• La Liga Lowdown

LaLiga Summer Transfer Window 2021: Club-by-club report cards

By Ruairidh Barlow & Thom Harris


The transfer window provided clubs across LaLiga with the chance to strengthen their squads or cash in to balance the books. Some will feel that they’ve done so and can be more ambitious as a result, while others have been left feeling like they didn’t quite get the job done.


Here, we take a look at the business of each club and give our opinion on their business.


Alavés


In: Mamadou Sylla (Girona), Toni Moya (Atlético Madrid), Miguel de la Fuente (Real Valladolid), Iván Martín (Villarreal), Manu García (Sporting Gijón), Florian Lejeune (Newcastle), Mamadou Loum (Porto), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Facundo Pellistri (Manchester United)


Out: Ramón Miérez (Osijek), Olivier Verdon (Ludogorets), Manu García (Aris Limassol), Lucas Pérez (Elche), Rodrigo Battaglia (Real Mallorca), Jota Peleteiro (free), Burgui (free), Fabrice Ondoa (free), Rodrigo Ely (free)


The first thing to say about Alavés’ transfer window is that they held onto their best player when perhaps it seemed impossible. Keeping Joselu, saviour and scorer of massive goals, is beyond what they could’ve hoped to bring in at the sharp end of the team. The challenge now falls to Javi Calleja to ensure he is in the right mental state to continue being the player he was.


It isn’t the only challenge presented to him this summer. In Rodrigo Ely and Battaglia, Jota Peleteiro and former captain Manu García, the Basques have lost a lot of contributions over seasons past, and character too. Jota isn’t such a loss, but he was one of the few who tried to address their chronic creativity issues.


Retaining Florian Lejeune and securing the services of Matt Miazga feel like good moves to shore up the defence and Manu García (the one arriving from Sporting Gijón) will hopefully reproduce the spark that Jota added and more in midfield. Ideally for Calleja, one of Iván Martín or Pellistri would undergo something a flowering in order to facilitate Joselu’s prowess in front of goal.


Overall, one could claim that this has been a decent summer of business if some of the bets on younger players come off. It would take significant powers of persuasion to make the case that this window improves Alavés’ fortunes. It was barely enough last season and in light of the other business from their rivals, this looks a little meagre in comparison.


Grade: C-

Athletic Club


In: Álex Petxarroman (Real Sociedad)


Out: Kenan Kodro (Fehervar), Unai López (Rayo Vallecano), Iago Herrerín (free), Ibai Gómez (free)


As with every year, this is the most unique assessment of transfer business in LaLiga. In terms of departures, Herrerín, Ibai Gómez and Kenan Kodro have all met the chopping block and with little prospect of minutes from Marcelino, it’s fiscally responsible.


Álex ‘Petxa’ is the only new face from Real Sociedad. This appears to be in anticipation of any difficulties in the renewal of Ander Capa’s contract; with only a year left on his deal, the Athletic hierarchy have been known to freeze out players who refuse to extend. Petxa has received decent reviews in his early days and provides perhaps a longer-term alternative in the right-back position, as he comes into his prime. Talk of a return for Javi Martínez quietened fairly quickly as he moved to Qatar and in truth, it isn’t the position of most pressing need.


Any serious reinforcement will, as always, come from the academy. Jon Morcillo and Nico Williams appear the most likely to help out in attack when Asier Villalibre and Iñaki Williams struggle.


Grade: C+


Atlético Madrid


In: Rodrigo de Paul (Udinese), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Matheus Cunha (Hertha Berlin), Benjamin Lecomte (Monaco)


Out: Saúl Ñiguez (Chelsea), Francisco Montero (Besiktas), Axel Werner (free), Vítolo (Getafe)


A fascinating window from the reigning champions rounded off with fireworks. Although Real Madrid are patiently saving their pennies for their own French addition, how many would’ve foreseen a transfer window in which Los Colchoneros could boast more financial muscle than anyone else in Spain?


