The upcoming La Liga season has the potential to be one of the best seasons in a while. Barcelona have had an amazing transfer window, Real Madrid are the champions of Europe, and teams such as Betis and Valencia have the potential to make a brilliant push for the silverware this season.
Let’s take a look at all 20 teams in this season’s league and review some of their summer transfer moves.
The winners of the Segunda Division last season. Rubi has done a brilliant job getting the team back up to La Liga after a six-year absence. Los Rojiblancos have a squad mixed with the perfect balance of youth and experience, led by Nigerian striker Umar Sadiq who has torn apart the Segunda Division since his arrival in 2020.
Almeria have made big improvements to their team, one of which being 18-year-old defender Kaiky. A highly sought after defender, known to many Football Manager players, joined Almeria from Santos for €7m despite interest from Barcelona, Chelsea and Arsenal. They’re definitely a team who could definitely surprise many fans this season.
Valladolid still have a very similar team to what got relegated in the 20/21 season. They have made some signings but a majority of them were players they had on loan last season. They did bring in experienced goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo from Villarreal, however this is arguably the position they needed to improve the least, given they already have Jordi Masip between the sticks. It could be a rough season for the returners.
The Manchester City owned club are back in the topflight after a three year absence. They have a very experienced squad, Cristian Stuani still leads the line for them who is seemly ageing like fine wine since arriving from a disappointing stint at Middlesbrough in 2017. The Blanquivermells aren’t messing around in the transfer window, bringing in talents such as Valentin Castellanos, a star striker for New York City in the MLS, and Yangel Herrera on loan from Manchester City, a highly experienced and very talented Venezuelan international midfielder, who has had many impressive stints in La Liga before.
Mallorca were a totally revamped side last season after Javier Aguirre took charge in March. With arguably the best new kit in the league, the Balearic club haven’t been scared to spend some money this summer.
The best of which being Kosovar striker Vedat Muriqi, who played a massive part in their late survival last season after joining on loan in January from Lazio. One of the better strikers in the league since his arrival, I’m really looking to see what he can do in a full season under Aguirre.
Cadiz are another side that haven’t done enough this transfer window. The team that finished 17th last season should be spending big to change what went wrong but Cadiz don’t seem to be doing that. Their best signing so far has been Victor Chust from Real Madrid who was a part of the team that struggled last season. More needs to be done in the remainder of the window if they want to stay up.
Quite the opposite to Cadiz, Getafe have had an amazing transfer window. Spending big and making drastic improvements to the key positions, bringing in experienced La Liga players such as Cristian Portu from Sociedad and Borja Mayoral from Madrid, as well as Luis Milla from relegated Granada who has been an elite midfielder over the previous few seasons, he’s spent in the top flight.
Arguably the worst squad on paper at the moment, but certainly aren’t finished in the window yet. Ezequiel Ponce and Carlos Clerc are the only signings for Cisco Rodriquez’s squad far and plenty of additions need to be made if they want to secure their safety for another season.
The obvious favourites for this years title after winning both La Liga and the Champions League last season. The Galacticos have once again made some massive additions to their squad, without having any key departures. Antonio Rüdiger will drastically improve the gap in defence left by Sergio Ramos and should secure Real their second consecutive title, but we’ll have to wait and see.
The 20/21 La Liga winners are entering this season as the underdogs, but with a very talented squad. The loss of Luis Suarez to Uruguayan side Nacional will be a big miss, but Simeone’s side will be hoping Alvaro Morata will be able to fill in the gap following the expiration of his loan at Juventus. Axel Witsel is the only addition to the side this summer but is a perfect fit to be the anchor of what is already a world class midfield.
Barcelona are still technically going through their rebuild after the financial damages made by former president Josep Bartomeu. The squad is still very young but with the big additions of Robert Lewandowski and Jules Kounde, it’ll be very interesting to see if they are capable of competing with Real and Atletico for the title.
The Surprise Packages
Gennaro Gattuso is quietly building a brilliant, young side at Valencia. They’ve managed to keep a hold of their star players such as Carlos Soler and Gabriel Paulista and have added some talented names in the transfer window. One of which being Samuel Lino, a young winger who tore apart the Portuguese League last season, earning a big money move to Atletico (then immediately loaned to Valencia).
