Image: Atletico de Madrid
After the closing of the winter transfer window brought an end to a frantic month for all clubs in LaLiga Santander, here’s a look at some of the most interesting new faces in Spanish football.
Things are beginning to come together for Atlético de Madrid after a stop-start season, but one thing remains clear: they need to score more goals. Step forward Memphis Depay, who became a permanent signing from FC Barcelona this month. He’ll bring goals, power and pace to liftLos Rojiblancos’ hopes of securing a top-four finish. Memphis can play up front or as a wide forward and can add some variance toAtleti’s attack. He also practically guarantees goals, having averaged more than one goal per two LaLiga Santander starts with FC Barcelona, after also proving prolific with Lyon while in Ligue 1. That’s not to mention his 43 goals for the Netherlands, making him his country’s second all-time top scorer.
After keeping only two clean sheets before the pause for the World Cup, it was clear RCD Espanyol needed to tighten up their defence and they looked to Mexico international César Montes to help secure their back line. Standing at 195cm tall, Montes has added a physical presence to Diego Martínez’s side and he has an impressive passing range which is sure to help the team make quick transitions from defence to attack. Since signing on a permanent deal from Mexican side Monterrey, where he won two CONCACAF Champions Leagues, Montes has already slotted straight into Martínez’s side, playing 90 minutes in three consecutive games, including back-to-back wins over Getafe CF and Real Betis. His arrival has given Los Pericos extra stability in their battle to steer clear of the relegation zone and climb higher up the LaLiga Santander table.
First impressions don’t come better than this. Cyle Larin had only been on the pitch for 14 minutes when he flew in the air to meet a Darwin Machís cross and snatch a 90th minute winner for Real Valladolid against Valencia CF in front of his new home fans. The goal ended a worrying five-game losing streak, lifting Real Valladolid out of the relegation zone. Fans will now hope for more of the same from Larin, who is the Canadian national team’s all-time top scorer with 25 goals. He played in all three of Canada’s matches at the 2022 World Cup and his loan move to Real Valladolid from Club Brugge gives him the chance to shine for the first time in one of Europe’s major leagues.
The last time Atlético de Madrid signed a right-back from Tottenham Hotspur, they ended up winning the LaLiga Santander title two years later. Matt Doherty might not have the same profile as Kieran Trippier but the Irishman has consistently proved his ability to cause havoc as a wing-back. In 119 Premier League matches for Tottenham and previous club Wolverhampton Wanderers, he scored 11 goals and provided 17 assists, a goal contribution roughly every four matches. The 31-year-old will compete with Nahuel Molina for a place in Diego Simeone’s team and his strengths as a wing-back will allow the Argentine coach to modify his formation when necessary and play a five-man midfield.
RC Celta may boast one of the most reliably consistent goalscorers LaLiga Santander has ever seen in Iago Aspas, but they could they do with easing some of the burden on the striker, who is responsible for half of his team’s strikes this season. The signing of Haris Seferovic on loan from Benfica is the club’s attempt to do just that. The Switzerland striker has a wealth of experience in European football, having already played in Germany, Italy, Turkey, Portugal and Spain, with Real Sociedad. It was at Benfica that he was at his most prolific, plundering more than 20 goals per season on two occasions, while his physical attributes mean he can be the perfect foil for Aspas.