The month of August, in football, almost invariably means the return of the main European championships, and in 2021 this is no exception. The athletes come back from their vacation (read about all the vacation details) and prepare for the new season.
About two weeks before the start of another sporting season in Spain, the teams are starting to move actively in the market to strengthen their squads, get new players and ensure the maximum quality possible to their coaches, in order to achieve their goals.
With the help of author Kate Richardson, we went to meet the “new faces” of the league, with a special focus on the main clubs:
- Atletico Madrid
- FC Barcelona
- Real Madrid
David Alaba (Real Madrid)
It was common sense that David Alaba wanted to head to Madrid several weeks ago, to represent Real Madrid, a club where he never hid wanting to play. And in May this year, the “merengues” made official the hiring of the 29-year-old Austrian, former FC Bayern player, in a “zero cost” deal (but which, it is now known, will involve commission amounts and signing bonuses which are around €30M).
Given the departures of Raphael Varane (for Manchester United) and legendary Madrid captain Sergio Ramos (for PSG), it is to be expected that Alaba will regularly act as center-back, as he had already been doing in his last seasons in Germany.
However, the qualities that the Austrian can bring to Carlo Ancelotti’s side go far beyond stability and defensive solidity. With the ball, Alaba will quickly forget Ramos’ peripheral vision, and may even be more decisive in the ball’s output and construction, eliminating opponents not only through the pass (short or long), but also going out in driving and breaking lines through the dribble, the result of the comfort in this type of action that several years as a left-back have given him.
His versatility also offers Real the possibility of transforming their tactical system in a more natural and fluid way, even during matches, something that has proved increasingly central to the success of major European teams.
Between the defensive axis, the left-wing and the central part of the field, Alaba always feels “at home” and performs whatever functions are asked of him, always at an elite level.
With a multitude of good possibilities for its use, Alaba promises to renew Madrid’s defense and be part of the basis for the club’s success in the coming seasons.
Sergio Aguero (FC Barcelona)
During the 2020/21 season, any fan watching an FC Barcelona match could easily spot a clear gap in Ronald Koeman’s 11: the forward. The “culés” lacked a reference upfront, a “goal man”, someone who would allow the team to complete the various opportunities that they’ve created in every game.
This is where Sergio Aguero comes in. At the end of his contract with Manchester City, the 33-year-old Argentinian striker arrives to make up for the lack of effectiveness and “firepower” of the squad.
The physical strength is no longer that of other times, and this is not the explosive and agile striker who left Atletico Madrid for England in 2011. But the goals, the astute movement in the area, the technical quality in short spaces and the ease of shooting continues to improve, and the Argentine still belongs to the highest class of his position.
The arrival of Aguero in Barcelona will certainly not be unrelated to the fact that he has an umbilical connection and great friendship with Messi.
Having played with him regularly over the years, in the Argentine national team, it is believed that “Kun” Aguero and Messi will also have a natural understanding within the four lines and that he will catapult the team to nights of glory in the Spanish and European panorama, a level where Barca seems to be unable to reach solidly in recent seasons.
Rodrigo de Paul (Atletico Madrid)
From Madrid, but on the red and white side, the last great news of this article comes to us, but not the least valuable for that. Rodrigo de Paul arrives at Atletico Madrid for just €35M, from Udinese, the Italian team where he played for 5 seasons.
And we write here “only” because, if you confirm all the predicates that led to his hiring, this could be a cheap deal for the Madrid team.
At 27, the Argentinian midfielder is entering the height of his athletic and football skills, and should fit in perfectly and immediately on Diego Simeone’s 11th.
Fully identified with the dynamic and active football in every moment of the game that characterizes the “colchoneros”, De Paul is the “all-terrain” that the Argentine coach so much wanted to increase the intensity and rotation of his intermediate zone, in an attempt to revalidate the Spanish title won in 2020/21.
Originally an attacking midfielder who stood out for his sublime technical quality and ability to create goal opportunities through the last pass, De Paul also evolved into a player capable of performing defensive tasks, developing an extensive range of action in the central zone, where retrieves balls, plays with his head held high and carries his team towards the opposing area.
Additionally, he also continues to be a midfielder with a midfield that imposes respect, not refusing to aim at the goal whenever he can, which is a “bonus” that could also unlock more balanced matches.
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