4 La Liga newbies who can take their teams to the next level this season
Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (Atletico Madrid)
- Date of birth: September 4, 1993
- Last club: Monaco (103 apps, 20 goals)
- All clubs: Monaco
In terms of Diego Simeone’s offensive incomings over the past few months, Ferreira Carrasco was perhaps the one with the biggest accompanying question mark. Jackson Martinez has proven his worth for Porto in both the Portuguese top flight and the Champions League, while Luciano Vietto had a fantastic first season in La Liga and arrived with the coach’s personal recommendation. The Belgian inbound from Monaco, however, came with a good reputation in France, immaculately tamed hair and a double-barrelled surname. As Los Colchoneros look to reinvent themselves and try to evolve from the Simeone stereotype of two banks of four and goals from dead-ball situations, Carrasco is the perfect man to lead the revolution. Blessed with fantastic dribbling ability and the elegance to beat a defender without even touching the ball, the Belgium international brings something refreshing to the table.
In terms of attitude, there will be no divide between the former Monaco forward and his new team-mates, as his work rate is unquestionable. The variance lies in how he plays the game, and the flair he can add into the mix. Instead of bringing Raul Garcia into the fray in the second half and going direct, Simeone can instead point to his flashy new catalyst and perhaps admit to himself that he won’t know exactly how Carrasco could change the game. While Garcia’s game is predictable and well known to fellow La Liga personnel, a new maverick might not give tiring defences such an easy time. Over the course of a long campaign, the Belgian could help secure some valuable results.
Yevhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla)
- Date of birth: September 29, 1989
- Last club: Dnipro (210 apps, 45 goals)
- All clubs: Dnipro
Konoplyanka must have had a very busy summer of travel, if the transfer stories were to be believed. After being linked to a whole host of big European clubs, the Ukraine international chose to settle at what has become the home of shrewd transfer business, Sevilla. After losing last season’s top goalscorer Carlos Bacca to Milan, there is a void to be filled at Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan.
That's not to say that Konoplyanka is going to be a direct replacement for the Colombia international. As showcased during his Europa League run with Dnipro, which resulted in a final clash between his former and current employers, the 25-year-old can both create and score goals from the left side.
While his former club flew his native flag in continental competition amid ongoing conflict, Unai Emery bids to wage a different kind of war this season. With Kevin Gameiro, Ciro Immobile and Fernando Llorente needing frequent service to reach Bacca’s tally of 23 goals, the consistent importance and productivity of Sevilla’s supporting cast has reached new heights.
Capable of dribbling at pace and dragging his team 30 yards upfield under his own steam, Konoplyanka has the potential to be a game changer. Whether it be to carry out a brisk counter attack, or to weave his way infield to commit players who are defending more rigidly, the Ukrainian wideman appears to have the full skill set required to be a real menace.