La Liga: Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Matchday 2

About half the teams in La Liga have played 2 games but matches are still being staggered and Barcelona for example will not play their first game until September 27th. Real Madrid, the champions did open their account and it was in disappointing fashion as they could only draw away 0-0 against Real Sociedad. But did any of their players make the final cut?

Check below to see if you’re fantasy players made the best 11 in Spain at the weekend.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Remiro- Real Sociedad 7pts

There were a few goalkeepers who kept a clean sheet and got 7pts but we will give the nod to Remiro of Real Sociedad who helped to keep Real Madrid at bay as the game ended 0-0. His value is 6m.

Defender: Aissa Mandi- Real Betis 5pts

Aissa Mandi makes the best 11 team for the 2nd week in a row. Mandi earned 5pts as his Real Betis team beat Real Valladolid 2-0 and he helped to keep a clean sheet and is becoming a stalwart of the Betis defence.

Defender: Marc Bartra- Real Betis 5pts

More points for Marc Bartra who played well alongside Mandi and there is a good relationship between the two players as Betis once again kept a clean sheet. Bartra is valued at 6.5m.

Defender: Fali- Cadiz 5pts

Fali came on in the 2nd half and helped his team shore up the defence and he kept his head as Cadiz beat Huesca 2-0 and kept a very important clean sheet away from home against the odds.

Defender: Djene- Getafe 5pts

Djene is a good defender who popped up in the best 11 players a few times last season and could be worth adding to your team. He helped his side Getafe keep a clean sheet as they beat Osasuna 1-0 at home at the weekend.

Midfielder: William Carvalho- Real Betis 6pts

Real Betis won their game 2-0 and William Carvalho scored a goal for the club to have a very good weekend. He was always a danger in midfield and seems to have hit it off with Nabil Fekir. It should be a good season for Betis.

Midfielder: Nabil Fekir- Real Betis 5pts

Nabil Fekir assisted and scored a goal but lost some points as he was booked. A very good player, his passing his sublime at times and he is valued in the fantasy team at 10m and has started the season very well.

Midfielder: Filip Malbasic- Cadiz 4pts

Malbasic might not be a house hold name but he helped his side Cadiz to a win at the weekend as he assisted in the 2nd goal which ended up being the winner towards the end of the game, he has started the season positively.

Midfielder: Adnan Januzaj- Real Sociedad 2pts

Just 2 pts has seen Januzaj make the selection in a weekend which was hardly vintage for La Liga, plus we are not back to a full schedule. He did well and held his own though in  midfield against the champions Real Madrid in a game that ended goalless.

Striker: Iago Aspas- Celta Vigo 8pts

Aspas is another player who kept finishing in the best 11 players of the weekend and he is becoming a real legend for his club Celta Vigo, Aspas scored both of Celta Vigo’s goals as they beat Valencia 2-1. He is worth so much to the club but you can add him to your fantasy team for just 8.5m.

Striker: Gerard Moreno- Villarreal 6pts

Moreno earned 6 pts at the weekend as Villarreal won their game 2-1. Moreno scored and assisted for the winner, and he had a goal disallowed so it was a very busy afternoon for the striker who deserves his place in the best 11 of the La Liga weekend.

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La Liga Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Matchday 1

The new Spanish season kicked off last weekend and with Lionel Messi deciding to stay at Barcelona, Real Madrid may have a real challenge this year. We should not forget about Atletico Madrid too who always remain a danger. However this first batch of games did not involve any of these teams. The games were reduced from the usual 10 to 7.

So which players made the difference on the opening weekend, do you have them in your team? Did they impress so much that you would consider getting them? Let’s take a look.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Claudio Bravo- Real Betis 7pts

A few goalkeepers got the same points but we will give this to Claudio Bravo for Real Betis who made some important saves but also because Betis were away from home and kept a clean sheet in beating Alaves 1-0. It was a solid display and a good result.

