Selasa, 12 Julai 2011

Spain's Best Summer Transfer So Far

Joaquín (Málaga, €4.2m)
It's hard not to love Joaquín as a person and a footballer. With his cheery grin and his straw-chewing bumpkin vibe, the right winger is a genuine asset to any side simply because of his permanently positive attitude to the game. The Andalusian midfielder may be turning 30 later this month, but Joaquín enjoyed one of his best seasons in years in his final campaign with Valencia, a club that have had to cash in on an asset whose contract ran out in 2012. Málaga have bought a few golden oldies in what has been a summer of huge investment but this particular purchase is one that is far from over the hill and will contribute hugely to a possible top-four charge.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Málaga, free)
The Dutch forward is another player recruited to the new Málaga project and with Julio Baptista in the squad too, the southern side will have the air of a 2007-era Real Madrid. The former Manchester United man is past his poaching peak but perfectly fits the profile of a footballer who will not sulk if he doesn't start every game but will surely contribute when out on the pitch. Van Nistelrooy's experience of winning trophies paired with a Champions League-challenging club starting from scratch, more than justifies his place with Málaga, especially as the Dutchman is joining for free.

Felipe Caicedo (Levante, €1m)
One million euro is a lot of a money for a skint club that has not spent money on a footballer for the three previous seasons, but this investment is set to see a substantial instant profit with Caicedo's re-sale value expected to reach €8m with Getafe and Atlético Madrid both interested in the forward. The former Manchester City striker was with Levante on loan last season, and his 13 goals helped keep the Valencia club in La Liga. It looks like Caicedo could be a huge plus point for Levante once again.

Juan Rodríguez (Getafe, free)
The free signing of a midfielder from Deportivo - a club relegated last year - does not seem like the sexiest of recruitments, but the new boy at the Coliseum is set to be a perfect fit for the Madrid club. Last season, Getafe's midfield lacked composure and consistency but these are the two attributes that best describes an experienced, versatile if not heart-racing footballer.

Nuri Sahin (Real Madrid, €10m)
Considering that Madrid have just forked out €30m for Fabio Coentrao, a left-back who may not even be a starter, the €10m paid for the former Borussia Dortmund player may turn out to be deal to equal the success of Mesut Özil's recruitment last summer. The Turkish international is just 22 but has already clocked up 135 games in the Bundesliga and was voted the league's best footballer last season. Sahin may possibly be an understudy for Xabi Alonso as the creative hub of the side, but this is a position that has been lacking for Madrid, who suffer when the former Liverpool man is not out on the pitch to run the show.

Diego Alves (Valencia, €3m)
The former Almería goalkeeper has been a bit of a favourite for this column for some time, having single-handedly kept one of the smallest sides in la Primera for the past few seasons. Unfortunately, even the Brazilian keeper couldn't save Almería's skins last year so Alves looks set to be Valencia's number one - and penalty saver extraordinaire - for an absolute bargain price due to the goalie being out of contract next summer.

Gabi (Atlético Madrid, €3m)
There a joke to be made about a lack of brains at Atlético Madrid, but that's more to do with those running the club. What the team do have now - which has been missing for a while - is a brain for the midfield. Gabi is an Atlético youth product and is joining the Vicente Calderón club for his third spell after a move from Zaragoza. If Gabi reproduces his central midfield form where his leadership, drive and creativity kept Zaragoza up last season, then Atlético will have some much-needed stability in what has been a problem area for the club for some time.

Pablo Piatti (Valencia, €8m)
Small, fast, young and Argentinean sees the striker being compared to contemporaries in la Liga such as Kun Agüero and Leo Messi, but Valencia's latest purchase is a different type a player who used incredible speed and a more-than-decent finish to score eight goals for a bottom-of-the-table team last year. Although the 22-year-old's development has halted of late, stuck at a permanently struggling side, a spell at a top-notch club like Valencia should see the forward playing more to his potential.

Ander Herrera (Athletic Bilbao, €7.5m)
The price tag for this Spain U-21 international midfielder is a little misleading, as there is an unofficial €2m 'Basque fee' added to any player being sold to Athletic Bilbao due to the difficulties of finding alternatives. The feisty Herrera had a stand-out summer for his country in Spain's Under-21 European Championship victory and his creativity and drive is set to be a huge asset to a team that is more than capable in the physicality department but sometimes lacks that little bit of guile that Herrera will be able to offer.


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