PREMIER LEAGUE

Spanish successes and failures in the Premier League

David De Gea

David De Gea has had another outstanding season at Manchester United despite the transfer cock-up at the start of the season, Florentino Perez insists that he will sign the goalkeeper.

Photo: Carl Recine REUTERS

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Xabi Alonso

Xabi Alonso became a Kop idle in his time at Liverpool, a ticking clock that the rest of the team set their watches by. The Spaniard won the Champions League in his debut season, the FA Cup final the next year, was instrumental in the merseysiders European run in 2007 and came oh so close to winning a Premier League in his last year on Merseyside. He moved on to Real Madrid for around €40 million. A bargain.

Photo: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC AFP

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Albert Ferrer

Albert Ferrer showed up at Chelsea with the weight of the Barça 'Dream Team' tag on his shoulders having won the European Cup, The UEFA Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Super Cup, The Spanish Cup twice, The Spanish Super Cup four times and La Liga a staggering five times. He cost Chelsea €2.5 million in 1998 and came with the promise of a speedy, attacking wing-back with a penchant for goal. The international era had begun at Stamford Bridge and he played alongside greats such as Gianluca Vialli, Zola and Jodi Morris. He made over 70 appearances for Chelsea and was a regular during his early career, helping the Blues to qualify for their first ever Champions League campaign.

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Emilio Aldecoa

When Emilio Aldecoa escaped the Spanish civil war and began playing for a Staffordshire electrical works team, he could hardly have dreamed of one day winning La Liga with Barcelona. The remarkable story of this unlikely trajectory began when Wolves spotted his talents in 1943 and brought him into the fold. Emilio finished the season as Wolves’ leading scorer with 11 goals in 30 games. Despite scoring on his debut for Coventry City in a 3-1 win at home to Portsmouth, after a move in August 1945 the following season brought disappointment, as league football resumed post-war, he failed to score in 29 appearances for Coventry. Aldecoa returned to Spain in 1947 and eventually joined Barça in 1951 via Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Valladolid, winning the league title with Barça in '51. The storied player was even capped by Spain in 1948 where he came on as a sub in a 2-1 win against the Republic of Ireland in May at the Montjuiic Stadium, Barcelona.

Photo: Diario AS

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Roberto Martinez

This photo shows Roberto Martinez playing for Wigan Athletic during a second division match against Millwall at the New Den in London. Millwall might have won 3-1 that day, but Martinez was part of the team won promotion from the third into the second division. Forming part of the "the three amigos" alongside fellow Spaniards Jesús Seba and Isidro Díaz, Martínez showed leadership qualities throughout his career, chosen as club captain at both Swansea and later Chester. His contribution off the pitch was to be much greater as he led Swansea to promotion and kept Wigan in top flight football for three seasons running before being chosen as David Moyes' replacement at Everton.

Photo: Getty Images

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Josemi

Josemi arrived at Anfield as one of a torrent of Benitez' Spanish signings, originally intended as Steve Finnan's replacement who Rafa didn't rate. Signed from Malaga for just £2 million in July 2004, Josemi had a reputation for being a hard-tackler and picked up a yellow card on average every three games. Finnan proved Rafa wrong and a mix of injuries and poor form condemned Josemi to journeyman status, released after 18 months, Josemi went on to Villareal, Mallorca, Greek side Iraklis Thessaloniki, Segunda's FC Cartagena, then back to Greece's Levadiakos FC. Josemi has a Champions' League medal from Liverpool's historic 2005 victory where he managed one of the most shameless photobombs in modern footballing history, wrapped in a Spanish flag.

Photo: FRANCOIS LENOIR REUTERS

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Antonio Nuñez

After Josemi, Rafa Benitez' next Spanish punt was on Antonio Nuñez, another flop at the Kop: An attacking midfielder that Real Madrid had drafted in from Las Rozas back in 2001, one of the quartet of Spanish players signed by Rafa in his first season as Liverpool manager. The next two were Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia. He arrived at Anfield in August 2004 as part of the Michael Owen transfer to Real Madrid and almost immediately picked up a horror knee injury in training. He didn't play until November and scored his only goal for Liverpool in the Carling Cup final defeat by Chelsea in that season. He did play a part in Liverpool's Champions League success including appearances at Anfield against Olympiacos and Chelsea, and was an unused substitute in the Champions League final against AC Milan. He left Liverpool to return to Spain with Celta Vigo at the start of August 2005 after just one season at Anfield. After three seasons with Vigo he moved Spanish Second Divisio outfit Real Murcia.

Photo: PACO SERINELLI AFP

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Albert Luque

He did it for the money! The most obvious motivation for decisions in football is often overlooked, but when £9m was stacked up on the table, Albert Luque just couldn't say no. Graeme Souness brought the forward to Newcastle in the summer of 2005 when Freddy Shepherd was shelling out cash for able-bodied footballers like money was going out of fashion. Further evidenced by Michael Owen's £17m move in the same summer. Luque was in high demand in that fateful summer, Real Madrid and Barcelona (where he learned his trade) were both after his services as the lightning winger had shown real quality during his time at Deportivo. The Catalan chose the cash, and the rest is history. A bad omen for Luque came when a debut goal against Man Utd was ruled out, and his very next game brought a hamstring injury that practically ended his career, he played 19 times for Newcastle after that, and was shipped out in 2007 for a cutprice £2m.

Photo: NIGEL RODDIS REUTERS

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Roberto Soldado

Just becasue a player costs €30M, doesn't mean he'll score 30 goals a season. Soldado's ill-fated spell at White-Hart Lane was a mistake on many parts. Spurs have to be blamed for bringing in a player who didn't fit their system, and when coach Villas-Boas was ousted for Tim Sherwood, suddenly Soldado lost his Iberian ally. Adebayor was Sherwood's first choice striker, often playing up front on ihs own, a role that Soldado has never revelled in, the Spaniard used to having a strike partner next to him. 40 appearances, 5 goals, 6 assists. That was Soldado's record by the end of his 2 seasons in England where he failed to adapt and the team failed to adapt to him.

Photo: ANDREW YATES REUTERS

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Marcelino

"The fans called me a thieving Spanish gypsy who was stealing the club's money", complained £6.7 million 1999 Newcastle signing Marcelino Elena, after the club payed him to go away in 2002. He made 17 appearances in three seasons. Another inauspicious start saw him pick up a groin strain on his debut and was substituted at half time. On his return to the first team Marcelino played in the next three games and Newcastle conceded eight goals. He isn't remembered fondly on Tyneside.

Photo: VILCHES Diario AS

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