Defender: Oier Mate-Osasuna 7pts

Oier Mate not only helped Osasuna keep a clean sheet as they beat new comers Cadiz away he also helped assist in Adrian’s goal which was Osasuna’s first of the night in a 2-0 win.

Defender: Domingos Duarte- Granada 5pts

Granada beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0 and Duarte was everywhere, shoring up the defence and having an all round great game in helping his team secure a clean sheet.

Defender: Rafa- Eibar 5pts

This wasn’t an easy game for Eibar who drew 0-0 at home against Celta Vigo and finished the game with 10 men. However Rafa was a stand out defender for the club and earned his points as he helped keep a clean sheet.

Defender: Aissa Mandi- Real Betis 5pts

Aissa Mandi is becoming a veteran with Real Betis and a real stalwart with the club throughout the years. Betis did well winning 1-0 away to Alaves and Mandi did his job perfectly to help keep a clean sheet.

Midfielder: Ruben Garcia- Osasuna 6pts

Ruben Garcia can be snapped up for just 4.5m and last weekend he earned the most points as a midfielder in the league. He scored a goal for Osasuna as they won their game 2-0 and earned 6 points in the process.

Midfielder: Sergio Canales- Real Betis 4pts

Sergio Canales has been playing in La Liga now for some time and is still a great player to watch, really catches the eye. Canales assisted in Real Betis’ goal as they grabbed all three vital points.

Midfielder: Miguel Alfonso Herrero- Real Valladolid 3pts

Earning just three points wouldn’t normally put you in a team of the week but it has for Miguel Alfonso Herrero who would cost you 7.5m to add to your team. His team Valladolid drew 1-1 with Real Sociedad and he got the goal. However he was then booked five minutes after goal which penalised his points.

Midfielder: William Carvalho- Real Betis 2pts

Many defenders got 2 points but Carvalho played a good game with Betis in their away victory and made some vital interceptions, so he makes this team.

Striker: Jose Luis Morales- Levante 8pts

Jose Luis Morales had a strange game as he opened the scoring against Valencia which was a shock for Levante and he scored later in the game to get register two. But Valencia came back and won the game 4-2. So a bad game for his team but for him personally he had a good game and in fact scored the most points of any player in the league this weekend.

Striker: Maximiliano Gomez- Valencia 4pts

Gomez was involved in the same game as Morales and they take the strikers awards this week. Gomez was of course on the winning side as Valencia beat Levante 4-2 and he scored one of the four goals.

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Is the new La Liga season Diego Simeone’s last stand with Atletico Madrid?

What Diego Simeone has achieved at Atletico Madrid has been nothing short of brilliant. The team usually in the shadow of their neighbours Real Madrid experienced their most successful decade in the 2010s under Simeone which included a La Liga title, domestic cups, the Europa League and 2 Champions League finals.

However time waits for no man, and especially in football that rings true. One wonders if even Simeone is now on borrowed time at the club? Much of this comes down to last season when Atletico were tipped to do very well. But they ended the season without any silverware and it was the way they performed during the season that simply had a word in neon headlights- underwhelming.

Atletico finished 3rd last season but that could have been 4th as they finished on the same points as Sevilla. Whilst 3rd isn’t bad considering the league has Real Madrid and Barcelona in it, this was seen as not a vintage season for Spanish football. Atletico finished 17 points behind Real Madrid and even 12 points behind Barcelona who had a forgettable season by their standards.

Atletico only scored 51 goals, 35 less than Barcelona and Sevilla and even Villarreal who finished in 5th place scored more. In short not only were Atletico not getting the right results they were also quite boring to watch. Perhaps losing Antoine Griezmann who finally switched to Barcelona was the last straw? However over 120m euros was spent on Joao Felix as his replacement.

At the beginning of the season Felix looked exciting and sharp, and every time he was on the ball the crowd got excited. That dissipated quickly enough though and at the end of the season Felix was much like his club, underwhelming. Scoring just 6 goals and assisted in just one, was very poor for a player that had cost so much. True Felix was hit by injuries too but still played more than half the season. Felix has time on his side, but perhaps Simeone doesn’t?

