El Centrocampista

DANCING TO A LATIN BEAT -The growing influence of La Liga players in England

By Richard Thorburn

Two weeks ago at the Ethiad stadium we paid witness to has been described as the ‘greatest ever debut in the Premiership’ by excited pundits.

In a mere 35 minute cameo, Sergio Aguero showed us all just a glimpse of his vast talent by bagging himself a brace and provided an esquiste assist for Spaniard David Silva to net the third.

Signed for a reported 38 million euros from Athletico Madrid in the summer, it was a debut that silenced all critics who suggested that once again Manchester City had overspent.

While it would be foolish to suggest that Aguero has repaid all of that transfer fee just three weeks after signing, many feel that we will be seeing his name on the scoresheet more often than not this season.

This weekend’s much hyped debut was that of Juan Mata who appeared for the first time in a Chelsea shirt against Norwich City.

Coming on as a subsitute in the 67th minute, Mata sealed the victory with a curled effort, and has already recieved plaudits from all corners of the globe – especially around the Kennsington area.

The creativity that has been absent from the Chelsea team for the past couple of years looks to have finally been found.

Not too long ago, there was a time when any player moving into England from La Liga with a high price tag would have journalists hovering their fingers over the ‘F’ ‘L’ ‘O’ and ‘P’ of their keyboard just waiting for them not to settle or live up to expectations.

Spanish born players in particluar  have historically struggled in England,  with an average stay of just over two years before being moved on again.

Arteta has settled well at Everton

The tremendously talented Jose Antonio Reyes never really fulfilled his promise at Arsenal despite excitment at the time of his signing reaching fever pitch.

Since then however, it does seem that the tide has turned.

Fernando Torres, Mikel Arteta, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva are all players to have flourished in the Premiership.

While only Torres and Silva came with the pressure of a high price tag, all have played vital parts in their respective teams over the years and had question marks over them on arrival.

The technique and flair that the Spanish have been gifted with for many a year now is still evident, but ever so crucially is that strength, steel and mentality that is needed to compete in one of the most physical leagues in the world.

While teams like Osasuna have recieved criticism for their ‘ugly’ style of play they hardly hand out the treatment that for example Stoke have done so succesfully for the past number of years.

The opening three weekends of the 2011/2012 – goalkeepers aside –  have only validated the opinion that it is becoming less a risk to buy from La Liga.

While it would be completely disrespectful and wholly inaccurate to suggest that La Liga is becoming a ‘feeder’ league to the Premiership it is a relationship that both England and Spain can benifit from.

Last week I mentioned the unlikely link between Osasuna and Kilmarnock, and it would be of little suprise if more of these types of links were established, giving players a taste and feel of what other footballing cultures are like.

With more managers embracing and appreciating the skill and talent of Spanish players, rather chillingly for the rest of the world, the increased influence of Spanish players in other leagues is only going to strengthen their tight grip on international football.

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