Espanyol’s January transfer gambles fail to pay off

Espanyol are facing the very real prospect of La Liga relegation at the end of the season, after their January spending spree has failed to reap rewards.

The Catalan club made the bold decision to change managers for the second time this season, as former Barcelona defender Abelardo Fernandez replaced Pablo Machin in December.

The ex Spanish international has struggled to put his stamp on the team, with just two league wins from nine games, as they remain rooted to the foot of the La Liga table.

Abelardo was heavily backed in the winter transfer market, with the onus on bringing in players to ensure top flight survival in the coming months.

The club spent €40M on Getafe centre back Leandro Cabrera, and Adrian Embarba and Raul de Tomas, from Rayo Vallecano and Benfica respectively.

However, despite the big spending, results have nosedived, as they have crashed out of the Copa del Rey and the Europa League.

De Tomas has chipped in with some valuable goals in mid January, but they have dried up, as old defensive concerns have continued to undermine their fight against relegation.

Their games against Getafe and Alaves have now been postponed due to the La Liga Covid-19 suspension, but their face a testing run of games on their return to action.

In April, they face difficult trips to Europe chasing Real Sociedad and Real Betis, as well as hosting title challengers Real Madrid.

It looks difficult to make a case for Abelardo’s side turning things around in the coming weeks, as they sit seven points away from safety, with 11 games to go in 2019-20.

There is likely to be an intriguing battle to avoid the other remaining relegation spots, with relegation six-pointers always providing an excellent source of football accumulator tips.

Up to seven sides look to be in realistic danger of dropping into the Segunda Division, with more established names including Celta Vigo and Alaves in the mix to go down.

Promoted side Granada look to have already done enough to secure mid table spot, but fellow new boys Real Mallorca look set to return to the second tier, with games against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid and Sevilla on the horizon.

The other side in the bottom three, Leganes, remains an uncertain case following the controversial departure of Martin Braithwaite to Barcelona.

The Danish international joined Quique Setien as a La Liga sanctioned emergency transfer, with Leganes boss Javier Aguirre criticising the league for not allowing his side to sign a replacement, and possibly condemning them to relegation.

But the Mexican’s outspoken response to the situation could actually propel a survival push, as they have lost just one game since his departure for the Camp Nou.

Tags Abelardo Fernandez Adri Embarba Leandro Cabrera Martin Braithwaite Raul de Tomas