EPL, Serie A steal a march on La Liga

Liverpool have been the busiest English club during this transfer window, signing six players - including Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino.
Liverpool have been the busiest English club during this transfer window, signing six players - including Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Usually, it is the Spanish La Liga which makes the big-name signings in the pre-season.

Last year, Barcelona grabbed Luis Suarez for €81 million (S$121 million) and their arch-rivals Real Madrid bought the promising James Rodriguez for €79.5 million.

In the year before, the Catalan football giants signed Brazil star Neymar for €70 million while Real got hold of Welsh winger Gareth Bale for €91 million.

If the early signings this pre-season are any indication, the trend could be changing.

While Barcelona got only Sevilla winger Aleix Vidal, who will not be able to represent them competitively until January because of a Fifa-imposed transfer ban, into their books for a reported €23 million, Real's only significant signing is Brazilian right-back Danilo for €31.5 million from FC Porto.

In fact, the biggest piece of business done so far in La Liga is Atletico Madrid's signing of Colombia striker Jackson Martinez from Porto for €35 million.

It is early days yet, for Real Madrid and their coach Rafael Benitez could spring into action and make some big signings, including goalkeeper David de Gea from Manchester United, before the transfer window closes on Aug 31.

But the early signings honours have gone to the English Premier League and the Italian Serie A.

England's Liverpool have made six signings, including Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino for £29 million (S$61 million), while Manchester United moved even earlier to secure PSV winger Memphis Depay for £25 million in May.

Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton, Stoke City, Everton, Leicester City and even the newly-promoted Bournemouth have flexed their muscles early on.

Italy's top flight, too, has seen its fair share of high-profile deals already, perhaps riding the wave of Juventus' excellent run to the Champions League final.

Champions Juventus struck early in June to sign the Argentinian forward Paulo Dybala from their Serie A rivals Palermo for around £28 million. They have also paid nearly £17 million for the Atletico Madrid forward Mario Mandzukic.

But perhaps the bargain of the summer so far is Juventus signing German midfielder Sami Khedira from Real Madrid on a free transfer.

The second most expensive transfer among Serie A clubs has been Inter Milan's £26 million move for the Monaco and French international midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, who had been linked with English clubs but opted for Italy.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2015, with the headline 'EPL, Serie A steal a march on La Liga'. Print Edition | Subscribe