In the first place, Atleti managed to retain almost the entirety of their title-winning side – a luxury Simeone didn’t have the last time around. The only exception to that is Saúl, who was becoming a source of discontent in the camp at any rate.


Despite that, he was still a useful squad player. As much as he hated plugging the gap on the left side of the pitch, only Renan Lodi and Yannick Carrasco are covering it now. Diego Simeone doesn’t fully trust Lodi, and neither can Mario Hermoso be the left wing-back in a five. Equally, if Sime Vrsaljko’s fitness shows no improvement then it will be Marcos Llorente who wastes his considerable talent there should Kieran Trippier be absent. Simeone doesn’t like a large squad and he only has four central defenders for three roles too.


In contrast, Simeone now must deal with uncertainty in attack given his plethora of options up front. The signing of Matheus Cunha seems frivolous now that Antoine Griezmann has returned: the Brazilian, João Félix and Ángel Correa will all feel the squeeze for minutes. Most seem to agree that it will be difficult for Luis Suárez to replicate his form last season, so more production was a necessity that has now been addressed. Additionally, Rodrigo de Paul would be a fantastic signing for just about any team and still more for Atleti. His range of passing offers a different dimension for the Atleti midfield without compromising on grit.


Overall, this squad is stronger than it was last season – that has always been the move for smart champions. Even if perhaps they could have done with a little more depth in defensively, a window in which you contract Antoine Griezmann just because you can has to be seen as a good one.


Grade: A

Barcelona


In: Yusuf Demir (Rapid Vienna), Sergio Agüero (Manchester City), Eric García (Manchester City), Memphis Depay (Olympique Lyonnais), Luuk de Jong (Sevilla)


Out: Emerson Royal (Tottenham), Junior Firpo (Leeds United), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid), Jean-Clair Todibo (Nice), Carles Aleñá (Getafe), Juan Miranda (Real Betis), Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain), Matheus Fernandes (Palmeiras), Monchu (Granada), Miralem Pjanic (Besiktas), Francisco Trincão (Wolverhampton Wanderers)


Perhaps the hardest team to judge of all 20. Without knowing exactly how much jeopardy the club is in financially, it’s a window that may look entirely sensible in time.


On a sporting level, there is no argument that Barcelona are a worse team, particularly for the loss of Lionel Messi, which is a wound that will no doubt hurt Barcelona again and again during the season. One of the figures expected to step up in his absence was Antoine Griezmann; never as good as his price tag was big, he still scored and assisted more than anyone else not named Messi last season.


Beyond that, none of the exits at Barcelona will leave much of a void to be filled. By freeing themselves of the salaries of Pjanic, Griezmann and Messi, Barcelona have saved valuable funds and raised some cash in the process. The continuing presence of Samuel Umtiti and Philippe Coutinho represent unsuccessful attempts to shift salaries still hurting them.


With major losses and without money to replace them, the free signings of Eric García and Memphis Depay seem astute moves. Like it or loathe it, personality oozes out of the Dutchman, a quality sorely lacking from others in the Blaugrana ranks of late. Luuk de Jong and Sergio Agüero are less inspiring options but most importantly, low-cost options.


It could be a tricky season and there were things that could have been done better, but the finances have to take priority over football at the moment. Joan Laporta has torn off the cast, the bandages and the sutures this summer. It will be a little gory, but this may be the first and most necessary step towards healing at the moment.


Grade: C

Cádiz


In: Santiago Arzamendia (Cerro Porteño), Tomás Alarcón (O’Higgins), Álvaro Jiménez (Albacete), Martín Calderón (Real Madrid), Varazdat Haroyan (Astana), Florin Andone (Brighton and Hove Albion), Milutin Osmajic (Sutjeska Niksic), Victor Chust (Real Madrid)


Out: Álvaro Giménez (Real Zaragoza), Jorge Pombo (Real Oviedo), Filip Malbasic (free), Augusto Fernández (retired)


There was a lot to love about the way Cádiz went about their business last season and early signs suggest that the fine work has continued into this year. With one of the smallest budgets, Cádiz have kept all of the cornerstones of their yellow wall in place. Some of the exits did contribute at times, but only infrequently.


