Barcelona spending millions to stop Real Madrid
Barcelona challenges Madrid pulling the checkbook. Lewandowski, star signing in LaLiga. The rest of the clubs, without money, barely move in the market. Only 411 million have been invested.
LaLiga kicks off tonight - without Mbappé, who was swayed to stay at PSG for petrodollars. Others, such as Lewandowski, Rüdiger, Tchouameni, Rapinha and Nahuel Molina were keen to come to Spain; Isco didn’t want to leave and Cristiano aspires to return. Bernardo Silva could end up playing in LaLiga - the competition which could well produce the next Ballon d’Or winner, Benzema is the big favourite. The current Spanish and European champions, Real Madrid, picked up another trophy the other day - the European Super Cup. Barcelona meanwhile have dominated the transfer market, Atlético could be the dark horses in this season’s title race - or Sevilla. LaLiga is back and aiming to be one of the most exciting in recent years - even without Mbappé.
Osasuna vs Sevilla gets the new season underway tonight at 21:00. It will be an atypical season, as it will be interrupted for more than a month by the World Cup in Qatar (from 20 November to 18 December). That restricts the calendar and means LaLiga will end later than usual, on 4 June. Over the next 10 months, Real Madrid will be trying to retain the title, something that hasn’t happened since the 2007/08 season. Carlo Ancelotti’s team maintains the same base of last season - Madrid have only signed Tchouameni for €80M (the most expensive signing in LaLiga this summer) and Rüdiger on a free transfer. With several players leaving - Bale, Isco, Marcelo and Jovic. In an attempt to challenge Real Madrid this season, Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been doing some financial juggling to raise money in exchange for selling several of the club’s assets over the next 25 years. That’s been Barcelona’s response in their bid to stand up to Madrid after a bad season. So far, Barcelona have spent 153 million euros in this window. They are the LaLiga team to have invested the most, signing Lewandowski, Koundé, Raphinha, Kessié and Christensen. And the azulgranas hope to announce Marcos Alonso and Bernardo Silva before the market closes. Barça however, must stay within LaLiga’s strict economic guidelines to be allowed to register all of their new arrivals.
Simeone meanwhile, wants his team to redeem themselves from the bad image they gave last season. Nahuel Molina and Witsel are the new recruits at Atleti, along with the return of Álvaro Morata, who has shone during the pre-season, and Saúl. Atlético, have been quiet in this summer’s transfer window but will be among the aspirants to win LaLiga. That is why Cristiano was keen to join the Rojiblancos, in spite of his Real Madrid past. Sevilla, meanwhile, have suffered two significant setbacks, losing two central defenders (Diego Carlos and Koundé) but have reinforced with Isco, Marcão and Telles.
Pellegrini’s Betis has managed to build a solid project in recent seasons and keep the team in Europe for another year. They have signed Luis Henrique and Luiz Felipe, but like several of the renewed players (including Joaquín) they are not yet registered in LaLiga due to financial problems. Villarreal, the first Spanish club to play in the Conference League, has signed El Comandante Morales, Femenía and Pepe Reina. And Rayo Vallecano, after signing from Falcao last summer, will be reinforced one more year with another old school LaLiga rocker: Diego Costa.
Where there has been hardly any movement is on the benches. Only three clubs have a new coach. In San Mamés Valverde returns after Marcelino’s departure; Espanyol has opted for Diego Martínez, who led Granada to Europe a couple of seasons ago; and Gattuso brings an Italian influence to Valencia. Valencia have endured a rough few years institutionally and on the field after waving goodbye to many of their stars. Guedes was the last to go (leaving €32.6M in the coffers); new arrivals include Nico, Samuel Lino and Samu Castillejo.
Most of the signings in Spain have had to be at zero cost, as clubs continue to tighten their belts. The delicate economic situation continues to affect Spanish clubs, who have invested €411.79M in total. Figures still very far from those before the pandemic (+€1,000M). Spain is, among the five major leagues, the fourth with the highest spending after the Premier League (€1,474.5M), Serie A (€599.62) and Bundesliga (€471.58M).
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