La Liga Preview: Top 10 Signings to Watch This Season

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2013

La Liga Preview: Top 10 Signings to Watch This Season

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    It has been well documented that Spanish clubs, excluding Real Madrid and Barcelona, have been forced to be frugal during this summer's transfer window.

    Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla and most other sides have either lost their best player from last season, or at least one of their better players.

    The money they've received hasn't been completely reinvested back on the squad, so managers have been forced to work on frees, loans and cheaper alternatives.

    Despite this, there have still been plenty of deals which have led to fanfare.

    Over the following slides, B/R takes a look at some the top signings to watch out for in La Liga this coming season.

Best of the Rest

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    Including 10 signings didn't allow enough room to include some of the smaller transfers which could prove shrewd come the season.

    Here's a selection of clever deals which didn't quite make the cut...

    Almeria: Suso (Liverpool, loan)

    Celta Vigo: Rafinha (Barcelona, loan), Nolito (Benfica), Charles (Almeria)

    Elche: Javi Marquez (Mallorca, loan), Ruben Perez (Atletico Madrid, loan)

    Granada: Manuel Iturra (Malaga)

    Malaga: Fernando Tissone (Sampdoria)

    Osasuna: Miguel de las Cuevas (Sporting Gijon)

    Rayo Vallecano: Johan Mojica (Deportivo Cali, loan)

    Real Betis: Xavi Torres (Getafe), Didac Vila (AC Milan, loan)

    Real Sociedad: Esteban Granero (QPR, loan), Haris Seferovic (Fiorentina)

    Sevilla: Jairo (Racing Santander), Carlos Bacca (Club Brugge), Marko Marin (Chelsea, loan), Vitolo (Las Palmas), Vicente Iborra (Levante)

    Valencia: Javi Fuego (Rayo Vallecano), Michel (Levante), Oriol Romeu (Chelsea, loan)

    Villarreal: Jeremy Perbet (RAEC Bergen Mons)

10: Riki and Piti (Granada)

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    While many teams have been stripped of their star assets, Granada are one of the few La Liga teams who have managed to build on last season's squad.

    What they were primarily lacking last season was goals, and Lucas Alcaraz has actively sought to introduce plenty ahead of the new campaign.

    Experienced duo Riki (pictured) and Piti have arrived from Deportivo de La Coruna and Rayo Vallecano respectively—between them they scored 31 goals last season, six less than Granada as a whole.

     

9. Giovanni Dos Santos (Villarreal)

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    Villarreal are back in La Liga at the first time of trying after suffering relegation at the end of the 2011/12 campaign.

    Since securing promotion, manager Marcelino has added some talent to his squad.

    Giovanni Dos Santos' arrival from Mallorca looks to be the best bit of business—the Mexican will add plenty of creativity in the final third.

    Tomas Pina, a defensive midfielder, has also arrived from Mallorca, while Jeremy Perbet, who scored heavily during a loan spell at the club last season, has signed too. 

8. Benat Etxebarria (Athletic Bilbao)

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    Allowed to leave Athletic Bilbao for Real Betis in 2009, Benat Etxebarria returned home this summer for a fee of around €8 million, as reported by Athletic´s official site.

    The central midfielder has been the main force in Pepe Mel's Betis side over the past two seasons; a Betis side which earned qualification into the Europa League for this coming season.

    A return to Basque country was too hard to turn down though, and the 26-year-old will form an exciting midfield alongside Ander Herrera, Markel Susaeta and co.

7. Kevin Gameiro (Sevilla)

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    It's been a difficult but strangely optimistic summer for fans of Sevilla.

    They have seen Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Gary Medel all depart for big money to the Premier League, while others have left too.

    But while players have been heading out quickly, they've been coming in just as quick too.

    Kevin Gameiro, a 26-year-old French forward, has arrived from PSG, and he will be expected to fill the void of goals which Negredo has left behind.

    He'll be paired with Carlos Bacca, a prolific scorer in the Belgian league, while service from incoming players such as Vitolo, Marko Marin and Jairo looks promising.

6. Joan Verdu (Real Betis)

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    Like their city neighbors in Seville, it's been a summer of mass ins and mass outs for Real Betis.

    While they were unable to keep staples like Benat Etxebarria and Jose Canas, they have been able to bring in some clever replacements.

    Joan Verdu's arrival from Espanyol is particularly eye catching.

    An advanced midfielder, everything will go through the 30-year-old, and his technique and creativity will be key in the final third. 

5. Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)

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    Alvaro Arbeloa has come under increased scrutiny for both club and country over the past 12 months.

    For quite a while now he's had little competition for his place at right-back in the Real Madrid team, but Dani Carvajal's return will certainly signal the end of that.

    Los Blancos exercised the option to bring the 21-year-old back to the Bernabeu in June, having allowed him to leave for Bayer Leverkusen the previous summer.

    His promise should see him become a regular starter at Madrid, and, when that happens, full international honors won't be far away.

4. Leo Baptistao and David Villa (Atletico Madrid)

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    Atletico Madrid have replaced Radamel Falcao with two players at the opposite ends of their career, with both, on the face of it, looking like clever signings.

    David Villa ignored advances from England to swap Barcelona for the Spanish capital, and he'll add plenty of composure in front of goal.

    Then there is Leo Baptistao, an exciting young Brazilian who impressed at Rayo Vallecano last season. His youthful energy should perfectly complement Diego Costa's bite and David Villa's experience. 

3. Pizzi (Espanyol)

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    Pizzi has the potential to light up Cornella El-Prat this coming season, after Javier Aguirre moved both swiftly and smartly to secure him on loan from Benfica.

    The Portuguese attacker enjoyed an impressive season with Deportivo de la Coruna last time out, but he still has bags of room to improve.

    Alongside Mubarak Wakaso, a winger with undoubted talent but an inconsistent streak, Espanyol could either be one of the surprises of the season or get lost in mid-table mediocrity.

2. Neymar (Barcelona)

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    Barcelona shelled out on Neymar this summer after years of talk that he would eventually end up at Camp Nou.

    A forward wasn't Barca's most pressing need, but players like Neymar don't come along that often.

    The Brazilian lit up the Confederations Cup in his home country, which has led to plenty of drooling over the prospect of him forming deadly partnerships with Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and co this season.

     

1. Isco and Asier Illarramendi (Real Madrid)

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    In a kind of cheat, Real Madrid's two mega-money signings who were both Under-21 European Championship winners this summer and have names beginning with "I" share the top spot.

    Isco, 21, arrives from Malaga with the potential to become one of football's most creative players, while midfielder Asier Illarramendi, 23, was snapped up from Real Sociedad.

    The signings are representative of the direction which Madrid have taken this summer.

    Florentino Perez and Carlo Ancelotti, Gareth Bale saga aside, have signaled their intent to build a young, Spanish team.

    Illarra and Isco could form the backdrop of Madrid sides for the best part of the next decade.