Jordi Alba joined Barcelona, Luka Modrić signed for Marca as the object of their summer desires and Málaga did some asset stripping. Pretty much the Spanish transfer window in a nutshell – except not quite. Economic strife mans clubs are having to be more astute in the market, and with that some interesting deals have been pushed through. Here are five La Liga deals you probably missed due to a million reports on something a Croatian midfielder might’ve said while on a boat in the Mediterranean.
Javi Hervás (Córdoba to Sevilla for €1.25m)
Sevilla negotiated this deal while the season was still in full swing and with plenty to play for. The reason was they couldn’t wait until the summer, as the fine midfielder was one of the most sought after players in Spain. Javi Hervás, at 20 years old, is a product of the Córdoba cantera who prospered under the tutor ledge of Coach Paco Jémez, now at Rayo Vallecano. Hervás has fine energy, vision and technical ability on the field and when witnessing him play you’d be forgiven for thinking its Borja Valero. Not just because the two share the same stature and lack of hair, but their styles are highly comparable. Hervás likes to dictate the game and create space himself to do, his smart running and variation of moving into the channels and central areas make him a difficult prospect to handle for opponents. Sevilla have managed to get a bargain for a midfield dictator they have lacked in both advanced and deep areas in recent years, and Hervás will provide them with genuine balance. His head went elsewhere when a move was agreed, and he’ll need to restore the focus that made him the talk of Andalucía.
Javi Álamo (Recreativo de Huelva to Real Zaragoza for €400,000)
A 6ft 2in winger; who isn’t intrigued by that prospect? Real Zaragoza were most intrigued by the possibility of having Javi Álamo in their time and decided to take a chance on a player many clubs in Spain looked at longingly. Despite having just one breakout season under his belt the Aragonese side saw enough to pay Recre what they desired and it might just prove to be a bargain. At 6ft 2in and not harnessing great pace, Álamo doesn’t sound particularly enchanting but his performances over the course of the season have been excellent. Álamo uses his physically attributes to his advantage against defenders, offering up a style that is reminiscent of times gone by and old fashioned wingers who have a priority of getting a ball into the box. The 23-year old has fine delivery and ability to create space for himself, dropping a shoulder and feinting against opponents. All though the modern winger is blessed with skill and speed, Álamo instead tries to deceive opponents with his unique skill set for a player in his position. He can also play central midfield, and will look to fit in a new-look Zaragoza attempting to find structure in their squad.
Sisi (Real Valladolid to Osasuna for Free)
Osasuna’s 2011/2012 was an outstanding achievement for the club and with their new found status comes the necessity to maintain that level. Although Raúl García, the key figure of the campaign has returned to the Vicente Calderón, the blow was softened with the smart capture of Sisi from newly-promoted Real Valladolid. Even if the Pamplona outfit picked Pucela’s captain up for under a few million it would’ve been a bargain, so the fact they’ve not paid a single euro is outstanding. Sisi’s a tough competitor on the right side of the field, showing skill, strength and determination as a creative outlet with the ability to cut in and go outside. His delivery is excellent, and could be a real bonus to Osasuna’s already profound set-piece weaponry. He captained Valladolid superbly last season, and his leadership skills were shown when he dropped to right-back as the club suffered an injury crisis. Typically, Sisi was outstanding in the role and didn’t put a single foot wrong. His characteristics meet those that José Luis Mendilibar strive for, but also the ones that Osasuna perhaps don’t have in abundance and will give them a different dimension.
Ismael López (CD Lugo to Athletic Bilbao for Free)
The exploits of last season propelled Athletic Bilbao onto a level they only dreamed of reaching, but unfortunately at the final hurdle they fell. Reasons behind this were an accumulation of fatigue, and inability to rotate – Ismael López’s arrival at San Mamés will look to counter those issues head on. That should be return rather than arrival really, as López was once at Lezama and in his teens was highly regarded, so much so in fact the coaches took a shine to him more than a certain Iker Muniain. In his first spell with Athletic he was plucked from Osasuna, a move which eroded further the relationship between the two clubs. Joaquín Caparrós was set to call him up for a game against Real Madrid but unfortunately López had to watch from the stands and from then on his career went downhill until he arrived at CD Lugo. Years before López had associated himself with the wrong crowd, and was more known for his moves in the nightclubs than on his favoured wide left position. Lugo built him up again though and the player developed into not just a skilful, direct and pacey winger but also a powerful, disciplined individual who worked hard for the team. As well as his wide role, he can play as a second striker and will look to take some of the burden off Muniain who suffered from burnout as the season closed. Lopez wasted no time in making up for that which he lost, as he managed a brace on his San Mamés debut against Slaven Belupo. Still only 22 years-old, López has every chance to become one of Marcelo Bielsa’s bright young lions.
Salvador Agra (SC Olhanense to Real Betis for €300,000)
Spain and Portugal often do a fair bit of business in the transfer window and much of it is high profile. Real Betis’ move for Salvador Agra though, barely created a ripple in the grand scheme of things – those in the know however saw it as a fantastic move. A stocky little character based on either wing, though predominantly the right, Agra offered glimpses of his talent before his eventual arrival in Seville but in pre-season showed up-close just what he is capable of. Although not a Joaquín or Jefferson Montero burning pace, Agra offers a different approach in wide areas with his technique, power and fine delivery. He can drive and dash just like Joaquín and Montero, but prefers to get his head up and pounce upon the gaps in opposition defences with a short pass or whipped cross. His physical make-up is what most interests, as the well built character has fine stamina and tracks back to help his full-back like few can do – it was a problem of course for Pepe Mel’s side last season. Agra could prove to be a gem, be it from wide or as a playmaker, and his abilities will fit in well with a young Betis side that like to move the ball with intent.
Part II will be published upon close of the transfer window…