Spanish La Liga €1.2 billion Spending

La Liga1

Some of the world’s top clubs, huge player price tags, and some of the best and most expensive soccer talents ever seen – all have been part of top-flight Spanish soccer La Liga for many years now.  Still, the Spanish teams somehow didn’t manage to capitalize on all that fame and fortune in the European cups last year, will this summer’s crazy spending help bring European silverware back to Spain?

Written By: Ziv Chen

La Liga soccer action just kicked off, with FC Barcelona being stunned by a 1 – 0 defeat at Atletico Bilbao, which is ironic, given Barca’s enormous summer spending which we will get to in a minute.  And the quest for both Spanish and international titles is on.

After years of Spanish dominance, last year was the first in six years where neither the Europa League, nor the Champions League Cup (both won last year by English-Premier Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC respectively) came to Spain.

This isn’t deterring, or perhaps encouraging yet-another crazy shopping spree for talents and players.  And as far as this summer goes, La Liga is still the undisputed European leader when it comes to spending money on soccer players.

The biggest budgets belonged to the usual suspects: Barcelona FC, and the two Madrid rivals: Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid (the latter played the MLS All-Star team in Orlando in July).  Together, the top three spent €800 million combined, which was 25% more than last season’s budget of all other teams combined.

The players that had the world’s top price tags this summer: Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Edin Hazard (Real Madrid) and João Félix (Atletico) are the new stars of these clubs.  And also Luka Jovic and Rodrygo, both joined Real, are in the top eight of the world’s most expensive stickers in this transfer window.  Former Barcelona star Neymar Jr. is also looking for his way back to La Liga, but that’s for another story altogether.

Most of the soccer world’s attention is turned to the top three fighting for dominance, but it’s also important to mention that the rest of the La Liga clubs are also making some notable moves.

Valencia CF bought ex Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen and excellent Uruguayan striker Maxi Gomez.  Sevilla FC added eight players, costing evillia added eight players, each costing €10 million or more, including Dutch International striker Luuk de Jong.  Real Sociedad added two young attacking players, including Norway International Martin Ødegaard who is on loan from Real Madrid.  Real Betis got its hands on Frenchman Nabil Fekir (that a year back Liverpool FC was interested to pay €60 million for).  And Celta de Vigo welcoming back Denis Suarez and Santi Mina.

The English Premier League is still the league with the biggest money, with teams spending on players over €1.5 billion this year.

But the gap is narrowing.  So far the La Liga teams spent this year €1.2 billion, where up until two years ago the spending didn’t cross the €600 mark, now its double.  So back to the three top dogs, where most money (and expected action) will be this season:

FC Barcelona: Back to MSN?

In the Catalans, all eyes will be on Neymar, which according to rumours is close to re-joining the attacking MSN trio (Messi, Suarez, Neymar).  But Griezmann being a giant franchise in his own right, and in the opinion of many no less of a talent than Brazilian Neymar, the Barca attack will now need to have four letters in it, not three.  Many are curious to see how Barcelona Coach Ernesto Valverde manages to combine all these names together and make it work.

The most logical step, in case Neymar will sign, is to place the Brazilian on the left and Griezmann in Luis Suarez’s territory.  Lionel Messi, as usual will be placed on the right-hand side of the field, but also as usual will do whatever he sees fit, and will do it better than anyone else.  Last season the Catalan front was dependent on Messi at levels it wasn’t used to before.  The aim this year will be to divide more of the burden across other attacking parts of the team.

Barcelona FC didn’t upgrade only its attacking front.  Frankie de Jong, the midfielder that came from Ajax seems to have born to play in Barca.  Many say de Jong will be the club’s next Sergio Busquets.  But for now Busquets is still here, and possibly both of them in one line will be enough to defend against an opposing attacking four?

Real Madrid: New Attack

In Barcelona’s arch rival Real Madrid there are also bigger infrastructure questions that are bigger than the fit of one player or another to a certain team and position.  How big are these questions? Real’s coach Zinedine Zidane is drilling his team for an entirely-new gameplay, with three full backs.  One, which will be the newly-acquired Éder Militão from Porto.

Real’s defence still feels somewhat questionable, either due to support from midfield, or lack thereof.  Toni Kroos doesn’t seem to be on the up, and Luka Modrić is turning 34 next month.  None of the new names that were mentioned as potential reinforcements for midfield such as Paul Pogba or Christian Eriksen are yet to arrive.

But many came on the attacking side.  Luka Jović, and as mentioned Rodrygo and Edin Hazard.  The Belgian International Hazard is one of the best soccer players in the world, but isn’t always consistent.  It will be also be interesting to see the progress of Brazillain Vinícius Júnior and where on the field will this progress occuer, given Hazard can sit on his spot.

Atletico Madrid: The Substitute Challenge

Atletico is the biggest unknown amongst the three.  As this club always banked on a killer defence, and now all of a sudden all of its defenders changed.  On paper, Coach Diego Simeone brought for every leaver a great replacement, but all these need to adhere to the Argentinian’s big demands and also gel with each other.  This can take some time, but time is of short supply in this intensive struggle for the top.

 

A year after Cristiano Ronaldo boarded a plan to Turin to Join Juventus, it is clear that what was hurt most of all was the top-flight rivalry.  And despite an embarrassing start, Barcelona FC is still the favourite.  This, given the unknown results of the reshuffles in both Madrid clubs.

Messi of course, is still here, and is here to stay.  Hazard is a contender for the “world’s third best soccer player” title, and the same can be said about Griezmann that has been in the La Liga already, but moved between clubs.  João Félix, his replacement in Atletico, is the next big thing in world soccer.  These three are the face of an especially shining and hot summer in Spanish soccer, and we will see the glare and feel the sweat starting this week.