Álvaro Cervera can now count upon at least two options of a similar calibre in every position, which will, in theory, guard against another defensive slump in the middle of the season. It remains to be seen how some of the signings will acclimatize to the heat, but all of Calderón, Chust and Jiménez should be able to make the jump. Straight into the fire was Armenian captain Haroyan and he looks very much at home in terms of both attributes and mentality, while Florin Andone brings a more proven alternative up front.


Similarly to Arzamendia, Alarcón looks a smart buy and at just 22 appears battle-hardened already. Intelligent with and without the ball, he is perfect for patrolling the midfield in Cervera’s system.


Even if Cádiz made a loss on this transfer window, all signs suggest they will be reaping the profits from it for a while to come. On paper, this is a better team than it was last year.


Grade: B+


Celta Vigo


In: Franco Cervi (Benfica), Javi Galán (Huesca), Thiago Galhardo (Internacional), Matías Dituro (Universidad Católica), Jeison Murillo (Sampdoria)


Out: David Juncà (Girona), Sergio Álvarez (retired), Sergio Carreira (Mirandés), Facundo Ferreyra (free)


It feels as if things are never simple in Vigo. Seemingly sailing on calmer seas this summer, they finally have a manager capable of extracting the quality they have in the squad. Naturally, president Carlos Mouriño had a public quarrel with key players Iago Aspas and Denis Suárez. At one point it looked as if it might have forced Suárez out and it still hasn’t been fully resolved.


In terms of the transfers that did take place, Celta signed one of the best players in the division at his position in Javi Galán. A signing that deserves plenty of praise, yet it is a little concerning he has no specialist replacement in the squad. The last-minute return of Jeison Murillo was also a necessity.


The arrivals of Cervi and Dituro can also be lauded, while Chacho Coudet gains an experienced striker who has scored goals for him before in the shape of Thiago Galhardo. None of the outgoings will cause much loss of sleep in Galicia which is usually the sign of good decisions.


On the surface, Celta have had a good window, adding some valuable tools for Coudet to work his magic with. Digging a little deeper, it is a delicately balanced squad and little margin has been left for injuries. Much like the team itself, if it works out well it can be brilliant; if things go wrong, it could become an uphill struggle fast.


Grade: B+

Elche


In: Pedro Bigas (Eibar), Lucas Pérez (Alavés), Gerard Gumbau (Girona), Enzo Roco (Karagümrük), Omar Mascarell (Schalke), Kiko Casilla (Leeds United), Darío Benedetto (Olympique Marseilles), Axel Werner (Atlético Madrid), Javier Pastore (AS Roma)


Out: Víctor Rodríguez (free), Nino (retired), Omenuke Mfulu (Las Palmas), Luismi (Real Oviedo), Miguel Cifuentes (UD Ibiza), Dani Calvo (Real Oviedo)


Elche’s propensity to leave things late both on the pitch and off it has thrown many a prediction into the air. Apparently doomed last season until the heroics of Fran Escribá and company late in the day, many had the same prognosis for Elche as the season kicked off. The consensus was that a significant improvement was necessary to save them from the drop this time and their late flurry of signings shows that the ambition to do so is there.


A key part of their defence Dani Calvo has left and experienced heads Miguel Cifuentes and Nino are also elsewhere, which represent their greatest losses. Enzo Roco has his faults but is a decent attempt at a replacement for Calvo. Crucially, Elche have retained all of their loanees who made notable contributions last year, now on a permanent basis, especially Marcone and Boyé who were important vertebrae in their solid spine last season.


The battle for places further up the middle of the park will be fiercely contested. Goals were infrequent last season but now Escribá can choose from five LaLiga-level strikers, even if none of them have been prolific of late. Service please? Javier Pastore is accustomed to more luxurious surroundings and on a free, this calculated risk might not amount to anything, but it might be the extra class which keeps them up.


