La Liga Summer Exports – Half Term Report

Posted: December 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

With the rampant duopoly of Spain’s top flight as palpable as ever, it’s understandable that those who have exerted their efforts in Spain only to find that Real Madrid and Barcelona have unforgivingly raised the bar yet again may seek fresh challenges across Europe. The money-laden Premier League and the sight of Serie A finding its feet again offer these opportunities, and these four have taken the step. How have they got on?

Bojan Krkic

Barcelona to AS Roma – Inital €12 million, and… *deep breath*

Optional buy back clause for Barcelona in 2012 of €17 million, mandatory buy back clause of €13 million after his second season in 2013 which can be stopped by AS Roma providing they pay an additional €28 million.

All clear? No? Isn’t to me either.

Bojan Krkic’s clause-laced transfer to AS Roma, which saw him re-united with former Barca maestro Luis Enrique, was an overdue move for the 21-year-old. After scoring hundreds of goals during his time in Barcelona’s prestigious youth ranks, Bojan carried the wonder kid tag for three seasons following his initial introduction, fitted with more ‘he’s the next *insert name here* tags than you could keep up with. Having failed to find room amongst Barcelona’s plethora of sublime and versatile attacking talent, he was cast into the background as the club set about conquering Spain, Europe and the world. A slightly revolutionised Roma seemed to be a new opportunity for Bojan, but the Giallorossi’s campaign has been plagued by inconsistency, with coach Luis Enrique shifting from hero to villain with all the regularity you would associate with the tumultuous world of Italian football. After being praised for perhaps finally finding cohesion amongst his array of new signings which include Miralem Pjanic from Lyon, Fernando Gago from Real Madrid and Erick Lamela from River Plate, two consecutive defeats at the hands of Udinese and Fiorentina earlier in the month led to fans calling for his head once again. Bojan’s start to life in Rome is arguably a reflection of the club’s unpredictable form. 3 goals in eleven Serie A appearances doesn’t turn any heads (two in victories over Norava and Atalanta and the other in a 3-2 loss at Milan), but the sight of the diminutive forward’s intelligent runs and educated positional sense surely holds promise, as long as the partisan Roma fans remain patient with the 21-year-old.

Oriol Romeu

Barcelona to Chelsea – €5 million

Similarly to the Bojan transfer, Barcelona didn’t let this youngster leave the club without installing a barrage of buy back clauses that seem to change in detail depending on who is talking. Oriol Romeu, who left Barcelona having made just a single first team appearance, reportedly signed for Chelsea for the modest fee of €5 million, but with Barcelona befitted with the opportunity to pay €10 million for his safe return in 2012 or €15 million in 2013, providing Chelsea are willing to sell. Half a season into his Chelsea career and its hard envisage that happening. After a sporadic number of appearances in Chelsea’s Champions League campaign, Romeu produced an impressive performance against Wolves, swiftly followed by another in the 3-0 victory over Newcastle United, where the midfielder’s tireless work rate was matched by his technical assurance. While John Obi Mikel continues to flatter to deceive, Romeu’s Chelsea future is looking brighter as the months go by. With Andre Villas Boas’ penchant for playing a sometimes dangerously high defensive line, the requirement for an accomplished, deep lying workaholic in his midfield seems more apparent, and the 20-year-old appears to be tailor made for the Portuguese manager’s revolution.

Pablo Osvaldo

RCD Espanyol to AS Roma – €18 million

Roma’s biggest summer signing, a €18 million acquisition from Espanyol where he averaged an impressive ratio of a goal every other game last season, has had a mixed start to Roma’s chaotic first half of the season. Currently leading Roma’s Serie A goal scoring charts with 6 goals, the Argentine-native’s most notable action this term is unfortunately a spectacular bust up with compatriot and AS Roma team mate, Erik Lamela. Osvaldo picked up a cool €50,000 fine, the maximum allowable by the Lega Calcio, and a suspension after punching Lamela. 20-year-old Lamela had the cheek to not pass the ball to Osvaldo in Roma’s 2-0 loss at Udinese, and thus received a right hook for his trouble following the game. After picking up his first Italy cap in October, Osvaldo’s future chances of representing the Azzuri again were thrown into doubt after this incident, given coach Cesare Prandelli’s strict behaviour code. The incident between Osvaldo and Lamela was perhaps the lowest point of a difficult first season thus far for Roma, where things just haven’t gone to plan on or off the pitch for the perplexed Luis Enrique.

Juan Mata

Valencia CF to Chelsea – £23.5 million

Alongside Sergio Aguero (who, you may have noticed, has been omitted from this list, mainly due to the reason that his goal-laden start to Premier League life has already devoured plenty of column inches and internet space), Juan Mata is the finest example of a player flawlessly managing the transition from Spain to England, dispelling the notion that a bedding in period is always necessary for those pesky light weight foreigners who can’t handle the big bad Prem. Mata, along with Aguero, David Silva and Luka Modric, have embodied a type of player that is seemingly dominating the Premier League at the minute, the diminutive, technically adept playmaker capable of finding space and that unfathomable pass. The fact that Mata has fulfilled this role at Stamford Bridge while seamlessly adapting to life in south west London makes it all the more remarkable. Alongside Daniel Sturridge, Mata has been a vital component of Chelsea’s attacking set up, and without the presence of the 23-year-old, Andre Villas Boas’ side have looked devoid of ideas as Chelsea’s old guard have at times struggled to provide. Leading the assists charts at Stamford Bridge, Mata has 7 in his first 13 Premier League appearances, also putting his former side Valencia to the sword in the Champions League, laying on two for Didier Drogba in a 3-0 victory. Debut goals in both his first Premier League and Champions League Chelsea outings proves he knows how to find the net himself.

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