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La Liga Offseason Grades: Part 2

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

(Editor's note: This is the second part in xdxm's La Liga offseason grades, reviewing the transfer window (so far) for each of the remaining clubs. In case you missed it, Part One is available here)

Second installment in a two part series reviewing the offseasons for all 20 Primera clubs.

GRANADA

Key Additions: Iturra, Piti, Riki, Assulin, Santos

Key Losses: Mikel Rico, Toño, Nolito, Iñigo Lopez

Since returning to the Primera in 2011, Granada have struggled to maintain their position in the top flight. In two seasons since their promotion, El Graná have finished 15th and 17th respectively. However going into the 2013-14 season, things are very much looking up for the Andalusian side. Granada was a team that struggled mightily to score goals last season, managing only thirty-seven goals in total--tied for second worst in La Liga. New forward signings Piti (Rayo)and Riki (Deportivo) combined for thirty-two goals last campaign nearly amassing that goal total themselves. Both players, however, are over 30, and so that kind of output is no guarantee. But for a club with such meager offensive production, it is hardly much of a risk.

In addition to the veteran strikers, Granada have also acquired Iturra from Malaga via their 2013 mass player exodus. Iturra was a regular starter on a strong Malaga team, and has over thirty caps for the Chilean national team. He should provide a lot of quality at the defensive midfield position. Also arriving is former Barcelona B wonder kid Gai Assulin, and left back Douglas Santos from the Brazilian Serie A. With rumored interest from Real Madrid for Guilherme Siqueíra, Santos, at only 19, might see action sooner rather than later.

Overall a fine offseason for Granada Club de Fútbol. Expectations are higher than ever before. To think that a club potentially fighting for a European spot was only three seasons ago in Segunda División B is remarkable. Granada is a prime example on how to run a football club in Spain. To put it simply--build scouting networks, and don't overspend. Under the Pozzo family ownership (who also run Udinese and Watford), Granada have done just that and now find themselves in a position to succeed. It is a model to learn from. And other Spanish clubs would do well to pay attention.

OFFSEASON GRADE: B+

LEVANTE

Key Additions: Xumetra, Ivanschitz

Key Losses: Ballesteros, Munúa, Michel, Barkero, Iborra

The Granotes of Levante were a fractured squad in 2012-13. A year after their remarkable Europa League 6th place place finish, Levante sunk down to mid table finishing 11th overall. And you'd be hard-pressed to find a La Liga fan who thinks there is any chance to improve upon that. Out is team captain Sergio Ballesteros, veteran midfielder José Barkero, as well as the talented Vicente Iborra who goes to Sevilla, and Michel to Valencia. Levante will really miss the footballing giant that was Ballesteros, and the sometimes Xavi-like ball-bending talents of Barkero, even if the two never really got along. Barkero had accused several of his teammates, including Ballesteros, of participating in a match fixing cover-up towards the end of the year against Deportivo. The LFP is now supposedly investigating though one can never really know with Javier Tebas. Either way it was quite the fractural season for the Valencian outfit. With most key players gone, Levante looks to be a very weakened side. Xumetra comes in from Elche, and was the newly promoted club's best attacking player last season. Ivanschitz also arrives and is an Austrian international. Both should instantly become go-to players in attack, but with not much else, look for Levante to really struggle this year. Relegation very much a possibility.

OFFSEASON GRADE: D+

MALAGA

Key Additions: Tissone, Chen, Ferreira, Angeleri, Pawlowski

Key Losses: Isco, Joaqúin, Toulalan, Saviola, Demichelis, Baptista, Iturra

For two summers now we've all been dreading this. With the exception of Cazorla and Rondón, Málaga somehow managed to retain most of their players last season. But not any longer. Isco, Joaqúin, Toulalan, Saviola, Demichelis, Baptista, and Iturra all gone. Not to mention the man who held it all together - Manuel Pellegrini. It is a remarkably different squad. Virtually unrecognizable. In comes Tissone who should start in central midfield with Camacho. Tissone spent the last couple seasons on loan at Mallorca, but is the only player brought in with any kind of La Liga experience. The rest? Very young. And very foreign. Roberto Chen comes in from Panama outfit San Francisco FC, and at only 19 the young central defender already has eight caps for the Panamanian national team. Central defender/defensive midfielder Ferriera, 21, arrives from the Primeira Liga in Portugal, as well Pawlowski, 20, the Polish youth international forward who comes in on loan. Two standout loanees from last season, left back Antunes, and attacking midfielder Morales have been signed permanently in what was some rare good news for Málaga this summer. Both contributed positively to last year's incredible Champions League run, and should be standout performers again this season. Also intriguing is 17 year old Cameroonian striker Fabrice Olinga. Olinga scored in his first-team debut last season, and will be looking for more minutes. At such a young age Málaga would do well to be patient, but the talent is there. Kid is a class act. And has a very bright future.

