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La Liga 2011-12 preview: Barcelona, Espanyol, Real Zaragoza, Osasuna

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By Peter McVitie

Monday 15 August 2011

Previewing the forthcoming 2011-12 Primera Division campaign, we take a look at the sides hailing from North-Eastern Spain’s Catalonia, Aragon and Pamplona: Barcelona, Espanyol, Real Zaragoza and Osasuna.

Barcelona, Catalonia
The Blaugrana are heavy favourites to win La Liga for the fourth consecutive season as Pep Guardiola has bolstered his attack with the signing of Chilean wonderkid Alexis Sanchez. One of the most long-winded transfer sagas in football history has also come to an end as the Catalan giants have finally brought the prodigal son Cesc Fabregas back to the Camp Nou. Bojan Krkic and Jeffrén Suárez have joined Roma and Sporting CP respectively, with Barcelona able to buy the youngsters back at a later date. With the addition of Sanchez and now Fabregas, the European champions look more than capable of emulating last season’s success.

Alexis Sánchez, Udinese, €26m
Cesc Fabregas, Arsenal, €29m
Kiko Femenia, Hercules, €2m

Bojan Krkic, Roma, €12m
Gabriel Milito, Independiente, free
Oriol Romeu, Chelsea, €5.1m
Víctor Sánchez, Neuchâtel Xamax, free
Martín Cáceres, Sevilla, €3m
Jeffrén Suárez, Sporting CP, €5m

Further reading
- Barcelona sell Jeffren to Sporting CP and Romeu to Chelsea
- Gaby Milito rejoins Independiente from Barcelona
- Andreu Fontas, Barcelona’s other B team star destined for La Liga eminence
- Barcelona boss praises players following 2-0 defeat of Club America
- Jonathan Soriano interview with AS
- Guardiola frustrated by Barcelona’s hampered pre-season preparation

Espanyol, Catalonia
The future of Espanyol’s top goalscorer Pablo Osvaldo is yet to be decided but the Argentine-born Italy international looks set to leave the Catalan club with La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid and Serie A side Roma making offers for the striker. Coach Mauricio Pochettino has brought in Adrián Luna, Juan Ángel Albín and Rui Fonte to add some youth and depth to the Blanquiblaus attack and to compensate for the loss of José Callejón who has rejoined Real Madrid. Mexican international Hector Moreno has signed from Eredivisie side AZ as Pochettino looks to strengthen a backline that conceded 55 league goals last season.

Dídac Vilà, Milan, loan
Marvin Zeegelaar, Ajax, free
Héctor Moreno, AZ, €4m
Adrián Luna, Defensor Sporting, €1.5m
Juan Ángel Albín, Getafe, €3m
Rui Fonte, Sporting CP, loan

Ben Sahar, Auxerre, loan
Ángel Martínez, Blackpool, free
Dani Nieto, Girona, free
David García. Girona, free
Javier Chica, Real Betis, free
José Callejón, Real Madrid, €5.5m
Manu Molina, Huesca, loan

Further reading
- Espanyol’s Martinez joins Blackpool
- Pochettino appeals to Espanyol to clarify Osvaldo transfer stance
- Atletico Madrid plump for Osvaldo to replace Aguero
- Luis Garcia admits he could leave Espanyol this summer

Real Zaragoza, Aragon
Despite having held on to a small majority of last season’s successful squad, Real Zaragoza have lost their top scorer and talisman Gabri who joined Atletico Madrid for just €3m. The 28-year-old’s departure is matched by the club’s failure to make permanent deals for several on-loan players, including Nicolas Bertolo, and to re-negotiate contracts to a lower wage.

Coach Javier Aguirre’s additions to his squad include the loan signing of Efrain Juarez from Celtic, 21-year-old Juan Carlos from Real Madrid for €2.5m and goalkeeper Roberto Jiménez from Benfica for a fee of €8.6m. Zaragoza have bolstered their defence for the coming campaign but after losing top scorer Gabi and key right-back Carlos Diogo, and thus far failing to replace either, the Blanquillos may find goals hard to come by this term.

Roberto Jiménez, Benfica, €8.6m (€8,514,000 paid for by third party investment)
Efraín Juárez, Celtic, loan
Edu Oriol, Barcelona B, free
Abraham Minero, Barcelona B, free
David Mateos, Real Madrid, loan
Juan Carlos Pérez, Real Madrid, €2.5m
Franco Zuculini, Hoffenheim, loan

Ander Herrera, Atletico Madrid €8.5m
Gabi, Atletico Madrid, €3m
Edmilson, Ceara, undisclosed
Guirane N’Daw, Saint-Etienne, end of loan
Sinama Pongolle, Saint-Etienne, end of loan
Nicolas Bertolo, Palermo, end of loan
Marco Perez, Independiente, free
Carlos Diogo, released
Jorge Lopez, released
Jiri Jarosik, released
Said Boutahar, released
Matteo Contini, Siena, loan
Raul Goni, Cartagena, loan

Further reading
- Zaragoza announce surprise departures of Carlos Diogo and Jorge Lopez
- Zaragoza and Benfica look to calm controversy surrounding Roberto transfer
- Contini returns to Italy citing personal reasons
- Real Zaragoza sign Franco Zuculini

Osasuna, Pamplona
Osasuna Coach José Luis Mendilibar is looking forward to the new season after Los Rojillos’ prosperous pre-season tour of Italy. Mendilibar has added four defenders and two strikers to the squad as he looks to improve on last season’s surprise ninth place finish. The Pamploma club will also notice the absence of left-back Nacho Monreal following his sale to Malaga for €6m and midfielder Javier Camuñas, who joined Villarreal for €2.3m. Osasuna have added a mixture of youth and experience to their squad with the likes of Rubén, Marc Bertrán and Nino, who all have experience in Spain’s top league and join the team alongside 20-year-old Ibrahima Baldé and 22-year-old Jukka Raitala.

Ibrahima Baldé, Atletico Madrid, free
Marc Bertrán, Tenerife, free
Nino, Tenerife, free
Rubén González, Mallorca, free
Fran Carnicer, Real Jaen, free
Jukka Raitala, Hoffenheim, loan
Andrés Fernández, Huesca, end of loan
Ion Echaide, Huesca, end of loan

Nacho Monreal, Malaga, €6m
Walter Pandiani, released
Josetxo, Huesca, free
Javier Camuñas, Villarreal, €2.3m

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