Although the big three of Barcelona, Real and Atletico Madrid are extremely likely to dominate the title race once again, there is optimism that La Liga will be more competitive than in previous years thanks to a realignment of television revenues.
The financial gap between the top teams and the rest is less pronounced than in the past, evidenced by the fact that middle-ranking clubs like Real Betis and Villarreal have been able to spend considerable sums in the transfer market this summer.
Another major focus is the continued development of the league’s brand overseas, and we can expect more afternoon kickoffs for the big clubs in a bid to attract the massive Asian market.
La Liga’s growing global profile is reflected in the increase of foreign investment into clubs, with Espanyol and Granada both now under the control of Chinese ownership and – as with English football – this route is likely to be increasingly well trodden in the near future.
On the pitch, La Liga’s claim to be the best league in the world is backed up by the success of Spanish teams in European competitions, and it would be a major shock if Barca and the two Madrid teams don’t feature in the latter stages of the Champions League once again.
Overall, the state of the league is perhaps healthier than it has been since the Spanish economy crashed eight years ago, but the soaring commercial success of the English Premier League means nothing can be taken for granted.
Here’s our comprehensive team-by-team guide.
Manager: Mauricio Pellegrino
Last season: 1st, Segunda Division
Key ins: Deyverson (Levante, loan), Ibai Gomez (Athletic Bilbao, free), Edgar Mendez (Granada, free), Ruben Sobrino (Manchester City, loan), Christian Santos (NEC Nijmegen, free)
Key outs: Javier Carpio (Cadiz, free), Sergio Pelegrin (Elche, free), Juli (Cordoba, free), Sergio Mora (Murcia, free)
Star man: Toquero
One to watch: Kiko Femenia
Prospects: Returning to the top flight after a decade absence, Alaves won the Segunda Division with a veteran squad which has been largely dismantled. The many new signings must settle quickly.
Manager: Ernesto Valverde
Last season: 5th
Key ins: None
Key outs: Carlos Gurpegi (retired), Unai Lopez (Leganes, loan), Ibai Gomez, Alaves, free)
Star man: Aritz Aduriz
One to watch: Inaki Williams
Prospects: Experienced boss Valverde has a settled squad and will expect his team to mount a serious top-four challenge, although they are perhaps over-reliant on veteran striker Aritz Aduriz and expecting the 35-yea-old to emulate his 20 league goals last season is a little ambitious. Will therefore need the likes of Williams and Iker Munian to show greater consistency.
Manager: Diego Simeone
Last season: 3rd
Key ins: Kevin Gameiro (Sevilla, €32m), Nico Gaitan (Benfica, €25m), Sime Vrsaljko (Sassuolo,€16m), Diogo Jota (Pacos de Ferreira, €7m)
Key outs: Borja Baston (Swansea, €18m), Luciano Vietto (Sevilla, loan), Matias Kranevitter (Sevilla, loan), Jesus Gamez (Newcastle, free)
Star man: Antoine Griezmann
One to watch: Thomas Partey
Prospects: If Kevin Gameiro can maintain the form he showed with Sevilla last season and help Griezmann out on the goal front, this could become Diego Simeone’s strongest Atletico squad to date. Serious title contenders again.
Manager: Luis Enrique
Last season: 1st
Key ins: Samuel Umtiti (Lyon, €25m), Lucas Digne (Paris St Germain, €16m), Andre Gomes (Valencia €35m), Denis Suarez (Villarreal, €3.5m)
Key outs: Dani Alves (Juventus, free), Sandro (Malaga, free), Marc Bartra (Borussia Dortmund, €8m), Thomas Vermaelen (Roma, loan), Adriano (Besiktas, €500,000)
Star man: Lionel Messi
One to watch: Samuel Umtiti
Prospects: With a revamped squad designed to avoid the late-season fatigue which threatened to derail last season’s double-winning campaign, Barca can challenge for the lot – if MSN stay fit.
Manager: Eduardo Berizzo
Last season: 6th
Key ins: Pione Sisto (Midtylland, €5m), Jose Naranjo (Gimnastic Tarragona, €1m), Facundo Roncaglia
Key outs: Nolito (Manchester City, €15m)
Star man: Fabian Orellana
One to watch: Sisto
Prospects: The departure of key forward Nolito will hurt, but Celta have made great progress in the last couple of years and should manage a comfortable midtable finish at least. The added burden of European football could also put pressure on a squad that has plenty of quality, but nowhere near as much depth as other sides.
DEPORTIVO LA CORUNA
Manager: Gaizka Garitano
Last season: 15th
Key ins: Florin Andone (Cordoba, €4m), Marlos Moreno (Manchester City, loan), Carles Gil (Aston Villa, loan), Raul Albentosa (Derby County, free), Emre Colak (Galatasaray, free)
Key outs: Manuel Pablo (retired), Fabricio (Besiktas, free) Cani (Real Zaragoza, free)
Star man: Lucas Perez
One to watch: Marlos Moreno
Prospects: All change at the Riazor, with a new manager and practically a new team. Hot-shot Perez remains a Depor player for now while former Eibar boss Garitano has the ability to maximise the resources at his disposal and they could do well.
Manager: Jose Luis Mendilibar
Last season: 14th
Key ins: Pedro Leon (Getafe, €2m), Bebe (Rayo Vallecano, free), Yoel (Valencia, loan)
Key outs: Borja Baston (Atletico Madrid, loan return), Saul Berjon (PUMAS, free), Keko (Malaga, €4m)
Star man: Pedro Leon
One to watch: Takashi Inui
Prospects: The tiny Basque club enter their third top-flight season needing to replace last season’s strike force, with Baston responsible for 18 league goals. Much of their success last term came due to a brilliant start, they need to produce the same otherwise expect them to be among the leading relegation candidates.
Manager: Quique Sanchez Flores
Last season: 13th
Key ins: Leo Baptistao (Atletico Madrid, €3.5m), Roberto (Olympiacos, €3m), Martin Demichelis
(Manchester City, free), Jose Antonio Reyes (Sevilla, free), Javi Fuego (Valencia, €3m)
Key outs: Marco Asensio (Real Madrid, loan return), Burgui, (Real Madrid, loan return), Jose Canas (PAOK, free), Joan Jordan (Real Valladolid, free)
Star man: Felipe Caicedo
One to watch: Leo Baptistao
Prospects: An exciting era dawns at the Cornella-El Prat, where Chinese ownership has allowed a summer spending spree to spark high expectations of a top-half finish.
Manager: Paco Jemez
Last season: 16th
Key ins: Jeremie Boga (loan, Chelsea), Jon Toral (loan, Arsenal), Gabriel Silva (loan, Udinese), Guillermo Ochoa (loan, Malaga), Tito (free, Rayo Vallecano)
Key outs: Isaac Success (Watford, €14m), Ruben Rochina (Rubin Kazan, €10m), Youssef El Arabi (Lekhwiya, free)
Star man: Fran Rico
One to watch: Jeremie Boga
Prospects: With attack-minded ex-Rayo boss Jemez in charge, the forthcoming campaign will be anything but dull – but much-changed Granada face another battle against the drop due to question marks over a defence which shipped 69 goals last term.
Manager: Quique Setien
Last season: 11th
Key ins: Kevin-Prince Boateng (AC Milan, free), Mateo Garcia (€400,000, Instituto)
Key outs: Juan Carlos Valeron (retired), Wakaso Mubarak (Panathinaikos, free)
Star man: Kevin-Prince Boateng
One to watch: Jonathan Viera
Prospects: After a remarkably-successful conclusion to last season, hopes are high the Canary Islanders will enjoy another campaign in mid-table. Viera is a class act and if Boateng – who has a point to prove after two largely wasted seasons – can click, they could be one of the most aesthetically-pleasing sides to watch.
Manager: Asier Garitano
Last season: 2nd, Segunda Division
Key ins: Gabriel Pires (Juventus, €1m), Adrian Marin (Villarreal, loan), Unai Lopez (Athletic Bilbao, loan)
Key outs: None
Star man: Alexander Szymanowski
One to watch: Gabriel Pires
Prospects: Anything but relegation would be a huge success for the top-flight newcomers, who are
desperately lacking quality as they approach their first season in Spain’s top tier after 88 years as a club. Their 8,000-seater Butarque Stadium will be a novel addition to La Liga but will also be crucial if they are to survive the drop as they must ensure they remain strong at home.
Manager: Juande Ramos
Last season: 8th
Key ins: Keko (Eibar, €4m), Bakary Kone (Lyon, €1m), Jony (Sportin Gijon, free), Diego Llorente (Real
Madrid, loan), Sandro (Barcelona, free)
Key outs: Raul Albentosa (Derby, loan return), Duje Cop (Sporting Gijon, free), Ricardo Horta (Sporting Braga, loan), Roque Santa Cruz (Olimpia, free)
Star man: Ignacio Camacho
One to watch: Pablo Fornals
Prospects: Experienced new manager Ramos has an intriguing new set of players at his disposal, with plenty of youthful attacking talent to build upon the good work of predecessor Javi Gracia. If all the pieces click, they could make a real push for Euro.
Manager: Enrique Martin
Last season: 6th, Segunda Division
Key ins: Oriol Riera (Deportivo, loan), Jaime Romero (Udinese, free), Fran Merida (Huesca, free), Goran
Causic (Eskisehirspor, free)
Key outs: Mikel Merino (Borussia Dortmund, €4m), Luis Martins (Granada, loan return)
Star man: Roberto Torres
One to watch: Kenan Kodro
Prospects: Sneaked into the top flight through the play-offs despite finishing sixth and losing 12 games during the regular season, and face a big battle to prolong their stay beyond one season. Defeat to Numancia, Cadiz, Eibar and Rayo in preseason don’t exactly bode well for the new campaign.
Manager: Gustavo Poyet
Last season: 10th
Key ins: Tonny Sanabria (Roma, €7.5m), Aissa Mandi (Reims, €4m), Felipe Gutierrez (Twente, €3m), Jonas
(Montpellier, €2.5m), Riza Durmisi (Brondby, €2m)
Key outs: Alfred N’Diaye (Villarreal, €8m), Jorge
Molina (Getafe, free), Heiko Westermann (Ajax, free)
Star man: Ruben Castro
One to watch: Nahuel
Prospects: After returning to the top-flight with a solid mid-table finish in May, the Sevilla-based team have made some strong additions over the summer and should be aiming for more of the same as new coach Poyet takes his first coaching job in Spain.
Manager: Zinedine Zidane
Last season: 2nd
Key ins: Alvaro Morata (Juventus, €32m)
Key outs: Jese Rodriguez (Paris Saint-Germain, €25m)
Star man: Cristiano Ronaldo
One to watch: Marco Asensio
Prospects: Either Florentino Perez is growing patient is his old age or Madrid have experienced a frustrating summer with little to no activity from a club who regularly spend in excess of €100m. They will, of course, be competiting for every honour and while Morata does provide another option in attack, their lack of cover in defence could prove an Achilles heel come the end of the season.
Manager: Eusebio Sacristan
Last season: 9th
Key ins: Willian Jose (Deportivo Maldonado, undisclosed), Juanmi (Southampton, €2.5m), Geronimo Rulli (Manchester City, loan)
Key outs: Andre Ayew (West Ham, £20.5m), Alberto Paloschi (Atalanta, £6m), Eder (Lille £3.4m, Bafetimbi Gomis (Marseille, undisc)
Star man: Imanol Agirretxe
One to watch: Mikel Oyarzabal
Prospects: Hopes are high the San Sebastian club will become a force to be reckoned with in Eusebio’s first full season. Carlos Vela is temperamental and inconsistent but if they can keep him happy, they have the firepower to challenge for Europe.
Manager: Jorge Sampaoli
Last season: 7th
Key ins: Ganso (Sao Paulo, €10m), Joaquin Correa (Sampdoria, €10m), Wissam Ben Yedder (Toulouse,€9m), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Hannover, €6.5m), Matias Kranevitter (Atletico Madrid, loan)
Key outs: Kevin Gameiro (Sevilla, €32m), Grzegorz Krychowiak (PSG, €30m), Ever Banega (Inter, undisclosed), Coke (Schalke, €3m)
Star man: Vitolo
One to watch: Juan Munoz
Prospects: A fascinating season in store at the Andalusians, who return to the Champions League with a highly-rated new coach and a vastly changed squad. They could be magnificent or flop spectacularly.
Last season: 17th
Key ins: Duje Cop (Cagliari, free), Jean-Sylvain Babin (Granada, free), Moi Gomez (undisclosed, Villarreal), Burgi (Real Madrid, loan), Fernando Amorebieta (Fulham, free)
Key outs: Jony (Malaga, free), Luis Hernandez (Leicester, free), Tonny Sanabria (Roma, loan return),
Bernardo Espinosa (Middlesbrough, free)
Star man: Carlos Castro
One to watch: Burgui
Prospects: Avoiding relegation was a big achievement last season, and realistically that can be the only ambition for Sporting again after a summer which saw several key players depart.
Manager: Pako Ayestaran
Last season: 12th
Key ins: Nani (Fenerbahce, €8.5m), Martin Montoya (Barcelona, free), Alvaro Medran (Real Madrid, free)
Key outs: Andre Gomes (Barcelona, €35m), Sofiane Feghouli (West Ham, free), Alvardo Negredo (Middlesbrough, loan), Danilo (Sporting Braga, loan return), Antonio Barragan (Middlesbrough, €3m)
Star man: Paco Alcacer
One to watch: Zakaria Bakkali
Prospects: These are turbulent times for Los Che, with the rumoured sale of striker Paco Alcacer to Barcelona and centre-back Shkodran Mustafi to Arsenal the latest in a long line of worrying developments. Could get worse before it gets better.
Manager: Fran Escriba
Last season: 4th
Key ins: Denis Cheryshev (Real Madrid, €10m), Alfred N’Diaye (Real Betis, €8m), Alexandre Pato
(Corinthians, undisclosed), Roberto Soriano (Sampdoria, €15m), Nicola Sansone (Sassuolo, €13m)
Key outs: Eric Bailly (Manchester United, €35m), Samu Garcia (Rubin Kazan, €5m), Denis Suarez
(Barcelona, €3.5m), Tomas Pina (Bruges, €3m)
Star man: Cedric Bakambu
One to watch: Alexandre Pato
Prospects: A traumatic summer saw manager Marcelino fired and key striker Roberto Soldado suffer a long-term injury on the dawn of the season. Will struggle to maintain recent standards.