surinenglish

A LOOK AT LA LIGA

All quiet on the transfer front

Malcom has touched down in Barcelona after nearly ending up in Rome.
Malcom has touched down in Barcelona after nearly ending up in Rome. / REUTERS
  • opinion

  • Brazilians with old British names have dominated the transfer deals so far this summer

"It's all gone quiet over there!" could be the shout from the other leagues in Europe as La Liga clubs continue to keep a low profile in the summer spending market.

There's a trend for the big clubs to go for Brazilian players with names that would fit the cast members of Last of the Summer Wine, or alternatively teenagers who have yet to make a name for themselves.

Figures released this week suggest that Liga clubs have spent around half as much as their Premier League counterparts, 527 million euros compared to 935 on new players up to the end of July, with Serie A somewhere between the two.

Of course the Italian figure has been inflated by Cristiano Ronaldo's move to Juventus and Spain's affected by Antione Griezmann committing to Atlético. There's also no yacht for any agent who was hoping to get a cut out of a Gareth Bale deal.

Barcelona's transfer strategy has been questioned in recent years. This summer, they have gone for players whose names are very British but belong to young Brazilians who are really only known to the PlayStation generation.

The costliest so far has been Malcom for 41 million euros. The 21-year-old was heading for Roma from Bordeaux until his jet was re-routed to Catalonia, leaving the Italians rather miffed to say the least.

He will be joining his fellow countryman Arthur at the Camp Nou after he joined from Grêmio earlier in the summer for around 40 million euros.

I could try to be all hipster and extol their virtues but that would be dishonest as both are relatively unknown. Malcom is said to be an alternative to Willian of Chelsea and Arthur has made a similar move to that of Neymar a few years ago. Unless you know a 13-year-old with a gaming console, you will remain as much in the dark as me.

Real Madrid are following a similar trend although they haven't signed a player with an old man's name, they've gone for a Junior, Vinicius de Oliveira Junior to be exact. They've been tracking his progress at Flamengo with plenty of publicity for a number of years and finally he has moved to the Spanish capital. Another 21-year-old without any experience of a major league, he is also a gamble - if you can call 45 million euros a gamble?

The best business so far seems to have been carried out by Atlético Madrid. Most importantly, they persuaded Griezmann to stay (although we wish they'd persuaded him not to make a film about it).

Having seen Thomas Lemar for France and Monaco I can confirm that 70 million euros invested in a player who seemed destined for Liverpool at one point is money well spent. Likewise the 20 million for Rodri who displayed at Villarreal that he's got the ability to one day challenge Sergi Busquets for the national team anchor role.

The dealings of Real Betis should also be noted. I was criticised by one 'right-on' writer for describing the Portuguese international William Carvalho as a 'monster' but it does describe the presence, physical attributes and power of a player who appears to be a bargain at 25 million euros. The Andalusian club have also scoured the free transfer market and acquired Sergio Canales (Real Sociedad), Takashi Inui (Eibar) plus two top goalkeepers in Joel Robles (Everton) and Pau López (Espanyol).

So no real headline signings just yet - watch this space.