The only small qualm with the squad is the right side of defence: neither Antonio Barragán nor Helibelton Palacios are watertight. This concern will however likely be mitigated by playing wing-backs. Last season Elche trundled along the road to safety well below the speed limit, whereas now Escribá has a little gas to work with.


Grade: A-

Espanyol


In: Sergi Gómez (Sevilla), Aleix Vidal (Sevilla), Loren Morón (Real Betis), Manu Morlanes (Villarreal), Yangel Herrera (Manchester City)


Out: Lluis López (Real Zaragoza), Matías Vargas (Adana Demirspor), Pol Lozano (Girona)


Before they suffered a shock relegation, many would have had Espanyol’s current squad fairly close to the European spots two seasons back. It’s a group they kept together for their year in Segunda and added a few pieces too. This window they have added five new players to that – all of which were playing for teams in Europe last time out.


Obviously financial backing is an advantage in this department, but it’s hard not to be impressed with the continuity of the project at Espanyol when considering the turmoil that relegation can cause. The team that won promotion has been filled out with a few LaLiga veterans and Manu Morlanes, who is capable of holding down a place in a Primera midfield.


How much opportunity he will have to do so is doubtful after the loan signing of Yangel Herrera. A brilliant addition and the heart of an excellent Granada team, the Venezuelan can be counted amongst the likes of Sergi Darder and Raúl de Tomás who have no business being near the relegation zone.


Pericos will be hoping that idea is manifested into reality and frankly, it should. With no obvious holes in the squad, the pressure will be on Vicente Moreno to deliver a comfortable season in Cornellà.


Grade: A


Getafe


In: Jakub Jankto (Sampdoria), Carles Aleñá (Barcelona), Jonathan Silva (Leganés), Sandro Ramírez (Huesca), Stefan Mitrovic (RC Strasbourg), Jorge Cuenca (Villarreal), Vítolo (Atlético Madrid), José Macías (Guadalajara), Florentino Luís (Benfica)


Out: Marc Cucurella (Brighton and Hove Albion), Francisco Portillo (Almería), Ángel Rodríguez (Real Mallorca), Xabi Etxeita (Eibar), Cucho Hernández (Watford)


The departure of José Bordalás was always likely to bring about change – Getafe president Ángel Torres has decided it should be radical. The appointment of Míchel represents his search for something different and many of the signings have reflected it too. Although the club was in need of fresh impetus, some would warn about the pitfalls of changing too much too quickly.


Those who the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez have said goodbye to were a logical part of the spring cleaning, save Marc Cucurella. His exit was the biggest challenge to the sporting directorate and Jakub Jankto is an unspectacular, if comparable, player in terms of profile. More worrying is the fact Getafe don’t currently possess anyone who feels most comfortable attacking down the right flank. It may be a case of Míchel playing wing-backs instead, but two of his first three fixtures have seen Carles Aleñá on the right of a four-man midfield.


Aleñá was useful last season and should only get better, which stands out as a good pick-up at low price. Several of the additions are younger, technical and promising players which should add a little more colour to a grizzled and grey attack. Then there are the veterans… most of whom carry with them as many doubts as they do guarantees.


Getafe have signed a lot of players who are looking for continuity and could be very useful if they fulfil their potential. The ceiling and the floor of this side are many positions apart: the fear is that it’s easier to for them to reach down rather than up.


Grade: C

Granada


In: Luís Maximiano (Sporting Club), Rubén Rochina (Levante), Luis Abram (Vélez Sarsfield), Sergio Escudero (Sevilla), Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Monchu (Barcelona), Santiago Arias (Atlético Madrid)


Out: Dmitri Foulquier (Granada), Roberto Soldado (Levante), Rui Silva (Real Betis), Fede Vico (Leganés), Kenedy (Chelsea), Domingos Quina (Watford), Nehuén Pérez (Atlético Madrid), Jesús Vallejo (Real Madrid), Yangel Herrera (Manchester City)


Much like Getafe, the most significant exit of the summer at Granada was a managerial one, as Diego Martínez departed. While his successor Roberto Moreno has plenty of elite-level experience, it could take Los Nazaries a little while to adapt to life without their inspirational coach.


