Ranking La Liga New Boys on Likely Impacts This Season

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2017

MADRID, SPAIN - JULY 07:  Real Madrid soccer player Jesus Vallejo is presented at Bernabeu stadium on July 7, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Eduardo Parra/Getty Images)
Eduardo Parra/Getty Images

The transfer window doesn't shut until September 1 in Spain, but plenty of La Liga sides have made great strides in strengthening their squads already.

While the likes of Dani Ceballos, Theo Hernandez and Vitolo have all made moves between clubs in Spain's top flight, there has also been the usual influx of new faces to the league as each club looks to snare the qualities it needs at a price that fits its budget.

But what can be expected of the new arrivals? How will they adapt to playing in Spain, and how much will they stand out against the quality that is already prevalent in La Liga? Here we look at the new additions to squads in the Spanish top flight, counting any who have been signed or registered to La Liga clubs this summer who weren't in La Liga last term.

The players are ordered by likely impact in 2017/18, not outright ability or future potential.


20. Cenk Gonen, Malaga

Turkish goalkeeper Cenk Gonen arrives at Malaga to provide depth in the position after the departures of Carlos Kameni and Guillermo Ochoa, but given he's spent the past five seasons on the bench in the Super Lig it's difficult to think he'll be doing anything different in La Liga.

Andres Prieto and Roberto, both Spanish, have also been signed this summer to provide plenty of options—but the smart money is on Roberto, at least to start with, being the No. 1.


19. Guido Pizarro, Sevilla

Sevilla hoard midfielders like Chelsea hoard half-decent promising youngsters to loan out for four years.

Guido Pizarro, a 27-year-old combative holding option, arrives from Tigres in Mexico. But given the enormous competition he faces for game time—Steven N'Zonzi, Ever Banega, Ganso and Michael Krohn-Dehli—he'll have to hit the ground running to make a positive impact.

A squad option, we're anticipating.


18. Stanislav Lobotka, Celta Vigo

FERROL, SPAIN - JULY 22:  Stanislav Lobotka of Celta de Vigo in action during the pre-season friendly match between Celta de Vigo and Racing de Ferrol at A Malata Stadium on July 22, 2017 in Ferrol, Spain.  (Photo by fotopress/Getty Images)
fotopress/Getty Images

The 22-year-old Stanislav Lobotka is a new midfield option for Celta Vigo, a confident ball-playing presence in the middle of the park who aids buildup play and attacks from deep.

After impressing at the European Under-21 Championship this summer, B/R's Sam Tighe rated him as one of the players to have most improved his stock on international duty and highlighted Lobotka's main strengths: "He's spent his time in Denmark orchestrating his team's play with slick passes and surging forward from deep with the ball and slaloming around markers. His end product is hardly perfect, but he creates ripples on the pitch when he moves."

Looks like Sam was on the money with his value rising too: Celta forked out around €5 million to sign him from Nordsjaelland.


17. Nemanja Maksimovic, Valencia

An interesting signing for Valencia. Nemanja Maksimovic was a key midfielder in Serbia's successful side in the European Under-19 Championship in 2013 and is already a senior international at 22.

He has already played in Slovenia and Kazakhstan, with Champions League experience and title-winning campaigns to his name.

He's a central playmaker, a free-transfer signing and could be a good foil for the likes of Carlos Soler if Valencia bring in a solid defensive holder to operate behind them.


16. Emanuel Cecchini, Malaga

Malaga's usual high turnover has continued this summer, with Emanuel Cecchini a new face in midfield. At 20 and out of Argentina for the first time, he might not be expected to feature prominently in his debut campaign.

However, we've bumped him up a couple of places based on circumstance; having sold Ignacio Camacho and released Ricardo Horta, Malaga also lost Pablo Fornals to Villarreal suddenly, a big blow after the talented midfielder bought out his contract to enforce the move.

As a result, Cecchini might be called upon earlier and more often than had been planned—unless Malaga quickly reinvest.


15. Gerard Deulofeu, Barcelona

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 21:  Gerard Deulofeu of AC Milan looks on during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Bologna FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 21, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)
Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Barcelona moved to execute a buy-back option on Gerard Deulofeu this summer, but the move feels entirely pointless.