Last season’s Copa Del Rey winners with, in my opinion, the most underrated squad going into the 22/23 season. Players such as Guido Rodriquez and Juanmi are coming off the back of world class seasons and will be hoping to lead Manuel Pellegrini’s side into a possible title challenge. It’s been a Brazilian dominated transfer window for Betis, who’ve brought in Willian José from Sociedad, Luiz Henrique from Fluminense (who can be read about in a previous article here (https://www.thewoodworkuk.com/post/la-liga-youngsters-to-keep-an-eye-on-throughout-the-2022-23-season) and Luiz Felipe, a star centre back, from Lazio. Definitely a team to keep a close eye on this season.
After managing a mid table finish in their first season in La Liga last season, they’re showing clear intentions this summer with some quality signings. Signing Joselu on a free to partner Raul De Tomas is a perfect fit and loaning in Vinicius de Souza, who had a ridiculously good season in Belgium for KV Mechelen last year, could lead to a possible European push for Diego Martinez’s side.
The Potential Falloff’s
Sevilla were known for their world class defence, but after letting go both of Diego Carlos and Jules Koundé, without signing a big-name replacement, could cause a massive issue. Brazilian centre back Marcao is the only signing they’ve made to replace the departing centre backs which will not be enough possibly partnering Karim Rekik going into the start of the season.
Rekik partnered youngster José Carmona in the defence that conceded four to Arsenal in the opening 20 minutes of a recent friendly. Alex Telles on loan from Manchester United could fix some defensive woes but without capable centre backs, Sevilla will struggle.
During the first half of last season, Vallecano were looking like European contenders with Radamel Falcao seemingly back in his prime but skip to the end of the season and they finished only four points ahead of Granada in 18th, winning only three games in the second half of the season.
If Vallecano don’t get the impressive start, they had last season, they will be in a relegation battle all season long. It’ll be interesting to see how new signing Sergio Camello, a young, energetic striker on loan from Atletico, gets on after a very impressive stint in the Segunda Division with CD Mirandes last season.
If only every La Liga game was a European final for Unai Emery’s side. They’ve spent seemingly all summer trying to bring back Giovanni Lo Celso permanently, which they are still yet to succeed in doing.
A lot of squad players have left and the Yellow Submarine haven’t improved their starting squad at all. José Morales has been their only key signing from relegated Levante but sadly for them, he’s not getting any younger. With more possible departures on the radar, Villarreal could be in for a rough season.
The Mid Table Fillers
Due to their club philosophy, it’ll be very hard for Bilbao to compete any time soon. They always comfortably finish top half but cannot improve due to their lack of new faces each summer. Having Ernesto Valverde is back in charge is definitely a positive, however it’s certainly possible that other sides could leapfrog them next season, causing Bilbao to have a mediocre year.
A regular to the middle of the La Liga table, always too good to go down but not good enough to push for Europe. Celta’s star striker Iago Aspas might not be getting any younger, but they’re doing a great job at investing in youth in order to find a suitable replacement whenever needed.
The Sociedad bound Brais Mendes will be a big miss for Vigo and will be very difficult to replace. But Vigo have made additions of their own, bringing in talented Argentine ‘keeper Agustin Marchesin from Porto to fill vacant spot left by the Marsielle bound Rubén Blanco and defender Oscar Mingueza on a permanent deal from Barcelona.
A lot of people predicted Osasuna to get relegated last season, but after a very impressive season they finished 10th and have improved even further this summer. They’ve added a lot of veteran experience such as Rubén Pena and Moi Gomez from Villarreal, but more importantly they brought back their star left back Manu Sánchez on another year long loan from Atletico Madrid. Arrasate’s side should be set for yet another impressive year in the topflight.
The Odd One Out
Sociedad are the only team in the league that I believe don’t fit into any of these sub sections, they’re not quite ready to make a title push but they’re too good for mid table. Just like last season, they’ll comfortably finish in the European spots. They still have one of the most underrated defences in the league and made a brilliant addition in Brias Mendes from Celta Vigo to replace the Getafe bound Cristian Portu.
With a lot of different teams having lots of potential going into the season, the upcoming La Liga season could be one for the history books. Every neutral football fan should be deeply looking forward to the start of the season, however fans of some La Liga clubs should be concerned with their lack of additions, Valladolid supporters, I’m talking to you.