Of course Simeone has been incredibly loyal to the club, and it would feel odd if they sacked him for having another mediocre season, but maybe Simeone will see that it is time to go. Let’s not forget that Simeone’s contract with the club doesn’t expire until the summer of 2022, but we all know that in football contracts count for very little if the time is right for a coach to move on.

This season will be very interesting where the fans will be expecting Felix to have a much better season. Alvaro Morata is back with the club after they purchased the striker for 56m euros.

Maybe after spending 9 years at the club the time is right soon to move on. However at the other end he has been superb, last season was a blip, and perhaps Atletico will be firing on all cylinders for the forthcoming season. It will certainly be engrossing to have Morata back on the scene, as the club really need goals.

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Barcelona Mark 2- what to expect from Messi and the new signings this season

A terrible season without silverware followed a nasty August for Barcelona when the best player to ever play for them told the club he was leaving. Lionel Messi was THIS close to joining Manchester City, but he will stay with the club at least for one more season.

The change of heart is not, at this time, because of the love of the club but more to do with the fact that he doesn’t want to be dragged through the courts and possibly miss up to half a season as he career free falls into someone’s laptop. Instead he has made the U-turn, and Barcelona will breathe a sigh of relief. So of course will new coach Ronald Koeman who may well have been resigned to losing the Argentine a few weeks ago.

Many have said that the era of Barcelona is over, underlined even with Messi in the side when they were destroyed 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Ivan Rakitic has rejoined Sevilla and Luis Suarez looks set to join either Juventus or PSG, either way Koeman has made it known that Suarez is not part of his plans. So it is all change at Barcelona, even with Messi staying, there is a new standing point for the player, who has mostly kept quiet, but his feelings are known now and he is demanding the best from the players on the pitch and the board on their leather seats.

Barcelona have been active in the transfer market and with Messi staying for now this is a boost to the club who have brought in some interesting players. The eye-catching transfer is Miralem Pjanic who comes from Juventus for 60m euros. Barca actually sold Arthur to Juventus for 72m euros, so that is almost like a swap deal.

Koeman has really identified the problem in Barcelona to be of the midfield and along with Pjanic has brought in Francisco Trincao from Braga for 31m euros. Pedri from Las Palmas who will probably see a lot of the bench is in the team for around 5m euros and Matheus Fernandes cost the club 7m euros from Palmeiras.

Also it is widely expected that another midfielder will be brought in that is Memphis Depay from Lyon. Depay had a good last season and has started well in Ligue 1 this season also. He has been tipped to join Barcelona for some time and it is understood that Lyon will not stop the player.

So for Barcelona at this moment it is all about fixing the midfield, maybe accusations of their demise have been exaggerated but then maybe they haven’t. Barcelona have been unlucky in recruitment in recent years, they have certainly splashed the cash only to see the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Phillipe Coutinho and Antonio Griezmann all come up empty. Can their luck change, Messi for one will be hoping so.

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Messi could stay at Barcelona, but is he the problem?

The transfer saga of Lionel Messi may just likely end up as a war of words and nothing else. Messi’s father held talks with the Barcelona board yesterday evening and there were some mixed reports. But some sources confirmed that Messi’s father is optimistic that Messi will make a U-turn and actually stay with the club.

In truth there are only 2 teams that look likely being the right fit for Messi, one is Barcelona and the other is Premier League side Manchester City, mostly because of the Pep Guardiola factor. However there is no guarantee that Guardiola will be at City for the next years ahead, he is entering his 5th season with the club which is a record for him, and this will be likely his final season in Manchester.

Also if you want to know the latest mutterings it makes sense to follow the bookmakers instincts. Last week City were the favourites to sign Messi and could be backed at 1.91 (10/11) to get their main. They are now the 2nd favourites and out to 3.00 (2/1). They have been replaced by Barcelona who are now big odds on at 1.30 (1/3) to keep Messi. That could tell us everything we need to know.

