Three under the radar signings to watch in La Liga this season

Gerard Moreno_1

Seemingly with each transfer window that passes, the amount of money being spent by leagues around the world continues to soar. In the Premier League and Serie A alone, clubs have combined to collectively spend a mind numbing 2,159,150 billion euros this summer. In comparison, La Liga sides have been more prudent, spending a combined 689,920,000 million euros. Indeed, much of the attention garnered by the league this window has  centered around the players who are departing Spain.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus naturally hoarded most of the oxygen, as Real Madrid lost one of the best players in the world and undoubtedly the sport’s most marketable star. Many have wondered what the ramifications would be to the league as a whole, however that has not stopped other clubs from making history with their acquisitions.

Eight clubs have broken their transfer fee record so far this summer (Alaves, Atletico Madrid, Eibar, Espanyol, Girona, Huesca, Rayo Vallecano and Villarreal), proving that many clubs are financially healthy and willing to compete. Nevertheless, there has still been a flurry of shrewd signings that could prove to outperform the fee they were originally purchased for.

Without further adieu, let’s take a look at three players who could pleasantly surprise for their clubs this upcoming season.

Daniel Wass (Valencia) – It has been a relatively quiet window for La Liga’s biggest surprise team of last season. First year manager Marcelino orchestrated an incredible turnaround for Valencia, guiding the club to a 4th place finish on 73 points — just three  behind 3rd placed Real Madrid. Going into the summer, the primary objective of Los Che was to hang on to their on-loan stars — such as Geoffrey Kondogbia and Goncalo Guedes — who were instrumental in the teams ascension. While Guedes’ future is still anything but certain, Valencia were able to iron out a deal to keep Kondogbia at the Mestalla long-term.

Nevertheless, Marcelino was steadfast in his determination to improve the depth of his squad and he did just that with the signing of Daniel Wass from cross country rivals Celta Vigo. At a bargain price of €6m, Valencia have secured an incredibly versatile player who can fill in at both full back positions and across the entirety of midfield.

The right side of the midfield was a particularly thorny issue for Marcelino a season ago, but he now has the services of the experienced Dane, who featured over 100 times the past three seasons and became a mainstay in Galicia.

Takashi Inui (Real Betis) – Another surprising outfit from a season ago was none other than Real Betis. After a difficult stretch, Los Beticos righted the ship to finish an impressive 6th in the table. In an effort to build on that, Quique Setien’s side have been very busy shopping with a particular focus in the bargain aisle.

Seeking out quality players with expired contracts, Betis was able to find a gem in the form of Japan international Takashi Inui. After a sparkling World Cup, in which he scored twice and became one of his nation’s most beloved players, Inui decided to burn his commitment to Eibar and instead move to Andalucia on a free transfer.

The Japanese winger played 34 times for Eibar in La Liga last year, notching five goals for the offensively challenged side. At 30 years old, Inui will now feature for a setup that harbors ambitions of qualifying for the Champions League under the tutelage of a manger renown for his attacking style of play. In what is likely the last big contract of his career, Inui will be determined to show that his performance in the World Cup was merely just a preview of what’s to come.

Gerard Moreno (Villarreal) – Who ever said mistakes can’t be undone? Three years ago, Villarreal sold Gerard Moreno to Espanyol for 50% of his rights and a poultry fee of 1.5 million euros. The forwards departure hardly made waves at the time, yet Moreno would prove to be one of the league’s most productive bargains over the course of his stay in Catalunya.

The Spaniard was especially potent a season ago, as he bagged 16 goals in La Liga, only three fewer than Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann. Moreno’s prowess in front of net was imperative in saving Espanyol from potential relegation. Scoring nearly 50% of his sides goals, Moreno was the attraction for Los Periquitos.

Villarreal were undoubtedly impressed; setting a club record by splashing out 20 million euros in order to retain his services. The pressure will be on Moreno to replicate his form, yet all signs point to the 26-year-old continuing to grow into his own. Finishing fifth last year, Villarreal will hope to do one better this time out and land themselves an automatic Champions League spot. With Moreno leading the line, they should have every opportunity to make their dream turn into a reality.

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