Espanyol’s final day heroics changed the make up of La Liga’s European qualification in dramatic fashion.
Rubi’s side won 2-0 at home to rivals Real Sociedad to overhaul the Basque side in the race for the Europa League, with Athletic Bilbao also losing at Sevilla, to leave the path clear for the Catalan side.
Roberto Rosales and Wu Lei were the heroes against Imanol Alguacil’s side, and the significant cash injection that European football brings will need to be smartly invested in order to prevent the vultures circling over Espanyol’s key players.
Rosales’ loan move from Malaga ended on the final day of the season, and Rubi will be hopeful of securing a cut-price deal for the Venezuelan international, while Lei only signed for the club six months ago from Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG FC.
However there is set to be serious bids for defender Mario Hermoso and top scorer Borja Iglesias before the start of the 2019-20 campaign.
Hermoso, who can play at either full back or centre back, is already on the radar of Premier League side Arsenal and La Liga rivals Valencia CF.
The Spanish international is available for a fee of around €25m, a fee both sides would happily pay to improve their shaky defences, however Espanyol must do everything in their power to keep him at the RCDE Stadium.
His form has been the base that Rubi’s side have built upon, and removing him would be a setback for their plans to remain in the La Liga top ten.
The other key job for Rubi, is keeping sides away from star asset Iglesias, after the former Celta Vigo forward netting 17 goals in his debut top flight season.
Iglesias was brought in at the start of the campaign to solve the gap left by Gerard Moreno to Villarreal CF and he outscored Moreno, with four goals in the last three games of the season.
He offers a physical presence for Rubi’s counter attacking side, and his ability to bring others into play has been central to their progress.
Bids are likely to come in for both Hermoso and Iglesias before the start of the 2019-20 campaign, and Rubi may have to sell one of them to balance the books, but both players heading out of the club would be a real problem for the side.
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