Despite so many young, intriguing signings Málaga is almost certain to struggle a bit this year. It is hard to recover from such immense losses. And you can blame Al Thani all you want. But ask any Málaga fan what they think. Say what you want about non-caring oil rich billionaire football owners. But Al Thani brought to Málaga an experience they will never forget. An injury-time goal away from a Champion's League semi-final. One of the most amazing runs in the history of European football. Málaga fans: never forget. I know I won't. You live on to fight. And fight you will. Vamos Los Boquerones.

OFFSEASON GRADE: C

RAYO VALLECANO

Key Additions: Baena, Saul, Mojica, Bueno

Key Losses: Piti, Baptistsão, Amat, Dominguez, Fuego

We all remember the 5-0 thrashing Rayo Vallecano took at the Vallecas to Barcelona last year. The Paco Jémez-led squad came out in full force. High press and fast, vertical attacks. The result? Well not one to remember. Or is it? There is something to admire about that way Rayo play football. They refuse to sit back and play 90 minutes of defense. If they go out, they go out swinging. It's very attractive football, and it got them to an 8th place finish last campaign. But to build on that will be very difficult for the Franjirrojos. Out is top scorer and best overall player Piti to Granada, and promising young Brazilian striker Baptistão to Atlético. Also departing is Spanish youth international left back Jordi Amat who joins Swansea, and attacking midfielder Chori Domínguez to Olympiacos. Arriving however is the very talented 18 year old central midfielder Saúl on a year-long loan from Atléti. Joining the young starlet in midfield is former Espanyol man Baena, who will slot in behind at defensive midfield for the departed Javi Fuego. Mojica comes in on loan from Columbian outfit Llaneros. Very pacey, Mojica can play left back or more advanced on the wing. His versatility could be vital for Paco's high flying attack. Overall a lot of quality lost for the Vallecanos. To replicate a top ten finish would be remarkable, and a testament to their manager. But more likely is a mid table position--which, for the smallest club in the Primera is not a bad thing at all.

OFFSEASON GRADE: C+

OSASUNA

Key Additions: Oriol Riera, Joan Oriol, Núñez

Key Losses: Kike Sola

Osasuna is generally a difficult club to predict. Going into every season they are favorites to get relegated, and yet somehow manage to escape every time. This is the fourteenth consecutive season in the Primera for the Pamplona club. Just two seasons ago they nearly made it into Europa League, but dropped off considerably last year finishing in 16th place. Going into the 2013-14 season, expectations are as usual--seemingly weak side, but uncanny ability to survive. However gone is top scorer Kike Sola off to his hometown club in Bilbao. Sola's departure could be fatal for Osasuna who generated a league worst thirty-two goals last season. Unlike Granda, another poor offensive side from 2012-13, Osasuna have failed to really address the problem. Núñez, young Paraguayan striker comes in on loan from Libertad. And Oriol Riera, a La Masia product, arrives from Alcorcon. Osasuna will depend heavily on both as they attempt to figure out a way to score goals. It's a massive concern though, and one that I fear will ultimately see them drop down. Despite a traditionally strong defense, the lack of a genuine scoring option makes them favorites once again for relegation.

OFFSEASON GRADE: F

REAL MADRID

Key Additions: Isco, Illarramendi, Carvajal, Casemiro

Key Losses: Higuain, Albiol

It's kind of strange seeing so many Spanish players at Real Madrid. After years of Galactico signings from Florentino Perez, it seems Los Blancos have changed their priorities. In comes young Spanish starlets Isco, Illarramendi, and Carvajal. As well as Brazilian international Casemiro. Isco is the créme de la créme. Already capped for the Spanish national team, Isco was the breakout player of the year not just in La Liga, but in Europe as he nearly led Málaga to a Champion's League semi-final. A midfield combination of Isco, Özil, and Modric is a frightening prospect. The technical possibilities are off the charts. It's something we haven't really seen with Real Madrid in a long time. Carvajal is a former Real Madrid product who spent last season at Bayern Leverkusen and really came into his own. It's already clear Arbeloa has been displaced with Carvjal's arrival, and Real Madrid should really benefit from better performances at the right back position. Also arriving is the very talented Asier Illarramendi from Real Sociedad. Illarra was key player in la Real's Champion's League qualifying campaign. Purchased for €38m Illarra is seen as Xabi Alonso's long-term replacement. With a skill set very similar to Alonso, Illarra could be a staple of the Real Madrid midfield for a long time to come.

