The new season is here, and so is the hype surrounding fresh signings.
The transfer window is still active but most of the big transfers have already materialised and the teams are slowly shaping into the side they could look like in the 2019/20 season.
We take a look at five of the best signings from each of the top five leagues, judge them based on compatibility and lay expectations ahead of their debut season.
With the help of transfermarkt.com, age, transfer fee, and value, compatibility, and potential are some of the criteria used in the development of this list.
Here’s a look at La Liga…
Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona) – Midfielder
Transfer fee: €75 million
Value: €85 million
The gaping hole Xavi’s departure left in Barcelona’s midfield has finally been filled by one of the most technically gifted youngsters of this generation.
When the Catalan giants announced Frenkie de Jong’s signature in January, the Dutchman’s transfer value was just €60 million. After a series of masterclasses in the Champions League including a sensational performance against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, his value has risen to €85 million.
De Jong boasts the exact profile Barca have needed for some time now. His incredible press resistance, progressive style of play, ability to link with the forwards and the versatility to play anywhere in midfield enables him to clear the Barcelona DNA test.
The confident midfielder is the type of player Barca require in a high-voltage European away game against a high press.
Expectation: The importance of midfielders in De Jong’s ilk can’t be quantified by goals and assists. De Jong must work on establishing himself as an undisputed starter in midfield and lead the revolution of youngsters driven by grit and desire to win at all costs – a quality that seemed to have been lacking in the side last season.
Luka Jovic (Real Madrid) – Striker
Transfer fee: €60 million
Transfer value: €60 million
Real Madrid were at the heart of a €1 billion-plus transfer window in La Liga. While Eden Hazard has stolen all the glances, Luka Jovic could prove to be the player the Spanish side need and so desperately missed in the past couple of seasons.
One year ago, prolific goal-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo left Los Blancos for Juventus and took all the goals with him. Madrid suffered heavily in Spain and Europe as a result of losing such a vital player.
Zinedine Zidane now requires a young fox in the box to convert his team into a formidable machine that it once was and Jovic fits the bill perfectly.
The 21-year-old, who scored 17 goals and provided five assists for Eintracht Frankfurt last season, is gifted with athleticism, positional awareness, the classic striker’s instinct and could prove to be a bargain for his price.
Expectation: 25 goals in all competitions. Jovic was born to score and he needs to focus slowly on getting the numbers here. Eden Hazard will be the creative hub of the team and Luka Modric could be the workhorse. The Serbia international must show his new team what they missed in Ronaldo’s absence last season.
Nabil Fekir (Real Betis) – Playmaker
Transfer fee: €19.75 million
Transfer value: €60 million
Arguably the bargain of the transfer window, Real Betis achieved the remarkable capture of Lyon playmaker Nabil Fekir for as little as €19.75 million. Liverpool’s interest and attempt to sign him last summer testifies the quality he brings to any team.
The Frenchman should be aware of the fact that he will be stepping into the shoes of their best player from last season, with Giovani Lo Celso at Tottenham.
Lyon’s former captain’s arrival will help Betis’ midfield upgrade directly and indirectly.
Firstly, his dribbling, close control, versatility and playmaking abilities compensate for what the Seville club will miss with Lo Celso’s departure. The 26-year-old’s creativity will help ease the pressure on Sergio Canales and the pair could go on to forge a lethal combination in attacking midfield. Fekir could also cure Betis’ Achilles heel that is born out of inactivity in the final third.
Betis have been performing smart business in the transfer market for a while now and this could be the peak.
Expectation: Contribute to at least 20 goals. Betis are undergoing a transitional phase with Rubi picking up the mantle from Quique Setien. It would be harsh to expect too much from the Frenchman. His combination with Canales could prove to make or break their season, though.
Maxi Gomez (Valencia) – Striker
Transfer fee: €14.5 million
Transfer value: €40 million
With Santi Mina heading to Celta Vigo on a free transfer, Valencia found themselves needing a well-rounded striker to lead their attack.
Known as El Toro (The bull) due to his stocky build and tendency to use his physique to win duels, Maxi Gomez has often been touted as the heir to Luis Suarez in the Uruguayan national team.
The 22-year-old is a well-rounded striker who likes to drop and indulge in build-up play. His eye for key-passes and incredible passing ability makes him the hybrid striker that the current market demands.
The youngster could be the x-factor as Valencia look to build on their late revival from the 2018/19 season.
Expectation: 25+ goals plus assists. With a total of 18 goal involvements, Gomez was one of the few players who clicked for Celta Vigo last season. With quality, potential and La Liga experience on his side, the bar is set pretty high for Gomez as he looks to spearhead the Valencia attack.
Mario Hermoso (Atletico Madrid) – Central defender
Transfer fee: €25 million
Transfer value: €25 million
Replacing Diego Godin – a club legend in his own right – was bound to be a challenging task for Atletico Madrid and a side coached by Diego Simeone just can’t afford to compromise on the quality of defenders.
The Colchoneros deserve massive credit for achieving this at a bargain price of €25 million in a transfer market where Manchester United paid €80 million Harry Maguire.
Mario Hermoso has been the stand-out player for Espanyol in what was a rather bland season and his move to a top European club was inevitable.
The Real Madrid youth academy graduate boasts of a great passing range, accurate cross-field delivery and confident bursts of progressive play. His tackles are clean, perfectly timed and he rarely finds the need to foul any player.
Most importantly, the 24-year-old wears his heart on his sleeve while on the pitch, much like his predecessor Godin.
Expectation: 18+ clean-sheets, 30> goals conceded. Jan Oblak conceded 27 goals and kept 20 clean-sheets in La Liga last season. Despite what the numbers suggest, Simeone’s backline was far from living up to the bar they set for themselves. Hermoso needs to provide a strong supporting act and ensure Oblak finishes with numbers at least close to that of last season.
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