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.
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