If Messi stays many people especially the fans of Barcelona will breathe a sigh of relief, he is so ingrained into the city, they know they will lose him one day, but no real Barcelona fan wants to lose him like this.

However here’s a thought, is Messi the actual problem at Barcelona? By problem that is not fully blaming him for everything, that would be churlish, and he has been the main reason why Barcelona have been one of the best teams in world football over the past decade. But has Messi simply grown to be such a star that he is stifling other players from growing.

Take out Messi right now from the team and Barcelona do not have higher level world stars in the team. They have very good players, players that on their day look the best in the world, but could it not be argued that the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Phillpe Coutinho could grow into their roles more if Messi was not there?

Messi is indispensable of course, but at the same time with no Messi in the team Barcelona would find another way of playing. And despite how brilliant he has been for the club, over the past few seasons it has become noticeable that he has stopped chasing back once he has lost possession of the ball. A hunger has left him, although that could be his personal protest of how the club are being run.

A team without Messi would be interesting and at the same time personally for Messi to be playing in a different league would benefit him surely. The fire seems to have left him, imagine having that reignited. And at 33 his best years are fading fast, that is the nature of the game, he perhaps has 2 very good seasons left in him at the very top. Would it not make sense to leave now?

Change is needed at Barcelona if Messi is to see any more silverware if he decides to stay. The club have spent close to £1 billion in the past 5 years. Big clubs spend big, but that money was being spent to win Champions Leagues, it did bring one for the club in that time but a club the size of Barcelona demand more, much more. That is how high the bar is at the club.

It will be very interesting in some ways if Messi does stay with Ronald Koeman in charge, at least if Messi stays with the league kicking off soon it will give the club a purpose in the early stages of the new season.

La Liga kicks off on September 12th, although Barcelona have been granted extra rest after their participating in last months Champions League. The club will play on the 12th but this will be a friendly match. Their first game of the season will take place on September 27th at home to Villarreal.

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Where will Messi likely end up?

In football and perhaps even outside football, 25 August 2020 will be remembered as the day Lionel Messi sent a request to Barcelona to release him so he can move to another club. His career has so far stretched over 16 years, with Messi winning 34 trophies and scoring 634 goals.

Obviously, Messi is a player considered by many to be the best in the world. His desire to leave comes against the backdrop of a humiliating 8-2 defeat at the hands of eventual Champions League winners Bayern Munich.

As the magnitude of his request continues to sink in the world of football, only a handful of clubs have a chance of securing the services of the Argentine wizard.

Clubs likely to sign Messi

The English Premier League has a strong following across the world with Messi also
known to be a close follower. This is further helped given that two of his closest friends,
Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Aguero have enjoyed great success from their exploits in
England. It is also believed that Messi spoke with Manchester City’s boss Pep Guardiola before submitting his transfer request. It should also not be lost that the key Manchester City boardroom staff of Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, also worked with Guardiola when he was coaching Messi at Barcelona.

Manchester City also stands as one of the few teams with the financial muscle to meet Messi’s salary demands. However, City may face serious competition from their neighbors, Manchester United, who are also believed to have the financial clout to seal
a move for the Argentine. While Liverpool’s boss Jurgen Klopp already ruled out a move, Arsenal and Chelsea have yet to give a response though it is highly unlikely Messi would join either of the London clubs.

Outside England, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) may tempt Messi to link up with long-time friend Neymar as they attempt to get their hands on that elusive Champions League Trophy. Other suitors that have been mentioned as possible destination include Italian champions Juventus who happen to have Cristiano Ronaldo in their squad! If you fancy your chances and want to bet where Messi might end up, look at various betting reviews like this Swedish betting site for legitimate options.

Heading home or staying put?

