It’s the midway point of the season and that means changes throughout the league. For one club, it’s a fight against relegation while for another it’s a fight towards European competition. Sometimes it’s even that there’s money to burn (cough Málaga cough) or that there’s a perceived lack of squad depth (cough Barça cough). Then there’s the team that needs a striker, says so, and then goes about not getting one, fighting with itself, and eventually drawing with the last placed team in the league. Who could that be?
Here, then, are the transfers made so far (as of Thursday, January 20):
In: Juanito (Málaga)
Out: Valeri (Lanus)
In: Díaz de Cerio (Córdoba)
Out: Ion Vélez (Numancia)
In: Juanfran (Osasuna), Elías (Corinthians)
Out: Simao (Besiktas), Camacho, Asenjo (Málaga)
In: Afellay (PSV)
Out: Coro (loan, Osasuna)
In: Wellington (loan, Arsenal)
In: Baptista (Roma), Asenjo (Atlético), Camacho (Atlético), Demichelis (Bayern), Maresca (free agent)
Out: Albert Luque, Juanito (Almería), Edu Ramos (Leganés), Galatto, Iván Hernández
In: Ienaga (Cerezo Osaka)
In: Coro (loan, Espanyol), Cejudo (Las Palmas)
Out: Juanfran (Atlético)
Out: Edu Bedia (Salamanca)
In: Demidov (Rosenborg)
Out: Viguera (Nástic)
Out: Konko (Genoa)
In: André Castro (Oporto)
Out: Matabuena (Valladolid)
Out: Manuel Fernandes (Besiktas)
In: Cicinho (loan, Roma)
Obviously the biggest mover and shaker was Malaga, but that’s to be expected given their cash influx from Qatar. All of their signings are solid and should improve their fortunes. There shouldn’t be much doubt of their survival at this point, despite being only 2 points above relegation right now. They’re too good to go down and once they click with Manuel Pellegrini’s system, they’ll be moving on up the charts to midtable. They’ve got a 13-point deficit to overcome before they’re in the second Europa League spot currently held by Atleti (3opts), which doesn’t look likely regardless of their spending, so midtable will have to do them just fine.
I would be most surprised by Zaragoza’s lack of investment in the transfer market (though they may yet do something over the final few days of the window) because they’re in 18th, well, well out of safety. If 40pts guarantees survival, they’re not halfway there at 16. But you’ll note that I said I would be most surprised–they’ve had a recent surge in results, winning 2 of their last 3, which just happens to be twice as many wins as they had in their previous 16 matches and almost as many points (10 vs 6). So maybe they think it’s all working out or perhaps they’re just battening the hatches and hoping for the best over the second half.
Valencia has loaned out Manuel Fernandes to Turkish club Beşiktaş where he’ll join fellow countrymen Simao (ex Atleti and Barça) and Ricardo Quaresma (ex Barça), as well as Guti (ex RM), Nihat (ex Sociedad and Villarreal), Mehmet Aurélio (ex Betis), and Rüştü Reçber (ex Barça); Beşiktaş is looking like a pretty decent club with those alone, much less with the rest of their Turkish players. I also just like being able to write Beşiktaş with all it’s cool ş’s. Okay, you caught me, I copy and pasted it. Beşiktaş.
Villarreal brought in Cicinho, which made me laugh. And then they lost 3-0 to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey with him starting, which made me giggle. They also started Jozy Altidore in that match and he did jack shite, which made me frown. They’ll qualify for the CL easily enough, but won’t be able to really challenge the top 2. I just don’t see RM or Barça dropping enough points, regardless of what Villarreal does outside of its 2 remaining matches against the big boys (both at home, incidentally). Their problem could come from the fact that they haven’t beaten anyone ranked above 16th away from home. Losses to the Big 2, Getafe, and Real Sociedad (and a draw at Hercules) suggest there might be a rough second half of the season, but I just don’t see that trend continuing.
Levante picked up Arsenal’s “next big Brazilian thing” Wellington Silva on loan. Whether he’ll be able to do anything or not might be the difference between survival and relegation for Levante. Supposedly he’s done well for Arsenal Reserves (if you can believe Wikipedia), but again, that may or may not translate to success at Levante. Arsenal’s official site put it this way: “Arsenal has established a long-term strategy for identifying the best talent from around the world. This process has worked well in the past with players such as Carlos Vela.” Er, I guess? There are high hopes for this kid, though.
And that’s all the time I have for right now. More tomorrow, naturally, including a preview.