LaLiga transfer market review: The major arrivals and projects

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Antoine Griezmann returns to Atletico Madrid. (PHOTO: LaLiga)
Antoine Griezmann returns to Atletico Madrid. (PHOTO: LaLiga)

There was a dramatic end to the 2021 summer transfer window in Spain, with several late deals that were signed, sealed and delivered just before the deadline. Other transfers from earlier in the summer have also caught the eye, with some of those new LaLiga Santander players already impressing on the pitch through the first few matchdays. 

Overall, Spanish clubs can be pleased with the business they’ve conducted in the off-season. There are some really exciting sporting projects taking place in Spanish football right now, so here comes an outline of 10 of the most fascinating storylines from this window.

Griezmann and De Paul strengthen the champions

Atletico Madrid are the reigning Spanish champions and they’re determined to defend their crown and to make another run in the Champions League. To do that, Atletico have had a busy summer. Early on in the transfer window, they brought in Argentine midfielder Rodrigo de Paul from Udinese after an excellent Copa América. Then, in addition to the young Brazilian attacker Matheus Cunha, the last hour of deadline day, a deal was struck with Barcelona for Antoine Griezmann, their fifth-top scorer in club history, to return to the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano. 

A youthful Valencia look to rise again

Valencia are one of the biggest clubs in Spanish football and they’re working hard to get back to the top. José Bordalás has been brought in as their new coach, while the club were very busy in the transfer window by signing lots of talented young players. Marcos André, Hugo Duro, Omar Alderete and Giorgi Mamardashvili are all under the age of 25 and were all acquired this summer. Combined with the talented academy products coming through, this means Los Che have the youngest squad in LaLiga Santander with an average age of 25.

Memphis Depay leads Barcelona’s new-look attack

Big changes have taken place at FC Barcelona, with the squad transformed from top to bottom in new president Joan Laporta’s first transfer window. Despite losing Lionel Messi, Barça fans have a new forward to get excited about as Memphis Depay has hit the ground running following his switch from Lyon. After already rippling the net in pre-season, the Dutchman then scored two goals across FC Barcelona’s first three matches of the new LaLiga Santander season. Next to him, football fans could also find Kun Aguero in this new Barça front line.

With the two Alexanders, La Real have a super Scandinavian strike force

Real Sociedad fans have a lot to be excited about as 2021/22 gets up and running. Their leading two strikers this season will be Sweden’s Alexander Isak and Norway’s Alexander Sorloth, after La Real agreed a new contract with the former and signed the latter on loan from RB Leipzig. The two Alexanders are very different types of forwards and could form an epic partnership for the ages. 

Villarreal invest their winnings

The 2020/21 season was a memorable one for Villarreal, who won their first ever major trophy by defeating Manchester United in the Europa League final. That European run, their subsequent qualification for the Champions League and a top seven finish in LaLiga Santander brought in significant income for the club and they’ve invested it wisely this summer. Winger Arnaut Danjuma and striker Boulaye Dia have both been bought by the club, while Villarreal also made Juan Foyth’s loan into a permanent stay. The Yellow Submarine are looking strong as they continue to grow. 

LaLiga SmartBank’s top two can feel confident

The two automatically promoted sides last season were Espanyol and Mallorca, who had 82 points each. As they prepare for the challenge of staying up in LaLiga Santander, both sides have made a splash in the transfer market. In the case of Espanyol, they’ve signed the highly rated midfielder Yangel Herrera, who has already demonstrated he is a top LaLiga Santander player during a previous loan at Granada. Mallorca, meanwhile, have brought in a mix of youthful talents like Takefusa Kubo, Kang-In Lee and Fer Niño, as well as veterans such as Rodrigo Battaglia, Jaume Costa and Ángel Rodríguez. 

Real Madrid start and end the window with signings

Two signings were made for Real Madrid’s first-team squad this summer, one which was announced just before the window actually opened and another that was made official on deadline day. The first was the free transfer of David Alaba, with the veteran defender arriving after a decade of non-stop success with Bayern Munich. Already, in his first few LaLiga Santander matches, the Austrian has looked the part. The deadline day signing was one for the present and the future, as Los Blancos bought highly rated 18-year-old French midfielder Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes. 

Signing safe hands

Various LaLiga Santander clubs signed new goalkeepers this summer. Rui Silva was signed by Real Betis to be their new starting goalkeeper, while new signings Matías Dituro, Kiko Casilla and Giorgi Mamardashvili have all already started games for their new clubs Celta Vigo, Elche and Valencia respectively. Several other shot-stoppers have also been brought in to compete or provide cover. 

Sevilla build a squad that can compete for the title

Sevilla were already a genuine title challenger in 2020/21, but now they have an even stronger squad as they look to make some noise in 2021/22. None of their starters from last season have left the club during the summer months, not even Jules Koundé, while they’ve added some very intriguing pieces by signing Marko Dmitrović, Ludwig Augustinsson, Erik Lamela, Gonzalo Montiel, Thomas Delaney and Rafa Mir. 

Bellerín will finally play in LaLiga Santander

Héctor Bellerín may be a La Masía graduate and he may have been capped by the Spanish national team, but the 26-year-old right-back has never actually played in LaLiga Santander. Until now, that is. Real Betis have brought Bellerín in from Arsenal to replace Emerson on the right of their defence and the Catalan will finally have a chance to show Spanish football fans what he can do.

Top transfer signings in LaLiga for the 2021/22 season. (INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga)
Top transfer signings in LaLiga for the 2021/22 season. (INFOGRAPHIC: LaLiga)

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