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Monday January 4 2016
Talking transfers

Despite January traditionally being a quiet month for La Liga clubs, Daryl Hammond believes several factors will signal a shift from the norm in 2016.

La Liga clubs had never been huge spenders in the January transfer window - that is until Valencia broke the bank to sign Enzo Perez from Benfica last year for €25 million. With some of Europe’s best talents linked with moves to and from Spain this winter, will there be any big business?

As is typically the case, there is a conclave of stories linking many of the world’s best players to Barcelona and Real Madrid. For Barca, Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal will feel like new signings. The two were signed in the summer, but neither could be registered due to La Blaugrana’s transfer embargo. Having ended on Monday, whether that means anyone else will be bought is another question, and after such a stellar 2015, it’s difficult to argue that 2016 will be too different. Why fix what isn’t broken?

While Real Madrid have had their troubles, they seldom make huge signings in January. Seven years ago was the last time Madrid made a significant outlay in this period, signing both Klass-Jan Huntelaar and Lassana Diarra for a combined €47m. Since then, they have used the winter period to snap up youngsters such as Martin Odegaard, Lucas Silva and Marco Asensio.

With the likes of Lucas Vazquez, Denis Cheryshev and Mateo Kovacic all getting minutes and impressing, Los Blancos’ squad looks full of both depth and quality at present. Barring a tenuous link with resurgent OGC Nice star Hatem Ben Arfa, Rafa Benitez’s men could be set for a quiet winter window.

In fact, if rumours are to be believed, they could in fact be losing a key player. Potentially the biggest story which could happen this winter would see Isco make a shock move away from the Bernabeu.

The Spanish midfielder has reportedly fallen out with Benitez after he was spotted by Madrid assistants laughing on the substitutes’ bench when they went 2-1 down to Rayo Vallecano. This saw him subsequently remain a sub and uninvolved in the victory over Real Sociedad.

Such conflict has sparked rumours of a potential reunion with Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City, whom he worked under at Malaga. Whether their relationship has deteriorated to such a point where the 23-year-old wishes to leave, however, is questionable.

As a new wave of talents emerge this season, many of La Liga’s current stars will inevitably be linked with clubs across Europe. The likes of Lucas Perez, Nolito and Antoine Griezmann have all been linked with Premier League moves.

While speculation continues to gather pace, some clubs have acted early in actually conducting business. Atletico Madrid have snapped up Celta Vigo midfielder Augusto Fernandez, while Levante have purchased Mauricio Cuero.

Expect further business from Levante and the sides around them as they look to defy the odds and beat the drop, most likely through the blessing of loans and free transfers.

The turn on the New Year also marks for many players the final six months of their contract. Of those players in Spain, Sofiane Feghouli is among the most high-profile. He and his agent are reportedly demanding a wage Valencia are unwilling to match, and having failed to solve the problem as yet, the turn of the year invites new clubs to win favour with the Algerian.

Manchester United, Inter and Fenerbahce have all been linked with the winger, and even if he doesn’t leave Valencia this January, he is likely to sign away his future with one of the trio.

It’s a January, in which potentially plenty could happen, but given recent history, don’t be surprised if La Liga clubs sit on their nest egg until the summer. Whether they can keep their stars, on the other hand, is another question.

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