6 La Liga freebies that your club could sign
No summer transfer market is complete without either Real Madrid or Barcelona recruiting the world's most expensive assets. However, their wealth is a paradox to the rest of La Liga, with clubs heavily in debt and often poorly run. This means contracts are shorter and therefore the opportunity to pick up players for free increases. Ex-Arsenal winger Jose Antonio Reyes and midfielder Stephane Mbia were both available had sides acted faster. Here are six potential signings from Spain, where clubs only need to supply wages (and possibly a signing-on fee)...
Isaac Cuenca (24, Deportivo La Coruna)
In his formative years, Cuenca had five different clubs in a nine-year period, including two spells with Barcelona. His contract with the Catalans was rescinded last summer which enabled him to sign with Deportivo La Coruna on a one-year deal.
The Spanish winger once attracted the attention of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, but his constant knee injuries mean that he will now have to settle for a side lower down the league.
Cuenca can play on either wing and loves to dribble past opposing full-backs. His final delivery can be disheartening, and he's better equipped to supply quick passes rather than swinging crosses.
There are questions to be answered over his fitness and stamina: despite making 27 league appearances for Depor, he completed 90 minutes just five times. However, he clearly has talent in abundance and perhaps just needs the right environment to thrive.
Linked with: Besiktas; would suit Mark Hughes's Stoke.
Sergio Sanchez (29, Malaga)
The uncompromising centre-back started half of Malaga's league matches, as manager Javi Gracia struggled to find a regular partner for Brazilian veteran Weligton.
Sanchez missed two months of the campaign with a hamstring injury he sustained against Real Madrid, although he appears to have put the heart problems behind him that affected his time on the pitch in 2010.
The defender relies on his positional sense and his ability to intercept the ball rather than tackling. He's comfortable in possession, but his disciplinary record is far from exemplary.
Sanchez can also play at right-back, as he did for the entire 2008/09 season for Espanyol.
Linked with: Tottenham, West Ham, Burnley, Valencia and Lazio.
Papakouli Diop (29, Levante)
Levante are particularly good at unearthing journeymen with potential on a small budget, while simultaneously forming a solid team nucleus. Diop has been one of their more consistent performers in recent years and could be a valuable squad member for many suitors.
The Senegal international is a holding midfielder by trade and has spent the last seven years in Spain. He once infamously danced in front of a section of Atletico Madrid fans, after they taunted him racially. Diop likes to keep things simple, and sits in front of the back four. His concentration levels are high and he displays extreme power in the tackle.
Linked with: Swansea.
Damian Suarez (27, Elche)
The Uruguayan right-back played more minutes for Elche last season than any other player in the squad. His battle with Neymar left a lasting impression on the Brazilian, as Suarez niggled, kicked and did everything possible to throw his skilful adversary off form.
He's a solid tackler and good reader of the game, but his greatest competency is his crossing from his favoured right foot. He scored an absolute thunderbolt from distance against Rayo Vallecano (below), which was his only strike of the campaign but certainly worth the wait.
Linked with: None as yet; would suit West Ham or Norwich.
Helder Postiga (32, Deportivo La Coruna)
Tottenham fans will testify that Postiga has never been particularly prolific in front of goal. He works best as a foil who enables those around him to excel. His best goalscoring spell was at Porto, when Jose Mourinho gave the young striker an opportunity. Nowadays he prefers to provide flick-ons for midfield runners and link up with fellow attackers.
With over 70 caps for Portugal, Postiga is one of those strange players who does better internationally than at club level. He's sixth in the country's all-time scoring chart, while his average of a goal every 2.7 games is bettered only by Eusebio, Pauleta and Cristiano Ronaldo. Postiga would be a valuable commodity to a side that not only likes to create headed chances, but aims to provide a threat from set-pieces.
Linked with: None as yet; would suit Sunderland.
Alejandro Pozuelo (23, Rayo Vallecano)
Michael Laudrup labelled him "Swansea's answer to Coutinho" due to an excellent first touch and his creativity between the lines. "He has the same ability with the ball, same ability in finding space, being good one-on-one and having very good vision. We know he has two good feet because we don’t know if he is right or left footed," said the former Swansea coach.
Things might not have worked out for Pozuelo in his one year in the Premier League, but his time at the Swans shouldn't put off probable acquirers. The right coaching and a run of matches in the No.10 role might be enough to turn his frustrating capabilities into consistent artistry.
Linked with: Real Betis, but would suit Roberto Martinez's Everton.