Getafe's loan rangers shore up defence and show up a new breed of borrowers
FourFourTwo's award-winning FREE app Stats Zone now covers seven top European competitions including La Liga. Paul Wilkes Ã¢ÂÂ editor of laligauk.com Ã¢ÂÂ analyses the impact of Getafe's borrowed boys...
Given Spain's economic problems, the huge amounts of debt on many la Liga clubs and the unbalanced nature of Spanish football's TV deals, it's unsurprising that loan signings are an increasingly important part of the transfer market.
In recent times, what constitutes a stereotypical loanee has changed. In the past, loanees had usually been promising youngsters given tastes of first-team footballers or experienced campaigners adding strength in depth Ã¢ÂÂ but now two other scenarios are increasingly common.
Firstly, wealthy clubs such as Manchester City have been stockpiling more high-fee, high-wage players than they could possibly give regular games to; in the past no club would have dreamed of loaning out a ÃÂ£25m player, like City did with Emmanuel Adebayor.
Then there's the final category: a player who can't settle in a country. Whether it's cultural differences or struggling to adapt to a specific club, the loan system offers them the chance to either return home or move somewhere more suitable.
The loan market is essential for clubs with limited resources Ã¢ÂÂ like Getafe, whose manager Luis Garcia uses it well. Last year he brought in former players Pedro LeÃÂ³n and Alexis, who were struggling for game time at bigger clubs Real Madrid and Sevilla. Also incoming was talented youngster Paco AlcÃÂ¡cer; having played just three times for Valencia, he has featured 18 times to date for Getafe, scoring three goals.
However, in January Garcia made arguably his best loan acquisitions: defenders Federico FernÃÂ¡ndez and Sergio Escudero. At the ages of 24 and 23 respectively, they are perfect representations of the last example of modern-day loan signings.
FernÃÂ¡ndez (left) and Escudero: Thriving on borrowed time
Argentine centre-back FernÃÂ¡ndez signed for Napoli from Estudiantes in December 2010, but work permit problems prevented him from moving to Italy until the following summer Ã¢ÂÂ and despite Walter Mazzarri's side using a back three, FernÃÂ¡ndez has found his appearances limited.
His unquestioned ability is shown by his 11 caps, the most recent being in February's 3-2 win against Sweden. But if FernÃÂ¡ndez has struggled in Naples, he has excelled since moving to a Spanish-speaking country and playing regularly.
Tall, strong and good in the air, FernÃÂ¡ndez has averaged more blocked shots and clearances than any other Getafe player. During their run of five consecutive clean sheets, he was the only ever-present among the back four and goalkeeper, due to injuries and suspensions.
He coped admirably earlier this month against the movement of AtlÃÂ©tico Madrid's Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa, showing how comfortable he is in wider areas when strikers drag him over to the wings. And against Espanyol on Sunday, despite his 72nd-minute red card he attempted 13 clearances; the next most prolific was Juan Valera, who tried just four.
Sergio Escudero is another example of a foreign import whose face doesn't fit. The former Murcia left-back was on Schalke's Spanish shopping list in summer 2010, along with RaÃÂºl and JosÃÂ© Manuel Jurado.
His previous time in Spain was spent in the Segunda division with Murcia. When RaÃÂºl departed in summer 2012, Jurado was loaned to Spartak Moscow for the season and Escudero sidelined: he hasn't played a single minute of German football this campaign. With Schalke now on their third manager since Felix Magath, who had signed the Spanish trio, Escudero's January switch to Madrid made perfect sense.
A mobile full-back, Escudero reads the game superbly, timing his challenges and dribbling the ball up the left to offer support to his midfielders. He tops the list of average interceptions for his club, whilst no player in the whole of La Liga makes more tackles per game.
Against Real Betis, he won 9 out of 10 tackles Ã¢ÂÂ some performance, when you factor Betis scored eight in their next two games after that shut-out. His tackles against Athletic display how high he was pressing up the pitch, as two of his three successful tackles came close to the opposing area.
Neither of Getafe's January loanees is a particularly astute passer, but they certainly shore up a leaky defence. Before they arrived, Getafe had the league's fifth-worst defence, conceding 35 goals in 21 matches; since then they have conceded just 12 goals in 11 games where at least one of the two have been in the pitch, the eighth best defensive record within that period.
When you consider six of those 12 goals were against Barcelona (a match FernÃÂ¡ndez missed), it shows the considerable improvement they have made as individuals. As a collective the results are even better: in the five matches both players have started together in the back four, Getafe have let in only two goals. With Escudero currently out injured and FernÃÂ¡ndez about to serve a suspension for his red card against Espanyol, Garcia should have serious concerns over his defence for this weekend's game with MÃÂ¡laga.
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