Leaving the Spanish capital is Gonzalo Higuain and Raul Albiol. Albiol's departure doesn't hurt much with the emergence of Varane. As for Higuain, Real Madrid have yet to find a replacement. All the Garreth Bale speculation seems to be pretty clear at this point, but it remains to be seen how and where Bale fits into this team. He essentially plays the same position as Ronaldo. He could be moved centrally but only at the expense of Isco or Özil. He's spent some time on the right for Tottenham, but never really asserted himself there. If Perez plans to break the transfer record for the Welsh superstar, he better have a plan. Because as of now, I really just don't see it. Was his ego hurt that much by losing out on Neymar? I wouldn't doubt it. Regardless Bale is an immense talent, and coupled with the other above mentioned signings, Los Blancos are serious domestic and European contenders. Much to the dismay of Barcelona fans.

OFFSEASON GRADE: A-

REAL SOCIEDAD

Key Additions: Granero, Seferovic

Key Losses: Illarramendi

2012-13 was a season to remember for Real Sociedad. After getting off to a dismal start la Real exploded onto the scene going on an unbeaten streak of twenty-one games including an incredible 3-2 victory over Barcelona in January, handing the Catalans their first loss of the season. The Basque club boast an immense group of talented youth players. Griezmann, Vela, Pardo, and Iñigo Martínez are still under 25, and are some of Europe's most exciting prospects. They play very fast, counter-attacking football with Griezmann and Vela on the wings, Xabi Prieto as the attacking mid, and standout goal scorer Imanol Agirretxe up front. Agirretxe really came into his own last season scoring fourteen league goals, tied for most on the team with Carlos Vela. However in comes young Swedish international Haris Seferovíc. For a mere €2m Seferovíc could be a real revelation for la Real this season, providing a very good one-two punch with Agirretxe. Also arriving on loan from QPR is Esteban Granero. Granero was under-utilized at QPR and hasn't really played a proper match in over a year. But the talent is undeniable. A new environment should do wonders for the young Spaniard, and I expect a very solid season from him.

La Real's only real loss from their incredible 12-13 season is Illarramendi. They will miss Illarra's deep vertical play but have an excellent prospect lined up to replace him in Rubén Pardo. Arguably a better prospect than Illarramendi, Pardo, at only 20 years old, will really look to get his foot in the door for the talented Basque club. A midfield trio of Pardo/Granero/Prieto is very intriguing and should give fits to Spanish clubs all season. The only concern going into 13-14 is a lack of depth. With the extra European games, la Real will have to pace themselves if they want to compete domestically. But everything is in place for Real Sociedad to explode onto the European scene this year. The upside is enormous. If they play up to their potential this golden generation of players can really take Europe by storm. GOAZEN ERREALA.

OFFSEASON GRADE: B+

SEVILLA

Key Additions: Bacca, Gameiro, Jairo, Vitolo, Marin, Cristoforo, Iborra, Pereja, Rusescu

Key Losses: Negredo, Navas, Medel

This has been the most lucrative transfer season in Sevilla's history. €74m in total sales. One would think after the exodus of key players Negredo, Navas, and Medel Sevilla would have to take a step back. Except not. In comes a Del Nido/Monchi-led legion of new, talented players. Replacing Negredo up front is former PSG man Kevin Gameiro who was on the outside looking in after the Cavani deal. Gameiro is much more mobile than Negredo and should contribute more outside the box and in build-up. Also arriving at the striker position is Carlos Bacca from Club Brugge in Belgium. Bacca is a Columbian international and has a ton of upside. The Belgian Pro League seems to be a new hotbed of talent these days, and Bacca is no exception. Expect him to rotate in with Gameiro in what is a much more multi-dimensional Sevilla attack. Coming in on loan from Chelsea is winger Marko Marin. Marin, the German international, never really found his role at Stamford Bridge, playing behind the likes of Mata, Hazard, and Oscar. But the German winger has an undeniable skill level, and should be a key contributor to the revamped Sevilla offense. Also arriving are young, talented Spaniards Vitolo and Jairo. From Las Palmas and Racing Santander respectively, both are technically gifted, pacey wingers. With Marin, Vitolo, Jairo, Perotti, and Reyes Sevilla have a lot of options out wide.

Also arriving to help subdue the loss of Medel is Uruguayan youth international Cristoforo. Wisely tapping into the South American market, Sevilla might have found a real gem. Being courted by various European clubs including Tottenham and Arsenal, Cristoforo looks to slide in next to Kondogbia in what could be a shutdown double pivot. But at only 19, Cristoforo could very well be more of a long-term investment. Because also arriving is Vicente Iborra from Levante, arguably the Valencian's best player last season. With Kondogbia, Cristoforo, Iborra, and Rakitic Sevilla now have one of the best midfields in La Liga.