The Andalusian side have lost a host of key players, including goalkeeper Rui Silva, along with the driving force of Yangel Herrera and Kenedy and the wily instinct of Roberto Soldado up top. On a tight budget, it was always going to be difficult to reinvent the spine of the side, but the club look to have found some promising long-term replacements to keep them functioning well in LaLiga.


22-year-old keeper Luís Maximiano is a promising shot-stopper comfortable with the ball at his feet and in front of him, Peruvian centre-back Luis Abram will bring extra solidity to the centre of defence. A young, creative midfield general, Monchu will look to fill Yangel’s shoes, flanked by the experience of Santiago Arias and Sergio Escudero at full-back. Carlos Bacca cuts a similar profile as a replacement for Soldado, yet maybe the biggest issue is that Robert Moreno might want to move away from what worked last season.


All in all, it’s been a solid window for Granada, given how much they lost and how much money they had available to try and find alternatives.


Grade: B+

Levante


In: Enric Franquesa (Villarreal), Roberto Soldado (Granada), Shkodran Mustafi (Schalke)


Out: Sergio León (Real Valladolid), Cheick Doukouré (Leganés), Toño García (Eibar), Rubén Rochina (Granada)


Despite operating with one of the smallest budgets in LaLiga, Levante’s fearless brand of attacking football often means that people forget just how remarkable it is that they have found stability and sustainability in the top-flight. It seems, however, that the Valencian club have struggled to find the bargains that they usually seem to find this summer and they head into the new season without really having been able to build upon their historic 2020/21 campaign.


While Roberto Soldado (36) has arrived to provide competition up front, there is a lack of depth to this Levante side, who are one injury to the likes of José Luis Morales or Roger Martí away from looking severely less potent. In the event he can do a decent impression of his former self while at Valencia, the last-minute signing of Shkodran Mustafi looks to be a shrewd addition to a perennially suspect defence. With little to room for manoeuvre in terms of the salary cap, their financial situation has held them back from really kicking on from an encouraging campaign last time out.


Grade: D


Osasuna


In: Cote (Eibar), Kike García (Eibar), Javi Ontiveros (Villarreal), Ante Budimir (Real Mallorca), Jonás Ramalho (Girona)


Out: Enric Gallego (Tenerife), Brandon Thomas (Malaga), Facunda Roncaglia (Aris Limassol), Adrián López (free), Rubén Martínez (AEK Larnaca)


In a summer devoid of drama, there can be no major complaints in Pamplona about their business. Croatian hitman Ante Budimir more than doubled the transfer record for a player arriving in Navarra, which demonstrates the faith that Jagoba Arrasate has in him. He should also benefit from the labours of expert craftsman Kike García alongside him. Add a fully-fit Chimy Ávila into the fray and Osasuna have a relatively entertaining attack to spring on the counter.


Left-back has been a problem position since the departure of Pervis Estupiñán, so Osasuna have kept Manu García on loan from Atleti and brought in Cote from Eibar. Together with Juan Cruz, the competition should produce a serviceable solution in the absence of an assured one. Javi Ontiveros is also there on loan in a reasonable effort to bolster the service to that frontline. Proven players, signed early, to address needs – this is a club with a plan.


Grade: B+

Rayo Vallecano


In: Fran García (Real Madrid), Randy Nteka (Fuenlabrada), Pathé Ciss (Fuenlabrada), Iván Balliu (Almería), Martín Merquelanz (Real Sociedad), Kévin Rodrigues (Real Sociedad), Sergi Guardiola (Real Valladolid), Unai López (Athletic Club), Nikola Maras (Almería), Iván Arboleda (Banfield), Radamel Falcao (Galatasaray)


Out: Luis Advíncula (Boca Juniors), Emiliano Velázquez (Santos), Miguel Ángel Guerrero (UD Ibiza), Alberto García (retired), Leonardo Ulloa (free)


Like Elche, this Rayo squad was wavering around the ‘cause for concern’ area when the season started. All of their recruits furnish the team with something different, whether that be cherry-picking the best talents from Fuenlabrada or bringing in three capable players from Basque football with Primera experience. Coach Andoni Iraola can now call upon a midfield of varying profiles but a good level across the board – good enough to go toe-to-toe with any midfield in the bottom half of the table.


