20 Best Attacking Players to Watch in La Liga This Season
This weekend sees not just the return of La Liga, but the return of normality. The normality of games spread over three days, sometimes four, with some matches kicking off as late as 23:00 local time in Spain and carrying into the next day.
There's been a substantial amount of talk over the summer about the Spanish league's exodus—Radamel Falcao, Alvaro Negredo, Roberto Soldado and Jesus Navas are among those to have left for foreign shores—but there are still plenty of attractive players to watch.
The following slides list the 20 best attackers to watch throughout the 2013/14 season.
For the sake of the list, an attacking player was calculated as someone who would either be classified as an attacking midfielder, a winger or a striker.
Due to the top-heavy nature of the league, Barcelona and Real Madrid could possibly have their own top 20 by the end of the transfer window, so each Primera Division club was restricted to three players inside the top 20.
Clubs Which Missed Out...
Of the clubs set to participate in the new La Liga season, 11 have players featured in the top 20.
Before we get round to that though, here's the best attacking player for each of the nine clubs which missed out on being represented.
Almeria: Suso (on loan from Liverpool)
Celta Vigo: Nolito
Elche: Manu del Moral (on loan from Sevilla)
Getafe: Pedro Leon
Levante: Ruben Garcia
Malaga: Pedro Morales
Osasuna: Miguel de las Cuevas
Rayo Vallecano: Lass Bangoura
Real Valladolid: Patrick Ebert
20. Piti (Granada) ST
Other than the two who shall remain nameless, Piti is the highest scorer remaining from La Liga last season—tied with Ruben Castro—with 18.
Since registering that total the 32-year-old has swapped Rayo Vallecano for Granada, and the Andalusian club will need him to hit similar targets if they're to find the goals which evaded them last time out.
19. Giovanni Dos Santos (Villarreal) AMC
It's been an up-and-down career for Giovanni Dos Santos. He went from being a highly rated Barcelona youngster to a letdown at Tottenham, before bouncing back at relegated Mallorca after a series of loan spells.
The 24-year-old has swapped the Islanders for newly promoted Villarreal though, and his creativity, coupled with Jeremy Perbet's goals, can only benefit the Yellow Submarine's La Liga return.
18. Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao) AML
After exciting European football in Athletic Bilbao's double cup final season in 2011/12, Iker Muniain experienced a dip in form under the strict Marcelo Bielsa regime last season.
Still only 20, under the guidance of Ernesto Valverde, the forthcoming campaign promises the opportunity of Muniain re-finding his form in an Athletic team which seems set to improve on the disappointment of Bielsa's final season.
17. Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia) AMR/L
Algerian international Sofiane Feghouli is one of a number of players who could excel under Miroslav Djukic at Valencia this season.
A technically gifted attacking midfielder, the 23-year-old is set to embark on his third straight season as a regular at Los Che, following a loan spell at Almeria previously.
16. Kevin Gameiro (Sevilla) ST
A summer of change at Sevilla has seen a number of high-profile players depart for new challenges, while several new faces have jetted in too.
Among exciting signings like Jairo, Vitolo, Carlos Bacca and Marko Marin is former PSG striker Kevin Gameiro, who will be tasked with replacing the 24-goal output of Alvaro Negredo.
15. Ruben Castro (Real Betis) ST
Alongside Piti, Ruben Castro—other than you know who and the other one—is the top scorer remaining from the batch of players who played in La Liga last season.
His 18 goals helped Real Betis qualify for the Europa League and, while Benat and Jose Canas are among those who have left the club, Castro adds a familiar feel to Pepe Mel's new-look squad.
14. Pizzi (Espanyol) AML
Deportivo de la Coruna fans were excited by the young Portuguese talent Pizzi last season, and Javier Aguirre could have produced one of the deals of the summer by bringing him to Espanyol on loan.
Cornella El-Prat will miss the creativity and guile of Joan Verdu, who left for Real Betis, but the 23-year-old should help to ease the loss.
13. Arda Turan (Atletico Madrid) AMC/R/L
Radamel Falcao headed out of the door at Vicente Calderon but, despite plenty of speculation, Atletico Madrid managed to hold on to their other assets.
Their Turkish international Arda Turan was one, and his underrated creativity, plus his versatility across the triumvirate, will add plenty of entertainment to La Liga next season.
12. Markel Susaeta (Athletic Bilbao) AMR
Alongside the deeper midfielders of Benat Etxebarria and Ander Herrera—although the latter has been touted for a more forward-thinking role this season—Markel Susaeta is expected to push Athletic Bilbao up the table this season.
The wide-right midfielder has enjoyed an impressive preseason under Ernesto Valverde and the 25-year-old will be drawing plenty of attention from bigger clubs.
11. Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad) AML
Even though Asier Illarramendi switched his Real from Sociedad to Madrid this summer, there is plenty to still be positive about in San Sebastian.
One positive is young Frenchman Antoine Griezmann. The attacking midfielder-cum-forward has bags of potential and is one consistent season away from a move to one of Europe's really big clubs.
10. Ever Banega
A three-hour drive drive up the coast from Valencia takes you to Barcelona, where not only do they have Rosario's most famous man, Lionel Messi, but they are also now managed by a man from the very same Argentinian city.
Back in Valencia, it's another Rosario native who Los Che fans are pinning their hopes on ahead of the new season: Ever Banega.
All signs point towards Mirsolva Djukic building his team around the 25-year-old, with the Argentinian international set to play an advanced, focal role in front of a platform of two from Oriol Romeu, Javi Fuego and Michel.
9. David Villa
Nearly 300 career goals at club level don't come about through fluke, neither do 56 goals for your country.
Since breaking his leg at the end of 2011, David Villa has never quite been able to make himself the mainstay in the Barcelona side which he had been when he first arrived from Valencia.
Now 31, he was granted a move to Atletico Madrid this summer and, if he stays fit and in the side, the prospect of a regularly scoring Villa in La Liga is a mouthwatering prospect.
8. Diego Costa
Diego Costa is your archetypal "if he's on your team you love him, if he's not you hate him" player.
Fortunately for Atletico Madrid, and possibly for La Liga's entertainment purposes too, despite interest from Liverpool the Brazilian forward didn't ditch Spain for England, instead signing a new deal at the Vicente Calderon this summer.
He'll dive, he'll moan, he'll push the boundaries of gamesmanship, but he'll also heavily contribute to a Los Rojiblancos side which are looking to do the unthinkable and breach the top two.
7. Carlos Vela
Carlos Vela didn't quite end the season as consistently as he'd been for large parts of it, but the Mexican forward was a key part of Real Sociedad's qualification for the Champions League.
He scored 14 goals, an improvement on 12 from the previous season, and will be looking to go better again in his third season with the San Sebastian club.
It can only be a positive that he's surrounded by talented players such as Antoine Griezmann, Xabi Prieto and Ruben Pardo ahead of the new campaign.
After a tug of war between Manchester City and Real Madrid for his signature, Isco eventually opted for the latter—even if it was a little bit awkward that his dog was named Messi!
The former Valencia youngster enjoyed a more-than-eye-catching season with Malaga last season, topping it off with national success at this summer's Under-21 European Championship.
And the 21-year-old is already emerging as a big hit at the club due to his preseason performances, and excitement is brewing ahead of his relationship with the likes of Mesut Oezil and Cristiano Ronaldo this season.
While all around called for a new defender, Barcelona went out and splashed their cash on Brazilian superstar Neymar.
It wasn't exactly surprising though, the deal to bring the 21-year-old has long been on the cards. It was just a question of when.
He dazzled as Brazil won the Confederations Cup at home this summer, and the excitement surrounding his debut season, where he'll link up with the likes of Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi, is high in Catalunya.
4. Mesut Oezil
Mesut Oezil is often overlooked, but it can't be understated how good and how important he is to Real Madrid.
His relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo has created 20 goals over the past three seasons in La Liga, while he managed 13 assists throughout the last domestic campaign.
The German international should benefit from the additions of Isco and Asier Illarramendi around him and will play a key role in Carlo Ancelotti's side across all fronts.
3. Andres Iniesta
Watching Andres Iniesta glide past players with the ball and create space the way he does is recommended viewing for everyone at least once in their lifetime.
The 29-year-old is one of La Masia's most famed products, and he is showing no signs of slowing down or losing motivation following a trophy-laden career.
Occasionally used as a left forward last season, the arrival of Neymar signals that Iniesta will be used in the position when he excels most—as the most advanced of Barcelona's midfield three.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
Let's not make this about these two. One has to be second, one has to be first.
Coming in second is Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid's talisman and a scorer of goals which consist of quantity and quality.
After managing 55 La Liga goals last season, Cristiano has set himself the target of smashing 70 in ahead of the forthcoming campaign, according to Marca.
It's going to be a lot of fun watching him try.
1. Lionel Messi
After the disappointment, no, humiliation, of last season's Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, you get the feeling that Lionel Messi is determined to push Barcelona on again this season.
Winner of four Ballon d'Ors, owner of a lot of records and scorer of a few goals, Messi will be joined, and presumably aided, in attack my Neymar next season.
If those two hit it off as well as some have speculated this summer, then things could get pretty special.