In a January transfer window which is frequently very quiet in Spain, with very few clubs taking an active part in proceedings, Celta Vigo have so far been the busiest club in La Liga. Their business has unquestionably been hastened by the departure of captain Augusto Fernandez to Atletico Madrid and the imminent sale of star player Nolito to Barcelona, whether that be this month or in the summer. Marcelo Diaz and Claudio Beauvue have been added to the squad, and their arrivals are somewhat symptomatic of a club who like to get their transfer dealings done as swiftly – and astutely – as possible.
Since the arrival of sporting director Miguel Torrecilla, Celta’s business in the transfer window has been especially shrewd. The work of Monchi at Sevilla has been well-documented and given fans an idea of the significance of the person in this role, but Torrecilla and the Galicians’ excellent scouting system has gone rather under the radar. The ability to navigate the European and South American markets in the search for talented players at bargain prices has served them particularly well.
The likes of Michael Krohn-Dehli, Nemanja Radoja and Daniel Wass have been excellent acquisitions, whilst Theo Bongonda and Dejan Drazic are youngsters who have shown promise, especially the former. Over on the other side of the equator, players like Augusto, Gustavo Cabral and Pablo Hernandez have come in on cut-price deals and proved to be superb servants to the club. Additionally, it seems as though they have taken advantage of their relationship with Barcelona B, bringing in Andreu Fontas, Sergi Gomez, Carles Planas and even Nolito, who played for the Catalans’ B team before arriving at Balaidos from Benfica.
All of this, yet Celta’s record transfer fee is just €4.8m for Iago Aspas, but the common theme is that with each passing window, the numbers are escalating. This shows the club are growing, in no small part thanks to the buying and selling that Torrecilla is the conductor of.
Signing Diaz augmented the Chilean contingent at Balaidos – he joins Hernandez and Fabian Orellana. Once fit, the 29-year-old will no doubt be employed in the deep-lying midfield role vacated by Augusto, and it is clear that he has the attributes to replace the Argentine. Diaz is an extremely intelligent footballer, who played a fairly underrated role in Chile’s recent successes under Jorge Sampaoli, in that he likes to start moves from deep with his simple but effective passing, and if Eduardo Berizzo can get him fit and firing then he could be a key component in his Celta side.
Saturdays’s 4-3 victory over Levante proved, however, that Diaz will not be alone in shouldering the burden of Augusto’s absence. Wass is slowly maturing into an accomplished, all-round midfielder who can spray passes all over the pitch. His clipped assist for John Guidetti’s second goal of the game is evidence of this, and even though the 26-year-old has operated on the left-hand side of the pitch throughout his career, he is continuing to impress centrally.
As for Beauvue, questions were immediately asked upon his arrival about whether or not he would be replacing Nolito. Berizzo was quick to quell these claims, though.
“Beauvue has arrived because we need him,” the Celta Coach said. “His signing is not linked to Nolito’s departure. He hasn’t joined to replace anyone. [Beauvue’s] a very good player, very forward-minded and very quick. He’s a player who can make the difference and hopefully he’ll adapt very quickly to our system.
Despite this, Beauvue, the first player of Guadeloupian descent to appear in La Liga since Jocelyn Angloma left Valencia in 2002, will probably fill the void Nolito leaves if he was to depart, despite his Coach’s words. The attacker has aerial prowess and is versatile across the forward line, but after a tumultuous spell at Lyon, recapturing his electric form at Guingamp will hinge on whether or not he understands and fits into Berizzo’s system.
So far, this transfer window has shown Celta’s quick-witted way of working once again in replacing crucial players. It looked as though they were running out of steam a little after a brilliant start to the season, but these signings could give them the lift they need in order to fight for a Europa League place.