With the world cup barely over, Premier League transfer window shut and season under way, here in Spain the league kicks off tonight so we are taking a look at some of the summer transfer activity and what we can expect from the teams this season, especially local sides Valencia CF and Levante UD.
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Although we want to talk about our two local clubs, the transfer story of the summer in Spain was of course the move for CR7 from Real Madrid to Juventus so we are starting in the capital. Everyone will have their opinion on this move however VST thinks this is the beneficial deal for everyone concerned. This did start the Modric to Italy rumours which his Agent was all too happy to flame the fire, with the result being a big new bumper contract for the Croatian. A more cynical man might say this rumour was created for exactly this reason. No other moves out of the club have disrupted their first team. Coming in, high-profile transfers for World Cup Golden Glove winner Thibaut Courtois and €45million for 18-year-old Brazilian winger Júnior are the two that have court the eye plus solid full back Álvaro Odriozola moves to the capital from Real Sociedad. The Gareth Bale saga seems to have been put to bed with the move of Ronaldo with the Welsh man set to be their main man for the season under the new coach. Neymar to Real Madrid and now Pogba has been the talking point but both very unlikely, but a move for Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno seems more likely with Los Che hoping to fend them off after a quality season last year. The Super Cup loss has the press chatting about further moves but we don’t see anything of any significance happening now.
A transformation last season by Valencia saw them back towards the top of the league and quite easily secured 4th spot and a champions league place. This brings its own problems with most of Europe’s big spenders sniffing around. This is not something Valencia aren’t used to with the likes of Silva, Mata, Villa, Alba, Otamendi, Soldado and more leaving for big fees in recent times. They have already put a big no entry sign up for Geoffrey Kondogbia (pictured) who some of the Premier League clubs had been sniffing around, a player who was a massive addition to the midfield on loan last year from Inter, who they took the option to buy this summer for €25m. Another exciting addition for Los Che is Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi who is on a season long loan. I think this is a great move for both parties and see the Belgium scoring an absolute hat full this term. An exciting season ahead and the fans and board alike will hope for no further loses during this final week and if this can be the case, then VST would expect another 4th place finish for Valencia CF.
Levante UD were an unknown package last season. After smashing La Liga 2 securing promotion, the club were positive about the season ahead. With one win in just over 5 months after a great start, the writing seemed to be on the wall and relegation loomed. A change of manager early march and 25 points from a possible 33 to finish, including the 5-4 win over Barcelona to prevent an invincible season, they ended up a respectable 15th. For a small local family club like Levante, Bournemouth had been looking at a transfer for Columbian defensive midfielder Jerfferson Lerma prior to the world cup at a fee of around €17m, and this amount is hard to turn down. After an impressive tournament, he eventually left for a whopping €25m, a record sale for the club. It will be a big loss, but Levante have been quick to invest with club record signings for Ghanian hit man Raphael Dwamena (pictured) for €6m, before smashing this just a few days ago for attacking midfielder Nikola Vukcevic for €9m from Braga. Goals and quality in the final third were a big problem last season and with Nigerian winger Moses Simon also another quality attacking addition, they will hope all three hit the ground running. Defensively Coke has been bought from Schalke although the experienced Spaniard was with the club last term on loan. The big question is will the loss of Lerma affect the balance and defensive qualities. As big fans of the club here at VST (we are partnered with Levante UD as part of their international training programmes), we sincerely hope not.
Last years champions have strengthened again with four purchases which will really add to the current side. Improving the spine and depth with new centre back Lenglet from Sevilla and central midfielders Arthur from Brazil and Vidal from Bayern will offer competition for places. Winger Malcom (pictured) has been on the radar for many of the top European sides but to Catalonia he has gone. Going out is world cup star Yerry Mina who looks a great buy for Everton but with minimal opportunities at the champions and €30m fee, this is a good move for Barca. A few other fringe players have made their exit but it is the loss of Iniesta which will be interesting to see how they fill this massive whole. The Xavi/Iniesta era is now over and what an era it was. It seems highly unlikely that any of the other top four sides will bridge the massive gap that is between them and Barcelona so money is on the champions to retain their title. But it is the Champions League that the supporters want to see an improvement in this season, nothing short of a win will do.
With Real Madrid going through more changes including the manager, losing their talisman and a pretty poor performance last year, Atletico Madrid are, for us, bang on for second place again this season. Their key players have stayed such as Griezmann, the defence is one of the best around, Costa will continue to produce and they have strengthened again this summer while getting rid of some of those surplice to requirements. One of the buys of the summer, although hardly a bargain at €63m, was Thomas Lemar. The former Monaco winger will be the perfect addition to the side, offering more pace, width and goals to the side. In addition the capture of proven La Liga holding midfielder Rodri will add even more stability. Improved in both defence and attack, Atletico are the only side who could potentially challenge Barcelona in our view. A decent start against Valencia away on match day one is vital.
Around the rest of the league, the other big money transfer outside of the top 4 and Valencia sides was Bilboa keeper Kepa to Chelsea for €80m. Sevilla as expected lost N’Zonzi to Roma and also winger Correa to Lazio and have used some of the money to try to find suitable replacements, Betis who had a great season last year finishing 6th, have picked up a decent defensive midfielder from Sporting Lisbon in William Carvalho and plenty of fringe players from the top 4 have found their way into other top flight Spanish sides and we can guarantee with varying success.
As always it will be interesting to see how the promoted sides take to the top flight. Last years promoted teams Getafe, Girona and Levante finished 8th, 10th and 15th (very) respectfully with the relegated teams a massive 14 points away from the next team in 16th. The three promoted in Valladolid, Huesca and Rayo Vallecano will need to hit the ground running to pick up some decent point over the first couple of months to stand any chance of staying up. It will be difficult for any of the chasing pack of Villareal, Betis and Sevilla to break into that top four this season. Only Villarreal we feel have potentially strengthened following summer sales with the hope Santi Corzola finds the fitness and quality to come back into the game in the best possible way following his terrible few years of injury. If Valencia however slip up, I have no doubt the Yellow Submarine will be ready to pounce.
A great season ahead of us and make sure you check all of the Valencia CF and Levante UD fixtures and contact us to book your package and tickets right now!