Messi has always said he hopes to end his playing career back in Argentina with his
boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys. However, security concerns are a major issue, particularly given the superstar has three young children attending school. Messi also believes that he still has something to give, and thus he sees the need to put the move back home on hold and instead continue to play in an elite league for a bit longer.

A possible scenario is that he may yet end up staying at Barcelona if his conditions are met and if he is convinced by the club’s hierarchy that they will try their best to create a strong and competitive side. Messi and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu currently have a strained relationship, which has been raised by more than one source as one of
the reasons why he wants to leave. A major hurdle that may prevent the Argentinian from leaving is the legal battles likely to come up. Messi had a contract that would have allowed him to leave for free in June this year.

However, some in Barcelona believe that the clause has expired, leaving Messi under contract until 2021. Any effort to take him away from Barcelona would have to be met with a 700 million buy-out clause, which obviously would be a world record.

Will he stay, or will he go?

Ivan Rakitic the latest to leave the Barcelona sinking ship

Ivan Rakitic has left Barcelona to rejoin Sevilla, and the fact he has gone back to Sevilla should speak volumes.

Some followers of Barcelona would like to play down Rakitic’s move as no more than a 32 year old who played six seasons with Barcelona simply moving on. But the timing and choosing of his new club is critical.

Lionel Messi has dominated the football news with his stunning transfer request which is in reality taking a stand at how the club has been run over the past 3 seasons. Now of Barcelona’s best midfielders over the same period of time Rakitic has left. True Rakitic was getting on in age, but he is a quality player that still had a few more seasons in him. The fact he has decided to go back to Sevilla where he enjoyed success and much less pressure says a lot. He will be returning back to the club, one suspects with a wide smile plastered over his face.

Rakitic scored 36 goals in all competitions for the club, but that was never why he was brought into the team. He commanded the midfield and set up well with Sergio Busquets after Xavi and then Andreas Iniesta left the club. Rakitic was the perfect fit and helped Barcelona win 13 trophies including 4 league titles and the Champions League which they won in 2015 and remains the last time the club has won it.

This is the season which is expected to be a big clear out for the club. Arda Turan finally left on a free transfer to join Galatasarey after a miserable time at the Nou Camp. Arthur joined Juventus for 72m euros although Barcelona didn’t really ‘see’ that money given that they then gave Juventus 60m euros for Miralem Pjanic.

Others players that are heading for a likely exit are Arturo Vidal who had a poor campaign and hasn’t really kicked on since his debut season with the club. Luis Suarez is almost certain to leave as new coach Ronald Koeman doesn’t see the former Liverpool striker in his plans. Suarez could leave for either PSG or Juventus. In fairness this is a deal that could be good for both player and club, it is obvious that Suarez has lost a few yards, and maybe just needs a fresh challenge.

There is upheaval at Barcelona, a new beginning that there can be little doubt. The club will splash the cash this summer make no mistake, but they have made many of those over the past few seasons, there seems like there is no room for error especially if they can convince Messi to stay.

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If Messi does leave Barcelona it could take 10 years for them to recover

The ownership power struggle at Barcelona has been in decline for the past 3 years. It is why since 2017 Lionel Messi has had it in his contract that in principle at the end of each season he could leave for free.

That was a threat from Messi- a player considered by many as one of the greatest players to have graced the game. It was supposed to be a warning sign to the Barcelona board to step up and manage the team properly. Since then despite being dominant in Spain,

Barcelona have failed at the highest level- the Champions League. Each of the last 3 years they have been in good positions to win it. Think of the collapse against Roma and Liverpool. Messi has not won the Champions League since 2015 when he was 28. His prime years are disappearing and he may not win it again.

This week it was still a shock to find out that Messi had handed in a transfer request to a club where he was supposed to spend the rest of his career with. But in all honesty it wasn’t a surprise.

Barcelona have been run into the ground over the past few seasons. Some of the board have quit and Josep Maria Bartomeu has made some uneasy decisions. He has been criticised for the way Neymar joined PSG, something that Messi seemingly has never forgiven him for. Then there is the way that the Neymar money was ‘wasted’. Players such as Ousmane Dembele and Phillipe Coutinho cost £250m between them, and both have been poor.

