The Premier League has dipped its toes into the Spanish transfer market, with four deals in particular catching the eye. LaLiga has been home to all of this group for a while, but there is certainly a chance that a few of their number could be rather alien to an English audience. For that reason alone, here’s a quick guide to England’s latest top-flight imports from LaLiga.
The 28-year-old is an elegant midfielder, who has been the lynchpin and heartbeat of a Las Palmas side that enjoyed plenty of possession under recently departed coach Quique Setien. Roque Mesa is exceptionally comfortable on the ball in any situation, and has the technical ability to act as a quarter-back for his team, as well as being the vital cog in breaking an opposition team’s high press.
Only Steven N’Zonzi enjoyed more of the ball across last season, with Las Palmas’ almost beach-football style drawing them plenty of plaudits – but also leaving them very weak at the back. Roque Mesa is diminutive and able to dictate from deep, and should be an interesting option to allow Swansea City to have more of a firm footing in the midfield battle. The Spaniard is keen to receive possession from his back four, and has become something of a cult hero in Spain – not least for the pencil moustache and slicked back hairstyle that he has adopted in recent months.
Composed, reliable and calculated, Florian Lejeune has been one of the most consistent central defenders in the Spanish top flight over the last couple of years. Without being overly physical, nor pacy, his intelligence and positioning is where he corner-cuts and ensures that he has an air of simplicity in his defending.
For Eibar, he was confident when sweeping up in behind his full-backs or central-defensive partner Ivan Ramis, and timed many a last-ditch challenge brilliantly when Los Armeros were caught a little exposed or high upfield due to their high pressing, intense style. After two stand-out seasons in Segunda, his transition to the Spanish top flight has gone seamlessly. Now it is time for another test, and he looks to be well-rounded and balanced enough to stand up to whatever questions he is asked.
After 14 LaLiga goals last season for Malaga, while boasting a release clause of just six million euros, Sandro was one of the hottest property across Europe’s top five leagues coming into the summer. After coming through the youth ranks at Barcelona, where he hoped to make his name, the presence of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar stunted his growth into the first-team picture.
His contract at Camp Nou expired, allowing for him to join Malaga on a free – but not without a craftily low release clause installed into his contract that would be sure to attract him a bigger move should he perform in his first campaign at La Rosaleda. And perform he did, as a vital component of a pacy, counter-attacking set up. Explosive and physical enough to handle the rigours of a competitive, tough division, as well as possessing real pace, Sandro should be capable of chipping in with his fair share of goals in England.
After four years at Sevilla, the latter of which saw him take the captain’s armband, it has proven to be a good time for Vicente Iborra to move onto pastures new. Jorge Sampaoli’s appointment at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan last season ushered in a footballing evolution that didn’t necessarily suit the 29-year-old. Instead of being a key man, as he had been at times under ex-boss Unai Emery, the Spaniard was reduced to the role of first substitute.
Iborra came off the bench 19 times last campaign, often when things weren’t going well for Sampaoli’s Plan A. The introduction of the Valencia-born midfielder, who started his career as a physical striker at Levante, saw a change in their style of play and a swing in impetus. Imperious in the air, but also confident and competent enough to get on the ball in midfield and enable the stars around him to operate more effectively, Iborra is a versatile and valuable option for any squad, and that same fact should prevail at Leicester.