The permanent signing of Fran García from Real Madrid is as sure as a thing can be at left-back and a deal that they are unlikely to make a loss on. The rest of the defence looks a little less predictable and with Luis Advíncula now in Buenos Aires, the right side won’t be able to count on the same dynamism. Sergi Guardiola may not score regularly, however he is consistently a nuisance to the opposition and another type of forward…


All of this was before the marquee signing of Colombian Radamel Falcao, who is another level of forward. ‘El Tigre’ was a force of nature during his time at Atlético Madrid and although he won’t destroy defences in the same manner, he does still possess the killer instinct. Following in the footsteps of Cádiz, Getafe and Granada in recent seasons, securing a veteran with pedigree in front of goal seems a big step towards salvation.


Grade: B+

Real Betis


In: Germán Pezzella (Fiorentina), Juan Miranda (Barcelona), Rui Silva (Granada), Youssouf Sabaly (Bordeaux), Willian José (Real Sociedad), Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal)


Out: Emerson Royal (Barcelona), Aïssa Mandi (Villarreal), Loren Morón (Espanyol), Sidnei (free)


In a disconcerting year, Real Betis converting themselves into a reliable team that ground out results didn’t cause great consternation. During the last two months of the season, Los Verdiblancos went unbeaten. Yet they also drew seven of their final eleven matches, which tells you that the margins were fine for Manuel Pellegrini’s outfit.


Their reward was a place in the Europa League. Stretching out those resources across another competition is likely to have a heavy impact on their ability to come out the right side of those margins. While the players signed are good, the squad as a whole looks little better equipped to deal with the extra workload.


On the positive side, Rui Silva is an excellent acquisition in goal and Germán Pezzella returns to immediately become the best defender at the club. Due to the unfortunate injury of Youssouf Sabaly, Héctor Bellerín should slot in easily at right-back where Emerson was. The hope must be that Andalusian flair for life will ignite some of the fire in Willian José, at his best good enough to lead the line for Betis.


Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that the depth just isn’t available for a strong season. Pellegrini can field a European-quality starting XI and equally a second-string XI that could trouble the relegation places.


Grade: C-


Real Madrid


In: David Alaba (Bayern München), Eduardo Camavinga (Stade Rennais)


Out: Martin Ødegaard (Arsenal), Álvaro Odriozola (Fiorentina), Raphaël Varane (Manchester United), Sergio Ramos (Paris Saint-Germain)


Another transfer window is slammed shut as Jim White would say, another window where fans of Los Blancos have spent more time thinking about deals that didn’t happen than the ones that did.

Sign a player they finally did after a whole summer without doing so last year. The player in question is a fantastic footballer on a free, poly-positional and in his prime. David Alaba’s signing hasn’t attracted much fanfare but will likely prove to be one of the best this summer. Equally, the same could be said of Eduardo Camavinga. A prodigy apparently destined for the top, he will provide some much needed relief in midfield this season.


And yet, there’s a distinct sense that some of the key issues have not been addressed, rather been left to sort themselves out. Bursting with talent, three years ago it would’ve been inconceivable that their forward line could struggle for goals. The return of Gareth Bale, perhaps a fit Eden Hazard, a consistent Vinícius Júnior… all of it sounds good, yet being very visual creatures, it’s hard to believe it until you see it. Sandwiched between Kaká and Luis Figo as Real Madrid’s seventh most expensive signing ever, Luka Jovic is back too.


The remaining Galácticos of yesteryear have been saddled with the donkey work and being another year wearier, Real Madrid saw the dangers of relying too heavily on an ageing core last season. Culturally, Sergio Ramos’ loss can’t be understated. The strategy is that one of Nacho or Eder Militão can replace him or Raphaël Varane alongside Alaba. The intention is that Dani Carvajal is fit all season.


