Much has been made of the talent drain in recent seasons away from the Premier League towards La Liga, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and now Luis Suarez all becoming lost to the English top-flight over the last seven summers, albeit for combined fees of over £230m.
Less has been written regarding the influx of players the other way, which has ramped up considerably this summer since Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea splashed north of £110m on four Spanish league exports, not to mention goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ return to the latter.
The title winner and Champions League runner-up when on loan at Atletico Madrid last term only just squeaks into our lost La Liga XI.
He edges out new Manchester City stopper Willy Caballero, who ensured 11th-placed Malaga boasted the seventh-lowest goals against tally in 2013/14.
In front of Courtois, we admit that there’s something of a dearth, so if anyone can think of two former La Liga centre-halves currently plying their trade in the Premier League who aren’t Man City’s Martin Demichelis or Swansea’s Chico Flores, they may well get in.
At full-back the picture is much clearer, with new Blue Filipe Luis’ arrival from Atletico Madrid pushing teammate and former Osasuna youth Cesar Azpilicueta over to his natural position.
As you may have deduced, the lack of centre-half recruits from Spain means there aren’t many around who can do a job in a holding-midfield role either.
Having recently signed a new contract at Stamford Bridge, Oriol Romeu comes into the reckoning, but he has turned out for Chelsea fewer times in three years than Jose Canas managed for the Swans in his debut 2013/14 Premier League term, so the former Real Betis man takes it.
United finally landed Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao for £30m in July, after making a terrible mess of their pursuit of the player at the end of last summer’s transfer window.
Herrera scored a career-high tally of five La Liga goals last season, whilst also laying on the same number of assists as the Basque side stormed into the top four.
Therefore, the 24-year-old will be tasked with providing the bullets for compatriot Cesc Fabregas, who gets in as a number 10 on his return to London.
Arsenal mega-signing Alexis Sanchez and City wizard David Silva practically pick themselves in the wide-forward positions, although both can play on either side and would be expected to switch around repeatedly over the course of a 90.
Up front, there’s only really one candidate.
City’s Alvaro Negredo may feel he has a claim, while Fernando Torres should have no such notion, but even the ‘Beast’ of the Etihad can’t really quibble being behind Diego Costa, who notched 36 goals in 52 appearances for Atleti last term.
Whether he’ll work out at Chelsea is another matter, but Costa has to start the campaign as the top flight’s Lost La Liga attacking spearhead.
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