Cheap and Cheerful: Top Five Freebie Deals of the Summer in La Liga
In a manner akin to an earthworm trying to comprehend the workings of an iPad, the moves made by Real Madrid in the final days of the transfer window were above anything 18 La Liga clubs could understand. One million splurged on a puny human to kick a ball about would be a huge expense, never mind one hundred million.
Normal life in La Liga over the summer away from the big two saw an awful lot of footballers moving about for no fee whatsoever. But that does not mean that a posse of players who were either out of contract or cast out on loan cannot offer a massive amount to their new teams. Here are the cheapest and most cheerful of Spain's close-season deals.
5: Joan Verdu, Espanyol to Betis (free transfer)
The former Perico playmaker did not get a pleasant reception at all from the home fans during Sunday’s visit of Betis. That stemmed from two irate emotions from the Espanyol faithful. The first was the perception that the footballer had deliberately run down his contract to be able to squeeze as much salary as possible out of the next club he moved to.
A stronger sensation still was the fact that Verdu had offered so much to Espanyol and would now do the same for Betis. The Catalan scored nine league goals last season and was at the heart of everything good that Espanyol ever did.
The defensive midfielder may well be regretting the move to the ever newsworthy Valencia already with the club already in its third crisis of the summer. The first was a change of president, the second being some public grumblings from players followed by the thumping by Espanyol in the second round of La Liga matches.
Once things settle down in Mestalla though, then the locals will be able to appreciate a very astute signing. While not one of the glamour names of La Liga, the former Rayo midfielder was one of the hardest-working footballers in Spanish football showbiz and a tireless grafter in front of the Vallecas back four. Fuego was one of the key reasons why Rayo have punched well above their weight over the past two seasons. Valencia are hoping for some of that magic to rub off on them.
Granada are a baffling club to track in terms of transfer dealings due to ownership links with Udinese, Watford and Cadiz. However, the side from the small city in Andalusia is extremely global in its signings with players coming in from Nautico in Brazil to Algeria’s JS Kabylie. However, the club’s best bit of business was picking up Piti who was out of contract at the very non-exotic Rayo and looking for a much better and more regularly paid gig.
The forward ended up at Granada in what was seen in Spain’s chattering classes as a very cheeky and most excellent swoop. The 32-year-old was one of the sensations of the season last year, with 18 league goals for Rayo. Indeed, Piti has already popped up with a strike for his new team, an effort that earned a point at Celta last weekend. If the Barcelona-born forward can manage even half the total of the last campaign, it would have been a fine bit of business from Granada.
The forgotten man of a whole bunch of forgotten men at QPR last season, there were high hopes that a classy player who could not get a starting role at Real Madrid would take the Premier League by storm. It was not quite to be, with Granero, who must have been relieved to have got a loan deal with Real Sociedad after starting the season in Huddersfield with his former London club.
Granero is the chosen footballer to partly plug the gap left by Asier Illarramendi, who departed for €30 million to Granero’s former team. Despite a testing spell at Loftus Road, the creative midfielder still has an awful lot to offer La Real with a vast amount of league and European experience picked up in the footballer’s time at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Now that’s how to wheel and deal ‘Arry. Atletico Madrid pulled off a bit of a coup with July’s signing of Martin Demichelis, who joined from Malaga having been out of contract with the southern club. However, the Argentinean’s spell at the Vicente Calderon was magnificently short.
The centre-back was poached by his former manager, Manuel Pellegrini, at Manchester City close to transfer deadline day for €5 million. It was quite the profit for a footballer who hung about Atletico for about a month, to spark a cheeky “#ThanksDemichelis” Twitter campaign from Rojiblanco supporters. Most crucially of all, though, is that the money made on the deal will pay for David Villa’s fee and some of his wages too. Absolute genius and by far the best freebie deal of the summer.
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