The new La Liga season begins this weekend, with defending champions Barcelona keen to turn the screw on their recent period of dominance and lift a fifth title in six seasons.
Both Madrid teams will want to prevent that with Real in-particular needing to prove themselves after a woeful 2018/19. Atletico, meanwhile, have had a busy summer and hope they can bridge the gap – they have finished runners-up in the last two years.
Here, PA picks out five players to watch in the Spanish top flight over the coming year.
Eden Hazard (Real Madrid)
After a long courtship, Real finally extracted playmaker Hazard from Chelsea in an £88.5million deal over the summer. The high-profile move was a fallback to the galactico recruitment policy of the past, a clear attempt to jolt the side after a frustrating 2018/19 campaign.
Hazard was the standout performer at Stamford Bridge for years, helping deliver plenty of success, and there will be plenty of pressure on him to hit the ground the running.
Frenkie De Jong (Barcelona)
Barca are not resting on their laurels after claiming an eighth La Liga crown in 11 years and have had a busy summer in the transfer market, bringing in De Jong, Antoine Griezmann and Junior Firpo.
They also continue to be linked with Neymar. Dutch midfielder De Jong, 22, shone in the Ajax side that reached last year’s Champions League semi-finals and there are high hopes for him at the Camp Nou.
Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid)
It has been a summer of change for Diego Simeone’s Atletico with a number of comings and goings. The signing of Felix from Benfica for £113million to replace Griezmann has gained the most attention.
The 19-year-old Portugal international, who scored 18 goals in 34 appearances for Benfica last season, comes highly rated and was linked with Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool before his move to the Wanda Metropolitano.
Kieran Trippier (Atletico Madrid)
Plenty of people in England – not least Gareth Southgate – will be keen to see how right-back Trippier gets on in La Liga following his £21.7million move from Tottenham.
The 28-year-old former Burnley player has slipped down the England pecking order since the 2018 World Cup after a below par 2018/19 campaign, and the move offers a fresh chance to make an impression on a new stage.
Nabil Fekir (Real Betis)
Betis have bolstered their squad after last season’s mid-table finish with a couple of eye-catching attacking signings in Borja Iglesias and Fekir. France international Fekir, 26, arrived from Lyon for £17.7million having long been linked with a move to one of Europe’s top leagues.
Liverpool, in particular, were long reported to be a potential suitor. The deal could prove a coup for the Andalusian club.
The 19-year-old was roped in for a hefty fee of €126 million to replace Antoine Griezmann. Felix has impressed with his performances in the pre-season friendlies, scoring a brace in Atletico’s 2-1 win over Juventus.
While age is definitely on his side, Mourinho believes the former Benfica forward must take up his responsibilities and not hide behind the fact that he’s still 19. The talent the Portugal international possesses warrants for responsibility according to his compatriot.
“He has a challenge due to the extent of his talent and because of the investment the club have made on him,” Mourinho told the Portuguese Football Federation’s (FPF) television channel, Canal 11.
“I believe that he can’t escape this responsibility. It doesn’t matter if he’s 18, 20 or 25.
“What matters is his talent and the responsibility he has.”
Atletico Madrid’s summer signing Joao Felix showed once again just why Diego Simeone paid €126 million for his signature after scoring one and assisting another during a 2-1 win over Juventus in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.
Felix appeared to have netted the opener when he volleyed in but his effort deflected in off Thomas Lemar. Sami Khedira equalised for the Italians before Felix struck the winner before the break.
See what his new team-mates had to say about him in the video above: