Sunday, April 24, 2011

La Liga's 10 best transfers of the 2010-11 season

The 2010-11 season in Spanish football witnessed less transfer movement than normal, with teams opting to be more careful with their cash, but some big-name, high-priced risks were undertaken, and the gamble has paid off for the league's leading clubs.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia were among the most active in acquiring fresh talent, and all three clubs are represented on our list below, which showcases the shrewdest signings of the campaign.

We judged the 10 best transfers for 2010-11 based on:
  • The player's overall contribution (this being the most important factor)
  • How the player fitted into his new line-up
  • How quickly the player adapted to his new surroundings, and vice-versa
  • The transfer fee paid, if any, and any other financial details known. (Transfer fees unconfirmed by either club or otherwise unknown are given as approximations and are marked in italics.)
Countdown of the ten best pieces of business from the 2010-11 Primera Division season.

10) Ivan RAKITIC

Appearances: 14
Goals Scored: 4

Assists: 3
Sevilla from Schalke - £1.3m

While Sevilla’s summer signings have failed to impress, January acquisition Rakitic has been a breath of fresh air since his arrival from Schalke. 

The stylish Croatian midfielder signed for a bargain price and settled in quickly at the Sanchez Pizjuan. He has been an important part of the Andalucian club’s revival in the second half of the campaign, scoring four goals – including the winner at Valencia recently – in 14 appearances. The best thing of all for Sevilla is the fact that he’s still only 23.

9) Felipe CAICEDO

Appearances: 24
Goals Conceded: 12

Clean Sheets: 2
Levante from Manchester City - Loan

Still a Manchester City player, Caicedo has spent the last three seasons on loan on the Iberian Peninsula. But following frustrating spells at both Sporting Lisbon and Malaga, the Ecuador forward has blossomed at Levante. 

His goals have helped the Valencia-based club punch above their weight and he has been an integral part of the side’s rise to the top half of the table, which includes a record run of results inferior only to those of Barcelona and Real Madrid since the halfway stage of the championship.

8) Pablo OSVALDO

Appearances: 18Goals Scored: 10

Assists: 0
Espanyol from Bologna - £4.4m

Osvaldo joined Espanyol on loan from Serie A side Bologna last season, before completing a permanent move to Cornella in the summer. 

The Argentina-born striker has been a revelation since then, scoring 10 times in 18 games to boost the Catalans’ hopes of a place in Europe next season. Back in the side following a two-month injury layoff – during which time he was sorely missed – Osvaldo bagged a superb brace in the 2-2 draw at home to Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

7) Tino COSTA

Appearances: 29Goals Scored: 6

Assists: 1
Valencia from Montpellier - £5.7m

Eyebrows were raised in Spain when Valencia paid Montpellier £5.7m for Tino Costa in the summer, but the Argentinian midfielder has proved a fine acquisition. 

Unai Emery’s side had been missing a dynamic midfielder and Costa has added a new dimension to the club’s play this term, while also chipping in with some stunning goals. These include excellent strikes against Bursaspor and Rangers in the Champions League, a 35-yard free kick in the win over Real Sociedad and a brilliant volley versus Getafe.

6) Roberto SOLDADO

Appearance: 38Goals Scored: 20

Assists: 3
Valencia from Getafe - £8.8m

Signed as a replacement for David Villa in the summer, along with team-mate Aritz Aduriz, Roberto Soldado has helped Valencia fans forget their former idol with a number of fine performances and plenty of goals. 

The former Getafe and Real Madrid forward netted six times as Valencia progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League and has scored 13 in La Liga, including seven in the last three games as Unai Emery’s side march on towards a second consecutive third-place finish.

5) Angel DI MARIA

Appearances: 47Goals Scored: 9

Assists: 18
Real Madrid from Benfica - £21.9m

Real Madrid’s most expensive signing in a summer of significant outlay, Angel di Maria cost the capital club £21.9m from Benfica. 

But the Argentina ace has repaid his fee with some excellent performances for Jose Mourinho’s side, netting important goals in both La Liga and the Champions League, as well as racking up an impressive total of 18 assists in all competitions for Madrid. Di Maria is still only 23 and looks set to remain a key player at the Santiago Bernabeu for many years to come.

4) David VILLA

Appearances: 42Goals Scored: 21

Assists: 9
Barcelona from Valencia - £35m

David Villa may have failed to score for the past 10 games, but the Spain striker – now La Roja’a all-time top goalscorer with 46 – has been forced to play out on the left flank for most of the season to allow Lionel Messi to start in a central role. 

In that less familiar position, Villa has still managed to contribute 21 goals and is a key element in the link-up play for Pep Guardiola side, who are still in with a chance of winning the treble this season.  

3) Borja VALERO

Appearances: 48Goals Scored: 5

Assists: 11
Villarreal from West Bromich Albion - £4.4m

Real Madrid may well see Borja Valero as the one that got away. The midfielder was never given a chance in the first team at the Santiago Bernabeu, but has been hugely impressive in the last two seasons. 

Borja cost Villarreal a mere £4.4m from West Brom last summer, having spent last season on loan at Mallorca, and has been a revelation for the Yellow Submarine playing behind the strikers. He even earned a call-up to the Spain side in October, which is no mean feat these days.

2) Ricardo CARVALHO

Appearances: 42Goals Scored: 3

Assists: 0
Real Madrid from Chelsea - £7m 

A key player for Jose Mourinho at Porto and Chelsea, Ricardo Carvalho joined up with his compatriot for a third time in the summer as he sealed an £7m move from west London. 

The Portugal defender impressed instantly and has been a fixture in the Madrid defence ever since. The 32-year-old has also scored three goals this season, including a vital winner over Osasuna early in the campaign, and looks good for more than another year at the capital club.

1) Mesut OZIL

Appearances: 45Goals Scored: 10

Assists: 18
Real Madrid from Werder Bremen - £13.1m

Mesut Ozil has quietly gone about his business since a £13.1m move from Werder Bremen in the summer. But that fee now seems a bargain: Ozil has scored 10 goals and set up 18 this season. 

Madrid just look a better side when he is on the pitch, which was proved as he came off the bench to help his team clinch a 1-1 draw at home to Barcelona on Saturday. 

Still only 22, the German looks set to star at the Bernabeu for many years to come.


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