Messi expected Barca to replace the departing Neymar with other star players yet instead the club got stuck with one player who is injury prone and another who was moved on loan to Bayern Munich. Messi probably assumed that at least from the massive fee earned from selling Neymar, Barca would be able to sign at least two quality players and perhaps two decent players as a bonus. If you are a fan of casinos, then do not forget to check exclusive Casino bonuses in Canada.

On the other side under Bartomeu the club have won 13 trophies in just 5 seasons, that includes 4 La Liga titles and a Champions League. But the problems have really been growing for the past 3 seasons especially. The hiring of Quique Setien, a good man but out of his depth at Barca was met with disdain, the 8-2 bashing that Barca took against Bayern Munich with no plan a let alone a plan b summarised Setien’s season, one where Barcelona ended trophy less.

He was eventually sacked and Ronald Koeman was named the new coach. The same Koeman whose career has been steadily declining in club football. True he was doing well with the Netherlands and got them to the UEFA Nations League final, and they were set to participate in next summers Euro’s. Ironically it looked like Koeman had found his stage with the national team. Club football is different, and if you fail with Everton you may be out of your depth with the egos at Barcelona. It feels as if Koeman was given the job to soothe the Barca fans, after all he is fondly remembered here for his time at the club in the early to mid 1990s.

Luis Suarez has been reportedly told that he won’t play for Barcelona again, this has further angered Messi, although that could be a good decision for the club, Suarez clearly has lost some of his devastating pace.

Things are changing at the club and it feels like a new era is around the corner. Even for Bartomeu that could be true given that the new elections are next March, and there will be a new president at the club.

So is Messi playing a bluff? Did he hand in the request for Bartomeu to walk now? After all which president of the club wants to be known as the guy who sunk the ship so low that Messi begged to leave.  As it stands Bartomeu is going nowhere and neither is Messi. The problem is that Messi believed he could leave for free but that expired at the end of May. However Messi’s argument and it is a good one is that his get out of the club free expires at the end of each season. Because of the pandemic the curtain on the season last only came down 4 days ago. Maybe just maybe he has a point.

This is going to be high drama either way you look at it and most transfer windows in Europe will be open until the beginning of October, so this could run and run. Barca want 700m euros for a 33 year old, it doesn’t matter if Messi was 10x better than he is and aged 18 that wouldn’t be happening.

There are many consequences here and even though the club has handled affairs over the past few seasons poorly it also does not seem fair on them with La Liga starting soon that Messi would deliver this bombshell and want to leave for free. There are remember rumours circulating that Messi has a say on who will join the club and who will play with him. Did he have too much power himself? Is he really full of anger because the club could not prize back Neymar from PSG? One wonders if both parties and not just the club are at fault on this one.

If Messi leaves and with so much change revolving around the club it would surely be an end of an era for the Catalan giants. One could rule out trophies for next season especially against a well-oiled machine like Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will want to bounce back from an indifferent season also.

One is reminded of the early 2000s when Barcelona were genuinely suffering after Rivaldo left the club and they were struggling in La Liga. It took the club 5 years to bounce back then.But this is Messi who can guide a club, just look at this season, they won nothing and yet there he was again, aged 33 and still top goalscorer in Spain with ease.

Messi’s influence should not be underestimated and yet like so many other world class players before him it looks increasingly like he is going to leave the club by the back door. He will be remembered as one of the greats and Barcelona simply won’t be the same without him on that field. It really could take the club some time to recover perhaps 10 years before they get a great team together once again who can also gel.

What you have to remember with Barcelona is that finishing 2nd to them is like finishing 10th, what does it matter if you don’t win trophies and if a club like them go 3 seasons without winning the league it really is a crisis. If Messi leaves and the structure of the club falls apart because of it the recovery time could be a long way off.

