La Liga Transfer Watch: 5 Best Free Summer Transfers

Michael CernaCorrespondent IJanuary 24, 2013

La Liga Transfer Watch: 5 Best Free Summer Transfers

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    The January transfer window is nearing its close, which means that many European clubs are desperate to finalize deals that could save their seasons.

    While almost any player seems fair game for the footballing giants, other clubs have to be much smarter with their targets.

    One of the more carefully calculated, yet risky moves for a club to make is to go after players whose contracts will end this summer.

    Those players' clubs are likely going to do their best to get something for that player before they would lose him for free in just a few months.

    Of course, that could also lead to those players' transfer fees being inflated due to demand and desperation from various parties.

    Some of these players might leave their clubs before February, while others are already negotiating summer switches.

    What follows is a list of the five best transfer targets in La Liga whose contracts will expire this summer, making them a commonly discussed player in the winter transfer window.

Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao)

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    Over the last few seasons, few strikers have been consistently better than Fernando Llorente.

    The Lion King has fallen out of favor in Bilbao after announcing that he does not want to renew his contract, but he will surely find a welcoming new home soon.

    Llorente is one of La Liga best aerial threats and is very good with his feet for someone of his size.

    A club like Barcelona would greatly benefit from his height, but it appears that Juventus have beaten all Spanish clubs to the punch by luring him to Turin.

    La Liga will lose a tremendous talent if Llorente leaves, and Athletic Club may regret not fighting harder for him.

Javi Fuego (Rayo Vallecano)

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    Bleacher Report's Allan Jiang has long been a big fan of Javi Fuego for the midfielder's incredible ability to read and intercept plays.

    This is what Jiang had to say when he ranked Fuego among the underrated players in football: "Well, in Europe, there's Javi Fuego, who's the best tackler I've seen since Claude Makelele (in his prime)."

    Mighty big praise for one of La Liga's best defensive midfielders.

    Valencia are reported to have snatched him up, and if the rumored deal with Iago Aspas is also completed, Los Che should be back in the top-three battle next season.

Oscar Gonzalez (Real Valladolid)

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    Valladolid's former youth star is finally back in the first division with his original club and is in great form this season.

    The Spanish midfielder has formed a spectacular partnership with Patrick Ebert at the newly promoted club, and the duo are the main reason La Pucela are doing so well right now.

    Oscar is 30 years old, but remains a tremendous scoring threat, as is evident by his nine goals—the best in Spain among midfielders.

    Last fall, Sky Sports reported that some Premier League clubs were interested in the veteran, and he would be a welcome addition to countless clubs.

Joan Verdu (Espanyol)

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    Joan Verdu has long been one of the most respected and talented midfielders in Spain.

    Verdu is an earlier product of La Masia and would improve almost any team in Europe with great depth at the very least.

    Barcelona radio station RAC1 reported that Atletico Madrid have nearly locked him up after negotiations with Espanyol stalled.

    Atleti already have one of the most stacked midfields in the league and will get Pizzi back from loan next season.

    The addition of Verdu makes them even more dangerous, not to mention the potential signing of Leo Baptistao from Rayo Vallecano.

Joaquin (Malaga)

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    Malaga's best midfielder will be 32 at the start of next season, but it would be foolish for any club to let Joaquin's age turn them away.

    The former Valencia star is in tremendous form this season and is proof that speedy players can adapt and even improve their game when their legs start to slow.

    His former club Real Betis is rumored to be a potential destination for Joaquin, but some of Spain's larger clubs should at least consider signing the veteran this summer.