7 La Liga players who could be on the move this January
Brahim Diaz, Real Madrid
Brahim Diaz was not a Zinedine Zidane signing: the young Spanish winger was purchased in the last winter market from Manchester City when Santiago Solari was in charge of Real Madrid. When Zidane took over late last season, he was impressed with Brahim’s play, but none of that public fawning actually translated into meaningful playing time. Brahim is a fringe rotational player, and has made just four appearances (all off the bench), this season.
With James Rodriguez and Lucas Vazquez back from injury - and Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale returning soon - it’s hard to fathom any change in Brahim’s playing time. Though the player wants to stay and fight for his place, he’ll eventually just need to get minutes - and there are plenty of clubs who could use his talent on a loan spell.
Potential price: Loan deal.
Possible suitors: Getafe.
Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid
Diego Costa is one of the least in-form strikers in Spain. He has not scored since September and has a total of seven league goals over the past two-and-a-half seasons. He is currently dealing with injury with no timeline for his return.
Now might be the time for Atletico to cash in before Costa walks for free next year, when his contract expires. But his departure would likely hinge on Atletico’s ability to land Edinson Cavani or Paco Alcacer this winter. If they strike out on signing another goalscorer, they may have to settle for Costa’s sluggish form and old age until next season.
Potential price: €20 million
Sergio Leon, Levante
Three seasons ago, Spanish striker Sergio Leon scored 10 goals in 33 appearances for Osasuna, and was a rare bright spot for the Basque team in a season where they were one of La Liga’s punch bags before getting relegated. Leon was too good to go back to Segunda where he initially made his name with Elche - so he moved to Real Betis.
At Betis, Leon found it hard to find playing time and was ultimately shipped to Levante after two underwhelming seasons. This season under manager Paco Lopez, Leon is behind three players - Roger Marti, Jose Luis Morales, Borja Mayoral - in the pecking order and is struggling to find consistent minutes. He is a prime target for many teams lacking a striker.
Potential price: €3 million
Andriy Lunin, Real Madrid
Real Madrid’s promising young goalkeeper, Andriy Lunin, is in the midst of his second consecutive disastrous loan spell. Last season, the club sent Lunin to Leganes, where the Ukrainian goalkeeper found himself scrapping for minutes behind Ivan Cuellar. Perhaps the club would’ve learned this time around to ensure the next loan spell would be to a club that could guarantee Lunin more time between the sticks?
Nope. Lunin is behind starting goalkeeper Jordi Masip at Real Valladolid, where he has made zero league appearances this season. Real Madrid are now reportedly negotiating with Valladolid to terminate Lunin’s loan deal early so that they can quickly find him a new home that can give him minutes.
Potential price: Loan deal
Possible suitors: Real Oviedo, Almeria
Cristian Tello, Real Betis
Former Barcelona winger Cristiano Tello has found it hard to get consistent minutes at Real Betis this season behind Sergio Canales, Nabil Fekir, and Joaquin.
Espanyol - getting battered in La Liga and desperately fighting relegation - are in the midst of rejuvenating their squad to make a dramatic comeback in the second half of the season. Espanyol have already splashed big money to sign Raul de Tomas from Benfica, and are now looking at Tello as a prime candidate to give a jolt to their attacking line.
Potential price: €7 million
Possible suitors: Espanyol
Arturo Vidal, Barcelona
Just before the new year, news broke that Arturo Vidal was suing Barcelona for unpaid bonuses of €2.4 million. The move from Vidal - who had his lawyers file a complaint for unpaid dues in early December - surprised Barcelona’s board. They claimed publicly that the request had come out of nowhere, without any prior direct communication from the Chilean international.
Barcelona believe it is a strategic ploy from Vidal to push for a move away from the Camp Nou in January, in pursuit of more playing time. If the club and player don’t find an amicable solution, and Barcelona do end up losing Vidal this winter, they’ll be dealt with a blow to their midfield depth chart. Vidal has been one of the best players off the bench in the entire league. The club has already sent Carles Aleña to Real Betis on loan, Ivan Rakitic is past his peak and is in poor form and Arthur Melo will be out until the end of January with a groin injury. If Barcelona lose Vidal, they will be spread thin in midfield.
Potential price: €15 million
Mikel Oyarzabal, Real Sociedad
Any deal involving Real Sociedad selling Mikel Oyarzabal this winter is unlikely, and if said deal arises, it may be a scenario where a big club signs him now but doesn’t acquire him until the summer.
Oyarzabal has a long contract which runs until 2024, and he won’t be cheap. But he also will not stay at La Real for much longer given how talented he is - and there are teams waiting in line for his purchase. Bayern Munich, in particular, could use a winger - especially if they can’t land Leroy Sane - and Pep Guardiola is reportedly an admirer of Oyarzabal’s play.
Potential price: €70 million
Possible suitors: Bayern Munich, Manchester City
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