Ultimately the Sevillstas are in very good shape going into the 13-14 session. Despite losing their best players, it's an exciting time for Sevilla fans. With better leadership from Rakitic, and a not so one-dimensional attack, Sevilla should contend for Europa again and possibly even Champion's League. Del Nido has a loud mouth. But give the guy some credit. He damn well deserves it after such a shrewd summer.

OFFSEASON GRADE: A

VALENCIA

Key Additions: Fuego, Postiga, Romeu, Pabón

Key Losses: Tino Costa, Soldado, Cissokho, Albelda

2012-13 was a disappointing season for Los Che. After finishing third in three consecutive seasons, Valencia dropped out of Champion's League into 5th position. Out is top goal scorer Roberto Soldado, midfielder Tino Costa, left back Aly Cissokho, and club legend David Albelda. In comes Javi Fuego from Rayo, Helder Positga from Zaragoza, Dorlan Pabón from Monterrey, and Romeu on loan from Chelsea. Postiga can and will not replace Soldado's output. He is a very serviceable back up. But on a team looking to qualify for Champion's League, Valencia will have to look for better options. Pabón can operate in an advanced position and was a key part of the Betis attack last season, scoring eight goals in fourteen appearances after coming in on loan. Pabón is not and out-and-out striker but look for him t have another very good season. Even without a superb striker, Valencia have a lot of options in attack. Jonathan Viera is a candidate for breakout player of the year. He has tremendous talent but hasn't been able to solidify himself in the starting XI. Fegouhli, Jonas, and the young Fede should all contribute equally in what Valencia hopes to be a very diverse attack.

Fuego is a very underrated signing, and with Romeu, now have a pretty solid one-two punch at defensive midfield. But with no additional defenders brought in, Valencia haven't done anything to shore up a historically leaky defense. Bernat has been converted to left back and is sort of a poor man's Jordi Alba. Pereira is as solid as ever, but with question marks surrounding Rami's future, Los Che would have done well to find a replacement.

OFFSEASON GRADE: B

REAL VALLADOLID

Key Additions: Diego Mariño

Key Losses: Balenziaga

Very little movement from the Castilla y Leon side. Valladolid finished comfortably midtable last season, and haven't really gotten much better nor much worse. The loss of Balenziaga to Athletic will hurt somewhat. But overall all of Valladolid's key contributors remain. Ebert will look to improve after a very good season, as will Óscar who scored a team high twelve goals, leading a half-decent Pucela attack. Javi Guera and Manucho also remain as very dependable strikers. Diego Mariño arrives from Villareal and is an instant upgrade at goalkeeper. Mariño is second-choice keeper for the U-21 national team behind De Gea. Villareal might be looking at a potential buyback, but for now Mariño is the man in between the posts for Valladolid and looks to have an excellent season. The loss of manager Miroslav Dukic, however, might be the biggest obstacle facing Valladolid this season. Dukic was a big part of their 2011-12 promotion from Segunda, as well their 13th place place in the Primera last season. Whether or not the Valladolid squad play up to the same level remains to be seen.

OFFSEASON GRADE: C-

VILLARREAL

Key Additions: Gio Dos Santos, Jokic, Pina

Key Losses: Senna, Mariño

Back in the Primera El Submarino Amarillo look to solidify their place once again the Spanish first division. Marcus Senna, Villarreal legend and former Spanish national team player has left for the MLS, and young talented goalkeeper Diego Mariño is gone to Valladolid. But in comes Gio Dos Santos, Tómas Pina, and Bojan Jokic. Dos Santos more than anything just needs stability. Coming off a very good season at Mallorca, Gio should lead a more thank capable Villarreal attack. Playing in front of Gio is standout loanee Jérémy Perbet, now signed permanently, and Nigerian international striker Uche. Perbet had an immense season after arriving on loan in the January transfer window. Eleven goals in 18 appearances for Villarreal should see Perbet as first-choice striker. If not, Uche will lead up front and is a capable scorer himself. Also arriving from Mallorca is defensive midfielder Tómas Pina. Pina, a very underrated player, looks to form what could be a very good partnership with former Spanish international Bruno Soriano. Jokic, the Slovenian international, comes in from Chievo and should be starting left back. One additional player to look out for is the young Pablo Iñiguez. At only 19 Iñiguez looks to solidify his position on the Villarreal backline alongside the very dependable Musacchio. Overall a good transfer season for Villarreal. With enough quality to possibly even challenge for Europa League, expect the Submarinos to finish comfortably midtable. La Liga is better with Villarreal in it. And so it's good to have them back.

OFFSEASON GRADE: B

<em>This does not represent the views of Barca Blaugranes or SBNation</em>

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