5 Smartest La Liga Transfers €5 Million or Under
Here are La Liga’s five smartest summer transfer moves for €5 million or under.
With 14 of the 20 Spanish Primera División clubs in debt, it's vital that clubs not only adhere to fiscally responsible transfer policies, but also find ways of making profits from their transfer deals.
5. Youssef El-Arabi, Deep-Lying Forward, Age: 25
From Al-Hilal to Granada for €4.5 million
Youssef El-Arabi is back in Europe after a prosperous detour with Al-Hilal under the watchful eye of Prince Abdulrahman bin Musa'ad.
El-Arabi was able to cash in because of his meteoric rise at Caen, which included 10 goals in a 15-game stretch during the 2010-11 season.
He memorably scored a late winner against Didier Deschamps' Marseille side that consisted of Steve Mandanda, César Azpilicueta, Lucho González, André Ayew, Mathieu Valbuena, Hatem Ben Arfa and Mamadou Niang.
El-Arabi set Ligue 1 alight that season, and he's made the right decision to abandon his Saudi Arabian adventure.
If you haven't watched him before, think Luis Suárez.
4. Chori Castro, Left Winger, Age: 27
From Mallorca to Real Sociedad on a free transfer
Chori Castro never receives the recognition he deserves, and he only made headlines last season because his club accidentally inserted a €18,000 release clause in his contract.
He was one of the most productive midfielders last season, and he played really well in two games against Real Madrid.
Was it a surprise that he started this season with a goal against Barcelona? Nope.
It seems that he'll be a nearly great player like Raffael and Juan Arango.
3. Andrés Guardado, Left Attacking Midfielder, Age: 25
From Deportivo La Coruña to Valencia on a free transfer
Brutal scheduling is the reason why Andrés Guardado hasn't hit the ground running.
He had to graft against Real Madrid and Barcelona, plus there was an emotional return to Depor.
Don't give up on Guardado, because he's a dangerous player who can perform like a world-class midfielder, as evident during the 2011 Gold Cup.
2. Cicinho, Right-Back, Age: 26
From Palmeiras to Sevilla for €2 million
When Sevilla announced that they had signed right-back Cicinho, the Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) incorrectly reported that the Spanish club had signed former Real Madrid and Roma full-back Cicinho.
At the time, I had marked the signing as the worst transfer of the summer because Cicinho was infamous for his unprofessional behaviour, he was in steep decline and his defending in recent memory was calamitous.
It was a very un-Sevilla-like signing because they generally always make pragmatic transfer decisions.
But it became clear that Sevilla didn't sign the fading Cicinho; instead they had purchased the Cicinho who last played for Palmeiras.
He covers the ground very fast, contributes going forward, he's strong in the tackle and reads the game well enough to intercept through balls.
These are all characteristics Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos, Adriano and Martín Cáceres displayed when they played for Sevilla.
Two of Sevilla's next three games are against Barcelona and Real Madrid, so it will be interesting to see if Cicinho is the real deal. Even if he's terrible, give him the benefit of the doubt, because this is his first season in Europe.
1. Theofanis Gekas, Centre Forward, Age: 32
From Samsunspor to Levante on a free transfer
Theofanis Gekas generally goes missing for the majority of the game until he pokes home a goal against the run of play.
He seems to thrive for unfancied teams like Bochum, Eintracht Frankfurt, Samsunspor and Greece.
His CV is impressive: Golden Boot in two separate leagues, UEFA's top scorer during the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign and he once scored in eight consecutive Bundesliga games.
Levante's decision to sign Gekas should ensure the team remains in La Liga for another season.
Maybe the Greek could inspire Levante to make a deep run in the Europa League like Javi Moreno did for Alavés during the 2001 UEFA Cup.
In recent seasons, Levante have struck gold with cheap forwards.
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