Sure, he'll play a few games—against Getafe and the like or in the Copa del Rey—but is he going to challenge Neymar and Leo Messi for a spot more than Paco Alcacer or Arda Turan have done? Unlikely.

He may get the odd run of appearances during which he impresses, but Deulofeu has always lacked the consistency and work rate to make it at a top club. Then again, maybe a move home and a final opportunity could finally kick him into gear more regularly.


14. Filip Manojlovic, Getafe

We're taking a bit of a leap of faith here: Filip Manojlovic is a goalkeeper, aged just 21, but there's a reasonable chance he becomes Getafe's new first-choice stopper.

Vicente Guaita is his competition, experienced and Spanish but vulnerable and inconsistent. Guaita spent most of last term in the Segunda on the bench, while Manojlovic made the move to one of Serbia's biggest teams, Red Star Belgrade, and immediately became their No. 1.

He made his senior international debut in January and is highly rated, so we're expecting good things—tempered with the possible ups and downs all young players experience.


13. Adnan Januzaj, Real Sociedad

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17: Adnan Januzaj of Sunderland during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay between Burnley and Sunderland  at Turf Moor on January 17, 2017 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Once tipped as the next big thing at Manchester United, Adnan Januzaj's career has spiralled irrelevantly downward of late.

He's still only 22, so there's plenty of time to reverse the trend, but his loan spell at Borussia Dortmund was a waste of time, and he didn't shine at Sunderland last term—and he wasn't even a guaranteed starter as they were relegated from the Premier League.

A creative midfielder, he has moments when he can unlock a defence with a run or pass but also has a dreadful tendency to fade out of games and be easily pushed off the ball.


12. Ruben Semedo, Villarreal

Villarreal's restructuring is usually done with low-cost additions who go on to generate big fees later, so the signing of former Sporting CP centre-back Ruben Semedo for €12 million is a departure from the norm.

They will need Semedo to be much more consistent and better with his decision-making than he was at the U-21 Euros in the summer, but he has the pace and strength to dominate aerially and offer recovery possibilities against counter-attacks.

He'll partner the excellent Victor Ruiz, which should aid the transition because the Spaniard is good at organising his back line, confident in possession and diligent about his positional work.


11. Cristian Tello, Real Betis

FLORENCE, ITALY - APRIL 15: Cristian Tello of ACF Fiorentina in action during the Serie A match between ACF Fiorentina and Empoli FC at Stadio Artemio Franchi on April 15, 2017 in Florence, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Cristian Tello impressed at Fiorentina last season and should be a good addition for Real Betis if he finds consistency.

He's a threat from the flanks, makes good runs on the counter and can dribble at pace—though his finishing has always left a lot to be desired.

Tello has the task of replicating the drive from deep that Dani Ceballos offered but also the individuality of Charly Musonda from two seasons back. He's an interesting addition, but he's not a surefire success.


10. Paulo Oliveira, Eibar

A steady, reliable defender, Paulo Oliveira should prove a good signing for Eibar.

He's a central rock who is typically impressive at the edge-of-the-box defensive work: clearances, headers, stopping runs through the centre and reaching knock-downs before attackers.

Oliveira didn't fit at Sporting under Jorge Jesus, but Eibar's deeper defensive line should suit his strengths perfectly.


9. Luis Muriel, Sevilla

KASHIMA, JAPAN - JULY 22:  Luis Muriel of Sevilla FC in action during the preseason friendly match between Kashima Antlers and Sevilla FC at Kashima Soccer Stadium on July 22, 2017 in Kashima, Ibaraki, Japan.  (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)
Masashi Hara/Getty Images

A real enigma of a forward, onlookers have been waiting for Luis Muriel to explode for years—but he's 26 and has only netted double figures for league goals in a season twice: 11 in 2012/13 and then 11 again last year.

Mobile, technically impressive and capable of exciting moments, he's almost an archetypal impact sub. Can he transfer that ability to become a regular starter and scorer at Sevilla?

It's possible, but we're not anticipating it. He'll face competition for his position, and his capacity to go eight or nine games without a goal simply won't help.


