Didn't you used to be…?: Five forgotten footballers of la Liga

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Fran Mérida, Atlético Madrid
Surely LLL can't be alone in completely forgetting about the existence of the Atlético Madrid midfielder formerly known as the "new Fabregas".

Apparently, the 21-year-old made 17 league appearances for the Rojiblancos after his move from Arsenal in the summer of 2009, but this blog cannot remember a single minute of any of them. And records show that LLL was present and correct in the Vicente Calderón for many of them.

Then again, LLL tends to have second-half blackouts during Atlético games, due to the brain shutting down for its own protection. That and the huge clouds created by the jazz cigarettes which are regular features in the stands.

Mérida is one product of La Masia that Barcelona have no great desire to get back. For the current campaign at his current club, he is stuck in a logjam behind six other central midfielders.

Sergio García, Espanyol
A Euro 2008 winner, no less, who disappeared from this particular dimension – first by moving to Betis, and then sticking with the unfortunate Andalusians in the wilderness of la Segunda. In summer 2010 his chubby little chops popped up at Espanyol after a €1.8m move to El Prat land.

The Barcelona-born forward managed 21 fairly forgettable performances and four goals before falling injured in March. It was only when LLL had a look at the club’s squad list to see how much trouble they’d be in if Osvaldo left that it remembered the ponytailed 'poacher'.

Tom De Mul, Sevilla
LLL certainly recalls the Belgian midfielder being signed in the summer of 2007, but after that it’s an enormous, alien-probing-sized blank. Investigation shows this is because De Mul managed just nine league appearances in two seasons before going on loan to Genk in 2008/2009 before missing the entire past season through injury.

Tom is back in Seville and finds himself behind Jesús Navas and Manu Del Moral in the right midfield queue, so a freebie return to Belgium looks on the cards.

Arouna Koné, Sevilla
The Ivory Coast striker came from PSV Eindhoven in 2007 and was Sevilla’s record transfer at €12m, a figure since beaten by Alvaro Negredo. But unlike Sevilla’s stroppy Spanish striker, Koné has achieved zip all at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Mind you, this is not entirely the Ivorian’s fault, due to two serious knee injuries in four years. Koné missed much of the 2008/09 campaign and went on loan to Hannover the following year before returning to Sevilla, where another knee injury kept the forward out of action until the beginning of 2011. So far, Sevilla’s €12m outlay has produced just one league goal for the club.

Alexander Hleb, Barcelona
Just think. The man from Minsk got to flounce about on holiday this summer telling all and sundry, quite accurately, that he is a Barcelona player. Fans of the club had clean forgotten this and it wouldn’t be at all a surprise if Pep Guardiola himself responded to a reminder on the first day of pre-season training with “Hleb? At the front gates? Is he? Really? Why? How?”

Now 30, the midfielder came from Arsenal in 2008, didn’t do a great deal, went to Stuttgart, then to Birmingham. Technically, should the Belarus-born footballer so desire, he could sit around by the Med getting paid by Barcelona for doing diddly-squat until next June.