If Carlo Ancelotti can navigate all of the uncertainties, this Real Madrid team can win the title race. A lean machine they are not, however. You would want to see this horse run before you bought your ticket.


Grade: C

Real Mallorca


In: Amath Ndiaye (Getafe), Dominik Greif (Slovan Bratislava), Matthew Hoppe (Schalke), Pablo Maffeo (Stuttgart), Kang-In Lee (Valencia), Takefusa Kubo (Real Madrid), Rodrigo Battaglia (Sporting Club), Fer Niño (Villarreal), Ángel Rodríguez (Getafe), Jaume Costa (Villarreal)


Out: Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Igor Zlatanovic (Maccabi Netanya), Enzo Lombardo (Huesca), Fran Gámez (Real Zaragoza), Josep Señé (Lugo), Aleksandar Trajkovski (Aalborg), Stoichkov (Eibar), Víctor Mollejo (Atlético Madrid), Marc Cardona (Osasuna)


Víctor Mollejo’s loan was terminated a day before the transfer window ended and normally that is a sign that something has gone wrong. A change of tact at such a late stage means something has occurred to alter the best-laid plans. In Mallorca’s rare case, it’s because everything went far better than expected.


Re-signing Takefusa Kubo and bringing him back to the place where he justified some of the excitement around him was a no-brainer. To be able to line-up Kang-In Lee alongside him is pretty thrilling in itself for Mallorca fans. One of the most talented young players in the league, Luís García may have a difference-maker if he can handle the South Korean correctly.


Fer Niño has shown plenty of promise early and Matthew Hoppe will also be hungry to prove himself on the island. In a perceptive move, the Mallorca board have given them a veteran in Ángel to learn from. In Pablo Maffeo and Rodrigo Battaglia, Mallorca secured two of the better elements of bottom half teams last year, and Jaume Costa is a safe pair of feet in defence too.


In its totality, this is a well-thought-out window rewarded with a lottery prize in Kang-In Lee.


Grade: A+

Real Sociedad


In: Alexander Sørloth (RB Leipzig), Diego Rico (Bournemouth), Mat Ryan (Brighton and Hove Albion)


Out: Martín Merquelanz (Rayo Vallecano), Modibo Sagnan (Tondela), Miguel Ángel Moya (free), Jon Bautista (Leganés), Kévin Rodrigues (Rayo Vallecano), Willian José (Real Betis)


After an impressive 5th placed finish last season, the most important task at Real Sociedad was to hold on to their key players. And having done so, even despite Alexander Isak’s exemplary EURO 2020 performances turning heads all across Europe, La Real can look forward to another exciting season.


A squad brimming with promise, from Isak to Ander Barrenetxea through to Martin Zubimendi, the txuri-urdin have only looked to bolster their squad depth, bringing in Mat Ryan as well as attacking full-back Diego Rico to cover for the evergreen Nacho Monreal. The one gripe is the centre of defence. So often their undoing, adding an imposing leader at the back would’ve been differential and it’s a little surprising they did not or could not tackle their biggest weakness.


Most exciting of all, though, is the loan arrival of Alexander Sørloth, a powerful Norweigan striker who scored 24 and assisted nine for Trabzonspor in 2019/20. The Scandinavian connection up front could be exciting, and certainly adds extra firepower to an already potent attack.


All in all, a solid window, with some goals sprinkled on top.


Grade: B


Sevilla


In: Rafa Mir (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Gonzalo Montiel (River Plate), Thomas Delaney (Borussia Dortmund), Ludwig Augustinsson (Werder Bremen), Marko Dmitrović (Eibar), Erik Lamela (Tottenham Hotspur), Oussama Idrissi (Ajax)


Out: Bryan Gil (Tottenham Hotspur), Aleix Vidal (Espanyol), Sergi Gómez (Espanyol), Franco Vázquez (Parma), Sergio Escudero (Granada), Tomas Vaclik (Olympiacos), Luuk de Jong (Barcelona)


Despite knowing that Monchi would have weighed up the options better than anyone else could, many raised eyebrows when Bryan Gil was sold in a part-exchange for Erik Lamela. It rankled a little to see such an exciting star depart before reaching maturity, however the good use to which Monchi has put that money makes dissent a brave position to hold.


