Spain may have let their grip on the international scene slip during the summer, but home to both the reigning Europa League and Champions League title holders, there’s no questioning the quality on display in La Liga.
Indeed, it’s a division that churns out talent after talent from their exceptionally well-run youth systems, many of which eventually make it to the Premier League.
Liverpool have been linked with plenty since the summer, so now that the January window is finally upon us, we could see a few La Liga stars making their anticipated moves to Merseyside this month.
So if you want to impress your Reds-supporting mates with some transfer knowledge, be sure to check out the FIVE Football Fancast have picked as the most likely to turn up at Anfield this transfer window.
Liverpool were strongly linked with Barcelona’s Martin Montoya ahead of the last January transfer window, but his move to Merseyside failed to materialise. Now that the young full-back has revealed his desire to leave the Nou Camp however, his agent claiming a ‘100%‘ commitment to finding a new club this month, the timing is right for the Anfield outfit to make good on their long-term interest.
The 23 year-old emerged as a regular in Barcelona’s first team squad during the 2012/13 campaign, bursting onto the La Liga scene with a stunning long-range strike against Malaga – a huge testament to his quality on the ball.
Prior and since, he’s amassed 59 appearances for the Catalans across all competitions, but Montoya remains stuck behind right back veteran Dani Alves in the pecking order and now appears to have lost his patience with the La Liga giants.
Capable of playing on either defensive flank, tough-tackling, speedy and blessed with all the technical and creative talent you’d expect from a La Masia product, it’s no surprise the former Spain U21’s availability has also attracted interest from Arsenal and Juventus, to name a few.
Liverpool lack a long-term option at No.2 however, with Glen Johnson’s contract up and the end of the season and Javier Manquillo at Anfield only on a two-year loan, and for that reason alone will be more keen than most to land Montoya this January.
Another La Liga full-back alleged to be on the Anfield radar this month is former Liverpool defender Alvaro Arbeloa.
The 31 year-old made 98 appearances for the Reds before heading to Real Madrid in 2009, since winning La Liga and Champions League titles with Los Blancos, in addition to two European Championships and the 2010 World Cup with the Spanish national team.
He certainly won’t be remembered in the annals of right-back history as one of the all-time greats, but Arbeloa’s quality, experience and consistency at top level remains undoubted; he’s featured in the majority of the beautiful game’s biggest occasions.
Having slumped down the pecking order at the Bernabeu following the re-arrival of Dani Carvajal in January 2013 however, managing just four starts in La Liga this term, and now entering the final 18 months of his contract, it’s believed the Spain international is seeking pastures new this January.
Arsenal and Chelsea have both been linked, but The Express claim Arbeloa will reject both in favour of a return to Merseyside.
Brendan Rodgers’ desire to improve Liverpool’s options between the sticks is no great secret, with the Anfield gaffer recently dropping Reds No.1 Simon Mignolet for an ‘indefinite period‘ after a string of costly individual errors.
One of the names believed to be in the mix is Espanyol shot-stopper Kiko Casilla, strongly linked with an Anfield switch back in October, whose heroics over the last 18 months have secured the role of third-choice in Vincente del Bosque’s Spain squad.
Only one goalkeeper, Elche’s Xabi Irureta, has made more saves than the 27 year-old’s 59 in La Liga this season, and with Espanyol’s financial problems well-known, Casilla’s availability this month is undoubted, having admitted earlier in the campaign that he could be sold to raise funds.
The Metro believe Espanyol could sell for around £8million but the Spain international is by no means the only goalkeeper linked with a Reds move this January.
Following the Liverpool skipper’s revelations earlier this month, the issue of finding a long-term skipper to Steven Gerrard is now more important than ever on Merseyside.
Valencia playmaker Dani Parejo has been linked with a Liverpool move before, and although he’s hardly a reincarnation of the England international in terms of physique, quality and style, he would add something a little different to the Reds’ midfield, making him an interesting partner for the industrious Jordan Henderson.
Indeed, 25 year-old is rather wiry and slight compared to your average Premier League midfielder, but he’s a fantastic technician with great vision and a consistent contribution in front of goal, claiming nine goals and ten assists in 62 appearances over the last two-and-a-half campaigns.
This has arguably been Parejo’s best season yet for the Mestalla outfit, netting four in 15 whilst averaging 2.9 tackles, 1.1 successful dribbles and 1.2 shots per match and donning the captain’s armband.
He’s was valued at £20million by the Express in the summer however, and with Valencia currently just a point off a Champions League spot in La Liga, Liverpool will struggle to convince the Mestalla outfit to sell their skipper mid-season.
The absence of a dependable goalscorer at Anfield this season has reportedly lead to Brendan Rodgers’ interest in Villarreal prodigy Luciano Vietto, dubbed ‘the next Sergio Aguero’, according to Mirror Football.
The 21 year-old left Argentine side Racing Club this summer with a promising return of 18 goals in 69 league appearances and has since bagged eight in his first 16 La Liga outings, in addition to amassing three goals and two assists in the Europa League.
Much like the Manchester City star, the Argentina U20 is a mobile, versatile and energetic striker, capable of playing in any position across the forward line and blending potency with industriousness.
He’s not an immediate answer to Liverpool’s profligacy in front of goal, but certainly seems like a wise long-term investment, having already impressed in the Argentine and Spanish top flights.
Mirror Football also claim the striker is valued at £12million, which should be within Liverpool’s financial reach this month, but whether Villarreal would be prepared to cash-in on their hottest prospect after just six months remains to be seen.