Having arrived on British shores unknown in the summer, Swansea striker Michu has exploded onto the scene, briefly topping the Premier League scoring charts with 13 goals to his name. Priced at roughly £2m, he is proving to be the bargain of the season and other clubs have begun to focus on what gems could be unearthed beneath the Barca-Real dominance. We detail 5 potential exports who could make a similar impact in foreign leagues from some of the unheralded La Liga teams.
Celta Vigo have struggled since their arrival from the Segunda Division but their main front man Aspas has taken to the league like a duck to water. He’s Celta’s top scorer this season with 6 goals, which is impressive considering the lack of goals the squad manage – just 16 in total. At just 25 Aspas has the hopes of half a region on his shoulders and is showing impressive maturity in the lone attacking role as Celta straddle marginally above the relegation zone.
Whilst his goalscoring has gained him credit, Aspas is equally as potent in providing his team mates with opportunities. His three assists are injustice for his endeavour however as Aspas has played the third highest amount of through balls and killer passes in the league this season. Probably the most likely candidate to emulate Michu in terms of an unknown quantity, Aspas would be a neat January addition to many teams throughout Europe.
Arsenal are rumoured to have had a €10m bid turned down from Atletico Madrid for Adrian, who has been used sparingly this season amidst the explosive partnership between Arda Turan and Falcao. A call up to the Spanish national squad for friendlies prior to the European Championships capped off a wonderful season for Adrian last year in which he bagged 19 goals in the league and in Europe. Since then things have gone sour for Adrian; he’s started just 6 games this season and scored only three goals, making him a prime target for Arsene Wenger who is renowned for coaxing the best from youngsters.
Yet to establish his favoured position, Wenger can surely liken him to want-away England striker Theo Walcott and, not to put too much pressure on the lad, Thierry Henry. With regular game time, Adrian could be moulded into the predator he’s seeking to rediscover this season and become an impact substitute similar to Javier Hernandez at Manchester United.
Real Betis have floated in and around the top four since the beginnning of the season but many people have been distracted by Atletico Madrid’s superb form to realise how impressive Pepe Mel’s team are. Co-ordinated by midfielder Benat, Betis have thrived from his assistance and in the process Benat has squeezed himself into the abominably talented Spanish national squad. His form this season has been most impressive delivering 5 assists for team mates whilst chipping in with 4 goals – one of which proved to be the winner at home to Real Madrid in November.
Tottenham are said to have been tracking Benat, who is often likened to Luka Modric in both physique and due to their excellent array of passing. Competent at set pieces too, Benat would be the perfect midfield provider for someone like Emmanuel Adebayor and could mirror the impact Santi Cazorla has made at rivals Arsenal.
One of the hottest properties in Europe. Germany has Mario Gotze, England have Jack Wilshere, France have Yann M’vila and Spain have 20 year old starlet Isco. Malaga’s financial worries in the summer jeopardised his progress at the Andalucian club but as Santi Cazorla stepped aside, Isco proved himself to be the exciting talent we all hoped he’d one day become. He’s the archetypal Spanish play maker, in the mould of Xavi or Iniesta – minute frame and rarely concedes possession – and should be one of the above’s successors to the Spanish midfield. Malaga have been steady this season, enjoying their Champions League odyssey, in which Isco has notched twice and claimed two assists, but Isco has truly become the name on everybody’s lips since the summer.
Manchester City have been interested if you believe the speculation, but it is easy to understand why. Isco could add quality to any team in Europe and at just 20 years old he’s at his cheapest asking price right now. Expect him to progress to one of Europe’s elite clubs in the next few years should Malaga not throw their money around like City have done.
Since the two failed cup finals for Bilbao last season, things have turned sour. Dumped out of both the Europa League and the Copa del Rey, languishing in mid table, Marcelo Bielsa has also had to contend with star striker Fernando Llorente demanding out. Llorente refused a new contract in August and has been excluded from the team since as punishment from Bielsa and his departure is one of the most likely transfers of the year.
Talks are ongoing with Juventus over a €10m transfer which is sad for both parties. Llorente lit up a Bilbao team who shocked Europe with stellar performances based on the principles football had forgotten. Nothing has been the same since and Llorente must look back on the last 12 months with mixed feelings. Despite this, he remains a talented player and a difficult one to play against, similar to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He should thrive with playing time coming regularly and consequently should find his best form soon.
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