To go with their very good starting XI, Sevilla now have better cover and competition at both full-back spots and instrumental cog Fernando may even be allowed a rest this season. Part of the great Eibar story, Marko Dmitrović was heavily involved in the miracle-making up north, and he will likely be the first-choice goalkeeper.


Desperately frustrating in front of goal at times, Rafa Mir is a young player capable of opening that door with brute force at others. Although he is yet to shave the inconsistencies from his game, it isn’t a drastic improvement Sevilla need. Even less so with Jules Koundé still there to prevent goals being conceded at the other end.


Sevilla may not have cracked the big three last season, but the transfer market is Monchi’s monopoly and everyone else is just playing in it.


Grade: A

Valencia


In: Giorgi Mamardashvili (Dinamo Tbilisi), Marcos André (Real Valladolid), Dmitri Foulquier (Granada), Omar Alderete (Hertha Berlin), Hugo Duro (Getafe), Hélder Costa (Wolverhampton Wanderers)


Out: Kang-In Lee (Real Mallorca), Kévin Gameiro (RC Strasbourg), Eliaquim Mangala (free)


Considering that just a few weeks ago, owner Peter Lim was blocking signings and threatening another mass exodus, this summer has been a lot better than many might have expected for Valencia.


While the baffling release of Kang-in Lee rightly touched a few nerves, Los Che avoided giving away too many of their star assets for free this season. With the €9.5 million addition of Marcos André, the first permanent signing that Valencia had made for 723 days, there certainly looks to have been progress made in the boardroom. A strong forward who is good on the ball and likes to run in behind, he could compliment Maxi Gómez very well, and allow the likes of Gonçalo Guedes to shine.


Right-back Dimitri Foulquier also joined for €2.5 million, alongside the loan signings of Omar Alderete and goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvilli, who has impressed so far between the sticks. Another powerful centre-forward, Hugo Duro, alongside pacey Leeds United winger Hélder Costa, give the man in charge options.


Without doubt Los Che’s best transfer business, though, was the arrival of manager José Bordalás. Having allowed the new man to bring in some of his own players in order to implement his physical, direct system, there’s quiet optimism that the new boss can bring some much-needed stability back to Mestalla.


Grade: B+

Villarreal


In: Arnaut Danjuma (Bournemouth), Juan Foyth (Tottenham Hotspur), Boulaye Dia (Stade Reims), Aïssa Mandi (Real Betis)


Out: Jorge Cuenca (Getafe), Manu Morlanes (Espanyol), Carlos Bacca (Granada), Jaume Costa (Real Mallorca), Fer Niño (Real Mallorca), Javi Ontiveros (Osasuna), Enric Franquesa (Levante), Ramiro Funes Mori (Al-Nassr)


In his first window, new sporting director Miguel Ángel Tena showed no signs of nerves as he promptly broke Villarreal’s transfer record to sign Arnaut Danjuma. With Samu Chukwueze often indisposed, Danjuma is the flame that could really ignite the Villarreal attack along with the emerging Yeremy Pino.


In Boulaye Dia, Villarreal have a forward blessed with some of the few attributes that Gerard Moreno doesn’t possess. Both he and Danjuma add power and pace to go with the nous they already have. These complements in attack are a step towards turning Villarreal’s multitude of draws from last season into wins and at least finishing fifth if not higher.


Exceptional for much of last season and the apple of Unai Emery’s eye, Juan Foyth remains in Castellón and is joined by Aïssa Mandi on a free. With Foyth likely to continue at right-back and taking into account the heavy workload of Pau Torres, it’s a little surprising they allowed Jorge Cuenca to leave on loan.


Still, one must go looking for flaws in their business to find them. Last summer Villarreal were widely crowned the ‘winners’ of the transfer window; el Submarino Amarillo aren’t too far away from that title this September either.


Grade: A

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