back dominated the Deportivo defence last year and was integral to their promotion back to La Liga.
Along with Colotto, Sergio Tejera from Mallorca and Wasako Mubarak from Villarreal add to the depleted ranks at Espanyol. Importantly, two of these players are under 22 and can be part of the future for Espanyol, likely to be sold on for greater transfer fees.
After all Espanyol have always been a selling club, forever in the shadow of their giant rivals, Barcelona.
Selling Osvaldo to Roma last year proved that. Having scored 13 leage goals the season before, Espanyol cashed in on the striker last August but never found a suitable replacement. Mounir El Hamdaoui almost signed in the aftermath of selling Osvaldo but Espanyol couldn’t meet the asking price for the striker.
Instead the club’s season petered out, almost threatening to compete for a European place. The obvious lack of a frequent goalscorer resulted in a slump backwards, finally finishing in a disappointing 14th position as no one managed to reach double figures for the club.
Unable to bring in the calibre of player required, Espanyol appear to be resigned to shifting their focus to their defence and making sure they’re tough to beat. Their summer signings to date certainly suggest that at least.
Many more players are sure to come in however and a decent loan signing can propel a club up a few places in the table; just look at Arouna Kone’s impact at Levante last season. Continuing the search for a talisman up front is the key to avoiding relegation, which is a real threat to Espanyol this year especially if the financial problems grow! The January transfer window could be the most crucial point in the season if Espanyol are struggling at that point.
La Liga: 14th
Copa del Rey: Quarter-finals (lost to Mirandes 4-4 on away goals)
Diego Colotto free from Deportivo La Coruna
Sergio Tejera free from Mallorca
Joan Capdevilla free from Benfica
Wakaso Mubarak €300,000 from Villarreal
Jordi Amat loan to Rayo Vallecano
Kalu Uche €1.5m to Kasimpasa
Javi Marquez €1.2m to Mallorca
Ben Sahar free to Hertha Berlin
One to Watch: Hector Moreno