El Centrocampista

Esteban Granero adds some Spanish flavour to life at Loftus Road

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This summer Esteban Granero left his home club of Real Madrid to sign for QPR, in the process joining the growing number of Spaniards who ply their trade in the English Premier League. It is an unfortunate trend in Spanish football at the moment – the success enjoyed both internationally and at club level means their players are in high demand, yet the poor financial situation in La Liga make departures ever more likely.

The arrival of Granero at Loftus Road during the summer coincided with the capture of Pablo Hernandez and Michu by Welsh side Swansea City – with few surprised to see all three players settle well in their new surroundings.

Granero is a Madrid boy through-and-through. Born and raised in the city, he joined the Real Madrid youth system at an early age. Despite excelling in the youth teams at Real, Granero struggled to break into the first team and similar to other Madrid youngsters such as Juan Mata and Roberto Soldado, was forced to move elsewhere in an effort to play more football. It was a similar story at international level for el pirata (the pirate) – despite appearing consistently at all youth levels of the Spanish system, he is yet to make the step up to the full squad.

The lure of game time saw him make the short trip across the capital to Getafe in 2007 and an initial loan-deal was made permanent following some impressive performances at the Colesium Alfonso Perez. Granero featured in 27 games during the 2007/08 campaign when Michael Laudrup was first team coach at Getafe,  then played 35 games times under Victor Munoz the following season. By the summer of 2008, Granero had firmly established himself as an integral part of the Getafe squad.

His performances in the suburbs of the capital were of such a standard that Real Madrid chose to activate a buy-out clause that was inserted in the original dead and Granero was back at the club where he began as a boy. This proved to be a bad move for the player however. Despite appearing regularly at Madrid it was largely from the bench. Coach Jose Mourinho obviously did not feel Granero was good enough; his investments in the transfer windows were for players who competed directly with Granero for a place in the first team.

Many were perhaps surprised when Granero moved to QPR. His quality is arguably deserving of a higher standing team, he had been linked with both Tottenham and Liverpool over the summer. However the midfielder himself says he was convinced the move was right by “Mark Hughes’ vision for the club”.

Unfortunately, Granero hasn’t had the easiest of starts to life in England but that was to be expected. Despite investing heavily QPR were still considered one of the favourites to go down and that has proven to be the case. They find themselves bottom of the table and without a single win all season, it is true that there is still plenty of football to be played but Christmas is quickly approaching and if no upturn in form is forthcoming Mark Hughes may well be dismissed before the New Year.

However QPR have a quality squad and they are expected to turn things round and survive, whether with Hughes in charge or not. Granero is playing alongside a lot of quality players and as a group they can be expected to grow as a club. Then player himself has settled well, often players struggle to adapt or look off the pace, this could have been expected after so long on the bench at Madrid but he has been first choice for the team playing at the heart of the midfield and dictating the play.

Granero has shown flashes of the talent he possesses including a brilliant goal, albeit in defeat, against West Bromwich Albion. The Spaniard is still young enough to say that the best years of his career are ahead of him. What is important now is that he continues to play regularly in a competitive league within a strong side. At Loftus Road there is a lot of investment and the idea is that the team will establish itself into a strong top half Premier League side in the next few years.

Whether he remains at QPR depends on their Premier League survival. Granero is a quality player and in London he has the chance to really establish himself as a player. Whether QPR is a stepping stone back to better things or a home for years to come is yet to be seen. What is true is that Granero will be a huge part of what goes on at QPR this season and potentially for years to come.

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