8. Enes Unal, Villarreal

While Muriel hasn't yet been proved to be a prolific striker, Enes Unal hit 18 goals last year in the Eredivisie, and Manchester City have cashed in, taking around €12 million from Villarreal for the Turkish striker.

Aged 20, the tall forward is already a senior international, and there are signs he could be a player to lead the line for years to come.

La Liga is a step up, but he's got a great midfield supply line behind him and scheming options on the flanks. Chances will be created, and we're betting he makes an impact.


7. Jesus Vallejo, Real Madrid

Real Madrid's new player Jesus Vallejo plays with a ball after his official presentation at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on July 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO        (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)

Jesus Vallejo was on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt last term and returns to Real Madrid for the upcoming season, ready to finally make his debut for the team, two years after signing.

He'll be the fourth-choice centre-back, but one of those in front of him is Nacho—who covers at full-back—and the other two, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos, miss plenty of games through injury and suspension, respectively.

Vallejo will play his fair share of games and will impress.


6. Nolito, Sevilla

Despite a good start to 2016/17, Nolito didn't succeed at Manchester City—but should be a near-guarantee of a successful signing for Sevilla.

A wide forward who can create as well as score, he'll expect a regular place ahead of the World Cup with fierce competition for spots in the Spain squad.

The best bet is Nolito makes himself a key part of Sevilla's team and ends with a good haul of goals.


5. Ever Banega, Sevilla

KASHIMA, JAPAN - JULY 22:  Ever Banega of Sevilla in action during the preseason friendly match between Kashima Antlers and Sevilla FC at Kashima Soccer Stadium on July 22, 2017 in Kashima, Ibaraki, Japan.  (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

More important to Sevilla, however, is the signing of Argentinian midfielder Ever Banega.

He's a metronomic schemer at his best, able to pull the strings from deep and dictate the tempo of the team, but his defensive work is also impressive, and he'll offer balance in the middle.

Banega only spent a year away, but he was a big-enough miss for Sevilla to spend nearly €10 million on a player they lost for free last summer.


4. Fabian Schar, Deportivo La Coruna

After a disappointing season with Hoffenheim, Deportivo La Coruna snared a bargain in landing Fabian Schar for €4 million.

Tall, imposing and good aerially, Schar was one of the brightest defensive prospects in Europe when at FC Basel, and there's no reason to think he won't regain form and playing time in La Liga.

He'll be a leader for Depor and will no doubt earn them a big profit in a year or two.


3. Neto, Valencia

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 28:  Norberto Murara Neto of Juventus FC looks on during the TIM Cup match between Juventus FC and SSC Napoli at Juventus Arena on February 28, 2017 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Valencia's goalkeeping change sees Neto in to replace Diego Alves as No. 1, and the former Juventus reserve should be an easy first pick.

He'll face plenty of action if last season is anything to go by, with Los Che still a bit of a mess and needing to find a suitable system, players to hold organisation and some semblance of consistency throughout the team.

Neto will have the chance to impress as a result, and he should be a good last line of defence.


2. Sebastien Corchia, Sevilla

An excellent addition by Sevilla, perhaps a goodbye present from Monchi before the sporting director left for AS Roma.

Sebastien Corchia can burst down the flanks, can run with the ball or pull wide to create space out of possession, has a decent cross and final pass on him and is strong defensively too.

Right-back is a wide-open position, and he'll make the spot his own in a team that will attempt to dominate play and attack with frequency.


1. Nelson Semedo, Barcelona

Barcelona's new player Portuguesse Nelson Semedo poses with his new jersey and a ball during his official presentation, after signing his new contract with the Catalan club at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on July 14, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

Top of the charts is Barcelona's Nelson Semedo, a big-money signing who fills a problem position, offers the penetration and power down the flank that they lacked so often last season and is a strong player technically.

Even in pre-season, they already look somewhat more balanced with a true full-back on that side. There's no doubt he'll be a first pick for manager Ernesto Valverde, who is unlikely to experiment tactically the way predecessor Luis Enrique did last term.

Semedo should dovetail well with Lionel Messi further forward—if he plays on the right instead of centrally—finally putting to rest the ghosts Dani Alves' departure left behind a year ago.




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