(AFP) – Despite Spain’s failure to shine at the World Cup in Brazil, La Liga has again lured a host of world stars to Spanish shores in recent months with Real Madrid and Barcelona predictably leading the way.
With the new La Liga season due to get underway on Saturday, AFP sports looks at six of the best signings of the close season.
Luis Suarez (Liverpool to Barcelona)
Suarez’s latest indiscretion at the World Cup earned him a four-month playing ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini, but that didn’t dissuade Barca from spending a reported 95 million euros (£75 million, $127 million) on the Premier League Player of the Year last season.
The Uruguayan won’t be able to make his competitive debut until October, but could prove a decisive figure in the title race alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar in a sensational looking front three.
James Rodriguez (Monaco to Real Madrid)
If Barca opted for the World Cup’s bad boy, Real splashed out on the golden boy from Brazil by sealing the signature of the tournament’s top scorer in Colombian James Rodriguez.
Given Real’s abundance of creative talent, Rodriguez may struggle to hold down a place in the playmaking role where he excelled in Brazil. However, coach Carlo Ancelotti has already hailed his willingness to adapt to a role on the left side of midfield to help feed the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich to Real Madrid)
Another star from the World Cup, Kroos patrolled the midfield as Germany were crowned world champions for a fourth time.
Supreme in possession, Kroos also offers a goal threat as he showed in scoring twice in the 7-1 World Cup semi-final thrashing of Brazil and is seen as the long-term successor to Xabi Alonso in the Real midfield.
Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad to Atletico Madrid)
Despite breaking the Barca and Real hegemony to win La Liga for the first time in 18 years last season, keeping up with the Jameses is a bit tricky for Atletico given the financial gulf between them and Spain’s traditional top two.
Indeed they have lost many of their title-winning side to Chelsea as Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis and Diego Costa moved to London. However, they will be hopeful that Frenchman Griezmann can better the 16 La Liga goals he struck for Real Sociedad last season after sealing a 30 million euro move to the Spanish capital.
Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla to Barcelona)
Rakitic was arguably the outstanding midfielder in La Liga last season and Barcelona beat off reported interest from Real and Atletico to seal his signature as a replacement for Cesc Fabregas.
The demands on the Croatian will be high as he is expected to oust Barca’s most decorated player of all time in Xavi Hernandez for a place Luis Enrique’s starting line-up and he should add some athleticism to a midfield that has been worn down by their success over the past six seasons.
Rodrigo (Benfica to Valencia)
The pick of the business done by those outside the top three has been Valencia’s signing of prolific Spanish under-21 striker Rodrigo on loan from Benfica.
‘Los Che’ have endured a couple of years in the doldrums due to financial troubles, but backed by new owner Peter Lim could be back in the race for Champions League football come the end of the season.