I don’t need to tell you that Spain can match the Premiership in terms of quality players playing in their top football division. They also have the international squad which is currently the European champion and one of the favourites for the upcoming World Cup. The Premiership, ever eager to sign the best players available, has turned to Spain to pick up some quality players over the years and here are ten of the best to move from La Liga to the Premiership and impress:
10. Martin Petrov – Atletico Madrid to Manchester City
The acquisition of wealth for Manchester City meant the arrival of more quality players to the club than the fans could ever have imagined. One of the early arrivals was lightning-fast Bulgarian winger Petrov who has impressed when given a chance for City. Obviously competing for a place in that team is difficult but Petrov has shown himself to be very impressive, popping up with a number of goals and also being excellent at charging down the wing to cross the ball into the box – Man City fans are currently calling for Petrov to be given a new contract, showing how highly he’s rated.
9. Ivan Campo – Real Madrid to Bolton
I think many were surprised that a Spanish international player who had been a first team regular at Real Madrid had moved to lowly Bolton Wanderers. Campo, who can operate in central defence or as a defensive midfielder spent six years at the club after proclaiming that he preferred living in Bolton to in Madrid! Campo was a fan favourite for his solid defensive play, his bouncy hairstyle and a wonder goal against Tottenham which remains one of Bolton’s best Premiership goals to this day.
8. Geremi – Real Madrid to Middlesbrough
Forget the fact that he’s now playing in the Championship with Newcastle, when Geremi first came to England he was a highly impressive player. Loaned to Middlesbrough from Real Madrid, the versatile Geremi (who can play at right back, right midfield or central midfield) excelled with goals from free kicks and some solid defensive work. His impressive performances earned him a move to Chelsea as one of Claudio Ranieri’s first acquisitions under Roman Abrahamovic and when given a chance Geremi looked like a top player.
7. Yossi Benayoun – Racing Santander to West Ham
Israeli international Benayoun had been an impressive player for Racing Santander for a few years, weighing in with a lot of goals for the club but he had remained largely unnoticed despite his performances. In came West Ham to sign him though and they acquired an extremely creative player capable of both scoring and assisting goals. An attacking midfielder by trade, West Ham played Benayoun on the right wing and enjoyed an impressive two years at the club before moving to Liverpool where he has impressed when given the chance and has proven the saviour a number of times for the club.
6. Luis Antonio Valencia – Villarreal to Wigan
Valencia was something of an unfinished product in Spain and never really made a name for himself there, failing to become a regular which led to loans out, the last one being to Wigan. Valencia managed to impress at Wigan enough to be signed permanently and he continued to impress for the club, displaying good pace, vision and crossing abilities. His fine performances led to him being signed by Manchester United this season as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo which says how highly Valencia is rated by Alex Ferguson. He’s impressed so far for United, contributing a few goals and always showing a willingness to charge down the wing and fling in a cross.
5. Jose Manuel Reina – Villarreal to Liverpool
One of Rafa Benitez’s Spanish contingent is former Barcelona youngster Reina who had impressed at modest Villarreal and established himself with a reputation as a penalty saver. This has certainly come to the fray at Liverpool as Reina was key to Liverpool’s FA Cup win back in 2006 with a few saves in the penalty shootout despite having made errors during the game. Reina has made a few very high profile errors whilst at Liverpool, notably one against Everton but has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the league overall and Liverpool have consistently had a good defensive record with Reina between the posts.
4. Xabi Alonso – Real Sociedad to Liverpool
Benitez pulled off a coup when he convinced Xabi Alonso to join Liverpool back in 2004 given that the Spanish midfielder had reportedly been waiting to join Real Madrid who were displaying a big interest in him at the time. Alonso spent five successful years at Liverpool, showing himself to be one of the best passers in the game with accuracy to be marvelled at – his passing is majestic and he has the ability to make an on target shot from his own half as he proved with a few long range goals. Alonso was key to Liverpool’s title challenge last season and many Liverpool fans were dismayed when he decided to leave the club this summer to finally join Real Madrid – Liverpool have clearly missed his presence this year.
3. Fernando Torres – Atletico Madrid to Liverpool
A third consecutive Liverpool signing here in Fernando Torres; a man widely considered to be the best striker in the world. Torres become a first team regular at Atletico Madrid aged just 17 but was never a particularly big goalscorer for the club. His ability to score goals showed at international level though as he impressed for Spain. His move to Liverpool proved the catalyst for his success as Torres immediately adapted to English football to prove a prolific goalscorer. His record for Liverpool is highly impressive and he is capable of scoring all sorts of goals. Without his injury problems Liverpool would probably be doing a lot better than they currently are.
2. Mikel Arteta – Real Sociedad to Everton
Arteta was no stranger to British football ahead of his move to Everton having spent two years at Rangers before his move to Real Sociedad. He originally joined Everton on loan but soon made the move permanent. Arteta has established himself as one of Everton’s best players with the ability to create goals and score them at will, take set pieces excellently and overall prove a massive inspiration to his club. It’s no surprise that when he is out injured Everton tend to play a lot worse. As far as playmakers go, Arteta is an excellent one whose lack of international prowess is a shock to behold.
1. Francesc Fabregas – Barcelona to Arsenal
Fabregas claims his place at the top of this list for two reasons: 1. That he cost the club virtually nothing when he signed as a youngster from Barcelona and 2. That he has become one of the world’s finest midfielders. Arsenal are constantly praised for their brand of beautiful football and Fabregas is the commander-in-chief of their flowing style. Involved in almost every attacking move, Fabregas moves the ball around beautifully, has an eye for goal and can work his way through any situation. He’s still pretty young and has a long way yet to go but he’s already established himself as world class and it’s no surprise that Spain’s big boys are hoping to poach him from Arsenal – something the London club will not want to allow.
So there’s the Top Ten – no place for the likes of Robinho or Luis Garcia in a list that reeks of quality players. Are there any players here who you feel shouldn’t be in the list? Or any who deserve a place ahead of them?