In a league populated by the likes of Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Gareth Bale, it’s not a huge surprise when quality players outside of the Barcelona and Real Madrid bubble go completely under the radar.
But the Spanish La Liga boasts an extraordinarily deep talent pool, and savvy scouting teams will be casting their net among the so-called ‘lesser’ names who are typically available for a much lower transfer fee.
Here are five of La Liga’s hidden gems who could well be much sought-after during what will surely be a rather busy summer transfer window. All of them have helped their team to outperform their pre-season betting odds, and so each will surely be hot property in the market.
The former Newcastle United youngster has been a revelation since returning to his homeland, leaving Borussia Dortmund to join Real Sociedad ahead of the 2018/19 campaign. The 23-year-old is a defensive midfielder, and so his numerical output – e.g. goals and assists – isn’t exactly eye-catching. However, when you take a deep dive into his performance data, you really begin to understand the importance of Merino to this Sociedad side.
With 2.20 tackles, 1.40 interceptions and 1.40 clearances per 90 minutes his influence is clear, and Merino is among the La Liga’s absolute best for these defensive measures. He also boasts a 77% pass success rate in what is a direct, counter-attacking team, and so when we think of the complete midfield package Merino certainly fits the bill.
With Real Sociedad well fancied for a top six finish in the La Liga betting odds at https://www.betfair.com/exchange/plus/en/football/spanish-la-liga-betting-117, they will be desperate for Merino to remain fit and firing.
As a youngster at Monaco and Marseille much was expected of Lucas Ocampos, but the Argentine was unable to really cement his status as one of European football’s most dynamic attacking players.
A nomadic period in his early twenties, which encompassed time spent in Milan and Genoa, failed to get the best from the now 25-year-old, but he seems to have finally found a happy hunting ground at Sevilla.
If anything, 2019/20 has been a breakthrough season for Ocampos, who has scored eleven goals and counting from wide areas and been a constant thorn in the side of his markers – as confirmed by 2.10 completed dribbles per 90 minutes.
One of the most bizarre transfers of recent times saw the highly-rated Frenchman Nabil Fekir leave Lyon in the summer of 2019 to join Real Betis. It was seen as a backward step by many for the left-footer, but Fekir has to his credit kicked on in his new surroundings, as confirmed by Goal.com at https://www.goal.com/en/news/bargain-of-the-summer-fantastic-fekir-already-showing-why.
Betis did splash the cash to bring in a number of big names during that summer splurge, but they haven’t really gelled as a unit this term and remain ensconced in mid-table. However, Fekir has thrived on Spanish soil as either a central playmaker or drifting in from the right-hand side, being directly involved in over 10 goals in the league.
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Manchester City have an absolute gem of a player in Yangel Herrera, and he has shown his talent in abundance in a loan spell at Granada this term. He’s making a whopping 3 tackles per 90 minutes in an outfit that has arguably outperformed expectations this term, and his reading of the game is clear with 1.20 interceptions a match.
At just 22, Herrera shows tremendous maturity in a very tactical role, and who knows – next season, he might become the lynchpin of Pep Guardiola’s revolution in Manchester.
It’s a fantastic name, and Pervis Estupinan has the growing stature to go with it too.
The 22-year-old does not mind rolling up his sleeves and doing his defensive work, with 2.70 tackles per 90 minutes, 1.70 interceptions and 1.40 clearances confirmed by WhoScored at https://1xbet.whoscored.com/Players/298694/Show/Pervis-Estupiñán. But like all good modern full-backs, he is comfortable going forward as well as he has been directly involved in four goals.
Expect Estupinan, and the other players on this list, to be prized in the transfer market this summer.