For the last decade, Spain has slowly grown to become the kings of football, with the national team winning the last three major tournaments and viewing their potential fourth next summer in Brazil. With it has come a demand to bring in Spanish talent to add flair and finesse to teams across the world. But it’s not just the established stars that are being targeted as clubs scour the Spanish leagues to uncover the next gem- the next Xavi or Andres Iniesta. Some clubs like Swansea have been successful at uncovering and acquiring stars at a low price, taking advantage of the crippling financial problems in the country to snap up a bargain or two. Players like Michu, Chico and Pablo Hernandez arrived in Wales last season and are already key components of Michael Laudrup’s cup winning squad.
Now other premiership clubs are following suit but for the fans it can be a puzzling time as they look for clues on the internet about who their new signings actually are. To help, BOTN took a closer look at the Spanish players who are looking to take the Premiership by storm this year.
The latest addition to Swansea’s growing Spanish contingent is young defender Jordi Amat, who joined from Espanyol this summer. The 21 year old centre half was a crucial component of the Spanish Under 17’s squad that took part in the 2009 FIFA Under 17’s World Cup, finishing in third place and has gained a reputation in Spain as one of the brightest prospects the country has produced since the like of Fernando Hierro and Carles Puyol. Following in their footsteps, Amat spent a year in the reserves before being called up to the full squad by boss Mauricio Pochettino (who now ironically is also in the Premiership as manager of Southampton). As a former defender himself, Pochettino saw enough of Amat to convince him that he had what it takes to step up and handed the youngster his debut at aged 17. Amat seized the opportunity and didn’t look back racking up 41 appearance for Espanyol in just under three years. Unable to dislodge defensive pair Raúl Rodríguez Navarro and Héctor Moreno, Amat was loaned out to Rayo Vallecano to give him some valuable regular first team action. Over the next 27 games, Amat helped keep Rayo in the top flight and caught the eye of Laudrup who paid Espanyol £2.5million to secure his services.
A surprise move by Premiership newcomers Crystal Palace has potentially caught many off guard as they snapped up the services of current Spanish under 21’s captain, José Campaña. The energetic 20 year old midfielder only made his breakthrough at Sevilla two seasons ago but has been with the club since he was seven years old. After making his competitive debut aged 16 with Sevilla’s B team, Campaña didn’t have to wait long before he was eventually promoted to the full team when Marcelino García Toral arrived at the club in 2011 as manager. After an impressive start to the 2013 campaign, Campaña picked up a foot injury which ruled him out for the latter half of the season. Crystal Palace gave Sevilla only £2million in order to capture the talented midfielder, which is more an indication of the clubs financial restrains rather than a reflection of the players ability. Fully recovered and ready to impress, the capture of José Campaña could be all the inspiration that Palace needs to keep them in the Premiership. If they are unsuccessful this season, expect one of the countries larger teams, notably Arsenal to swoop in fast to secure Campaña as a long term replacement for Mikel Arteta.
One of the better known Spanish players to have arrived in England this summer, Navas is an established international winger who has spent his entire career in Spain, mostly because he suffers from chronic homesickness, anxiety attacks and seizures. But after seeking some help, which has allowed him to control his fears, Navas is now able to travel and has realized one of his ambitions to play in the Premiership. Manchester City has splashed out close to £14.9 million but for that they have captured a player with fantastic pace and directness. Able to operate on either flank or as an inside forward if needed, Navas will give City further options to exploit as they look to grab the title back from arch rivals, Manchester United.
Not necessarily brought in to replace Luis Suarez, Luis Alberto may have to especially if the Uruguayan orchestrates his move to Arsenal or Real Madrid. But Liverpool fans can relax because in Alberto they have a player who can be match winner much like Suarez. Whilst he is unlikely to hit 30 goals a season, he will chip in when needed. Signed from Sevilla for £6.8 million, the 20 year old racked up over 100 games in Spain in just over four years, mostly in the lower divisions with Sevilla B and Barcelona B teams before making the step up in 2011 to Sevilla’s first team. His experiences at Barcelona in particular have helped Alberto to develop as a player, improving his first touches and passing abilities. Alberto’s time with the club was deemed a success as he finished the season as second top scorer in the squad, only behind Everton newboy, Gerard Deulofeu.
Ok so this one isn’t exactly new or unknown but for a few seasons now, Fernando has been posted as missing in action but under the tutelage of the returning Jose Mourinho, we could see a new look Torres this season. The former prolific striker did show glimpses last year on route to scoring twenty goals in all competition but he’s still mot the predator that he used to be when he first arrived in England. Fernando will know that this is his last shot and will only be given till January to prove he can lead the line once more. If not, it will be his biggest fan Roman Abramovich, not Mourinho who kicks the Spanish striker out of Stamford Bridge.