Physically imposing, impressively mature and incredibly agile, Alvaro Dominguez is viewed as the future of the Spanish National team. His performances for Atletico Madrid almost always attracted praise whilst his sense of positioning demonstrated footballing intelligence. Yet despite his capabilities, the Spanish club agreed to sell him to Borussia Monchengladbach for €8m. “Every day players are looking for opportunities to play abroad,” he declared.
“There are other big leagues such as the Bundesliga or Premier League where they play good football and fortunately they want to sign Spanish players.
“Perhaps at other clubs you are valued more than at your own,” said a puzzled Dominguez as he attempted to explain the move.
However, is it fair to say that La Liga clubs simply undervalue their Spanish players? Whilst Dominguez may boast great potential, the many weaknesses to his game saw the club decide to keep hold of their two centre-backs who started and won the Europa League final and sacrifice the youngster who still has much to learn.
Based on statistics, the club made the right choice. One of the worst in the League when it comes to tackling, 16 Atletico players including the offensive Diego were better at tackling an opponent than Dominguez. According to further statistics, both Miranda and Diego Godin proved better in terms of clearances, interceptions and even the average number of passes completed per game.
Still good enough to keep, it is important to note that Atletico Madrid is a team that must balance the books and thus certain stars must be sold in order to generate revenue. “The truth is, things in Spain are bad,” explained Francisco Gallardo, another player plying his trade abroad, in an interview with Golfutgol earlier this year.
“Contracts are drawn up and never fulfilled and it’s true that people don’t know just how bad Spanish football is for the players.”
ABC published a report just after the 2010 World Cup in which it explained how, due to the success of the national team, Spaniards now find themselves in a ‘privileged’ position. ‘Spanish football is now in fashion’, they proclaimed. According to their report, 59 players left the country that summer to try their luck abroad, 29 of them had played in either the Primera or Segunda Division.
With clubs suffering from an economic meltdown, selling off Spanish talent to rich clubs abroad has proved to be a lucrative form of business. Home of the world and European champions, Spain is simply creating more talent than it has money to keep. As the rest of the world admires the technique and skill with which young Spaniards are developed, more and more clubs abroad are vying for a piece of the puzzle hoping that somehow, their purchases will inspire greater success.
With only two clubs boasting the financial muscle to purchase whomever they want, if a Spaniard does possess talent then he has two choices. The first is to wait for either one of Barcelona or Real Madrid to approach him. The second is to travel abroad in search of money and titles. With a growing number of Spanish Coaches working outside of Spain, it has become even easier to lure talented individuals abroad, promising them opportunities and greater recognition.
When it comes to the national team, David Silva was one of the first who opined that it appeared one had to play for one of the top two Spanish clubs to merit recognition. Yet, his move and subsequent performances for Manchester City have won him worldwide approval and ultimately a starting place in Vicente del Bosque’s Euro 2012-winning side. This only encourages more players who cannot or will not agree a move to the top two, to seek moves abroad.
For the older players such as Guti and Raul Gonzalez, leaving Spain allowed them to still play competitive football whilst for highly-rated youngsters such as Bojan Krkic and Daniel Carvajal, it is a chance to gain experience in a tough League. For Los Blancos who boast both Alvaro Arbeloa and Sergio Ramos, there is simply no room for the young Carvajal. However, the club do believe in him, so much so that they put in place a buy-back clause that can be activated at the end of the season.
Considering the above, one can deduce that Spanish players are not undervalued at home but perhaps overvalued abroad.