As for Messi the favourites to sign him are Manchester City. That would make sense, with Pep Guardiola there and the way the club play such an attacking style and of course Messi could fit right into the vacant David Silva role. They look the favourites to get him or perhaps PSG who at least put their marker down this year by reaching the Champions League final.

Let the drama unfold.

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David Silva’s Real Sociedad move just another compelling La Liga storyline

It was the move nobody saw coming, not least Lazio who believed they had agreed a deal with David Silva with a medical even scheduled for the Spanish midfielder in Rome. Indeed, Real Sociedad caused waves with their announcement on Sunday evening that Silva had signed for them ahead of the 2020/21 season.

This is quite the coup for La Real. Silva has been one of the game’s most prolific and gifted playmakers for the past decade or so, earning his place as a Premier League legend over 10 years at Manchester City. Silva is held in such high esteem that City plan to erect a statue of him outside the Etihad Stadium next year.

He might be 34 years old and into the twilight of his career, but Silva was a key player for Manchester City right up until the moment he left at the end of his contract. He still has plenty to offer and Real Sociedad will be the beneficiaries of that. He will lift their midfield and creative play to a higher level.

It was already at a high level after the successful loan signing of Martin Odegaard, with the Norwegian marking himself out as one of La Liga’s best young talents over the course of the 2019/20 campaign. Odegaard has now been recalled to the Santiago Bernabeu, though. Silva is an exceptional replacement.

This should see Real Sociedad continue their development as one of the most exciting, exhilarating teams in the Spanish game at this moment in time. Last season saw La Real made great progress under head coach Imanol Alguacil and the signing of Silva should allow them to continue that.

While Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid might have occupied the top three places in La Liga for another season last term, there are plenty of storylines at a lower level to hold interest. Silva’s arrival at Real Sociedad is another of them. Unai Emery’s appointment at Villarreal and his signing of Dani Parejo from Valencia is another.

Real Sociedad have been building something for a few years now. They boast a number of exciting young players and experienced veterans who give them a good balance. Silva could become the player who makes them tick, though. The player to take them that little bit further. One wonders if Lazio will be watching.

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Barcelona crisis gives Real Madrid shade for their own problems

There is no other talking point in Spanish football at this moment in time. The crisis Barcelona have been plunged into after their humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the quarter finals of the Champions League, with the Camp Nou club seemingly crumbling a little more with every passing day.

Quique Setien paid for the loss with his job, with Eric Abidal also sacked from his role as Sporting Director. The way forward isn’t clear for the Catalan club. Most agree, despite the looming appointment of Ronald Koeman as their new manager, that nothing will change until there is a change of regime in next year’s presidential election.

This has provided Real Madrid with some shade for their own problems. Los Blancos might have finished the 2019/20 season as La Liga winners, putting together an extremely strong run of form after lockdown to beat Barcelona to the Spanish top flight title.

Zinedine Zidane still has issues to solve before the start of the 2020/21 campaign, though. Real Madrid’s wage bill is hindering them as a club. High paid players like Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez have been deemed surplus to requirements at the Santiago Bernabeu and yet the capital club will struggle to move them on this summer, leaving an incredible amount of money tied up in their bumper contracts.

Real Madrid’s current squad is an ageing one. Zidane managed to get that little bit more out of the likes of Toni Kroos, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos last season, with Karim Benzema arguably the most important player at the Santiago Bernabeu. A generational transition is coming.

Zidane is already preparing for that, with Martin Odegaard recalled to his parent club for next season after an extremely impressive campaign on loan at Real Sociedad. The Norwegian is seen as the natural heir to Modric, with the Croatian midfielder’s Real Madrid contract set to expire next summer.

There’s a sense that Real Madrid still haven’t moved on from the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and a sense that Zidane has only succeeded in patching up his team to keep them moving forward in the short to medium term. A greater transition will have to happen at some point in the near future and just because Barcelona are in a bigger mess doesn’t mean Real Madrid don’t have their own problems.

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