La Liga’s Transfer Tales: Athletic to Espanyol

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Part one of Tim Stannard's analysis of the summer transfer activity in Spain's top flight...

Athletic Bilbao
Bof! A horribly disruptive summer for the Basque side due to want-away players, hovering clubs, as well as their own dithering. Javi Martínez bought out his own contract to go to Bayern Munich. His position can be sort of covered. The one player they really couldn’t afford to lose in football terms is Fernando Llorente, who is set to stay one more year in Bilbao but then go for free out of contract. However, transfer activity is not over yet for Athletic, who have a couple of weeks to find a replacement for Martínez because of a clause involving ‘hostile’ departures from clubs.
Best Signing: As usual, Athletic had to pay over the odds - €2.5m in this case - but 31-year-old forward Aritz Aduriz returning to his home club gives the team at least some kind of alternative to the willing but limited Gaizka Toquero. 

Atlético Madrid
It was a good window on paper for the Rojiblancos, with the club hanging on to Falcao, but perhaps not so well received in the accounting department. That’s what Director General, Miguel Ángel Gil, reckons with the claim that €33m net was needed to be raised this summer to pay the bills. Instead, it’s just €17m after the flogging of Alvaro Domínguez and Eduardo Salvio. That’s why only €1m was spent in purchases with defender, Cata Díaz, joining from Getafe and why the club have not been able to afford to re-recruit the massively successful Diego Ribas.
Best signing: Free transfer Cristian Rodríguez will give a little bit of balance to the attack on the left-wing.

Three players were brought up from the youth team for Barça this summer, but €32m was also splashed on Jordi Alba and Alex Song. Although both handy editions, the Catalan club failed to plug a rather leaky hole at the back with a new central defender. However, finding the ideal player at the right price is clearly not easy so perhaps it was right not to have another Dmytro Chygrynskiy moment.
Best signing: Jordi Alba had already shown at Euro 2012 that he can build fine relationship with Andrés Iniesta. Nice and small, as well, so he'll fit in well.

One of many clubs in la Primera where it was more to do with who stayed than who left or came in. The wonderfully exciting midfielder, Beñat Etxeberría, is still in Seville despite interest from the Bundesliga, to help continue make Betis one of the most watchable teams in la Liga on their day.
Best signing: Arsenal’s on loan Costa Rican youngster Joel Campbell has already debuted. Looks quite raw but flashes of something good about to happen, Utah Saints-style.

Celta Vigo
Despite having spent five years in la Segunda, Celta have been fairly active in the transfer market with nearly four million blown to strengthen the squad to ensure another year in la Primera. Arsenal’s Chu-Young Park arrived late in the day on loan from Arsenal to help out in attack whilst former Sevilla keeper, Javi Varas, was brought in early doors to give experience in goal.
Best signing: An assist in Celta’s win against Osasuna over the weekend suggests there’s enough sauce in Argentinean Augusto Fernández's boots to justify the €1.5m spent on the winger.

It’s a Portugal party in la Coruña at the moment - LLL senses a Jorge Mendes hand somewhere - with a whole bunch arrive on loan from Sporting, Benfica and Braga to boost Daring Depor’s chances of staying up. There’s also an old school signing too, with Carlos Marchena joining from free after a fun spell at Villarreal.
Best signing: Striker Nelson Oliveira already has one goal to his name since joining Depor on loan from Benfica - and a beauty at that.

€5.3m in sales sums up a tough story for Espanyol at the moment - the drip, drip, drip departure of talent to pay the bills and the arrival of hit-and-hopes from around the world to replace them. Javi Marquez went to Mallorca and Alvaró Vásquez to Getafe, hardly clubs that can consider themselves prettier and perkier than the Pericos. A horrible year awaits for Mauricio Pochettino and co, which is a great shame.
Best signing: He's probably eating up the team’s entire wage budget, but Simao may still have enough juice in the tank to help out.

Part Two: Getafe to Rayo Vallecano
Part Three: Real Madrid to Zaragoza