Real Madrid and Barcelona sit either side of Manchester United as first and third on the most recent Forbes list of richest clubs. The rest of Spain meanwhile is burdened by a collective debt of £3.523 million, making La Liga an attractive place for Premier League clubs to shop.
Swansea brought in £2.5 million Jordi Amat from Espanyol and Jose Canas on a free from Real Betis, Liverpool got Iago Aspas from Celta Vigo for £8 million, Fulham lured Fernando Amorebieta away from Athletic Bilbao for free and Valencia eased their troubling finances by allowing Roberto Soldado to move to Spurs and Aly Cissokho to be loaned to Liverpool.
Riddled with debts increasing by €15 million a year, Sevilla have been forced into a fire sale and the off-season at the Sanchez Pijuan has represented open-season for the bargain hunters of the Premier League.
Manchester City took Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas, Aston Villa got Antonio Luna for £1.7 million, for the same fee Crystal Palace signed Jose Campana and Liverpool spent £7 million to land Luis Alberto. Perhaps the most startling of all, however, was the deal Cardiff struck to take Gary Medel to South Wales.
After winning the Championship last season, Cardiff seem intent on launching a genuine bid for Premier League survival under Malky Mackay and Vincent Tan to the extent that McKay has been backed by his eccentric chairman with enough spending money to break the club’s record transfer fee three times in one summer.
Medel, for £11 million, was the third, coming after Andreas Cornelius for £7.5 million and Steven Caulker for £8 million. Out of the trio, only Cornelius failed to make his debut in the season opening defeat to West Ham on Saturday, Medel playing all 90 minutes alongside Kim Bo-Kyung and Peter Whittingham.
It will please Mackay that his new signing avoided a booking after arriving with a disciplinary record that reads 31 yellow cards in three years at Sevilla and a total of 9 red cards since 2009. It is indicative of the battling quality that Medel brings and why Mackay has signed him as he will rely on the combative quality he brings as Cardiff attempt to consolidate in the top tier.
In La Liga last season, the Chilean midfielder made a total of 79 tackles at an average of 2.5 per game, committing 47 fouls at a rate of 1.5 per game and picking up a reputation that has seen him compared to AC Milan’s terrier-like Gennaro Gattuso.
His style of play is similar to the rugged Italian, nipping away at attackers, harrying for the ball and providing a solid shield to his defence. It is something that Lionel Messi has found an encumbrance during his meetings with Sevilla as the 26 year old has grown into a supreme man-marker.
Medel played 31 times for Sevilla last term as the club underwent the transition from Michel to Unai Emery, but with the stylish young Frenchman Geoffrey Kondogbia now installed as the first choice central-midfielder, Medel saw his future elsewhere.
However his move to Cardiff still came as a surprise to many and represented a coup for the newly-promoted side. Mackay will get a committed, passionate midfielder for his money who can read the game supremely from his station as a deep-lying midfielder, hence a total of 47 interceptions over the course of the last campaign.
His dedication will be vital to the Cardiff cause but it can sometimes overspill into madness, last season’s incidents saw him boot a plastic chair after being dismissed against Atletico Madrid and being shown red after head-butting Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas. His explosive temperament will be something for Mackay to address alongside his concerning disciplinary record, the Welsh club will not want to be hindered too many times by his penchant for a red card.
His afternoon at Upton Park was calm and assured despite Mackay’s midfield being overrun by a West Ham unit driven by the excellent Mohamed Diame. Completing 60 passes at a completion rate of 93%, the Chilean showed that he can also offer an adept use of the ball to launch attacking moves from deep.
His stats in this department last term were also impressive, making 1652 passes at an accuracy of 87.5%, and he will be an effective platform for the technical attacking qualities of the more advanced Jordan Mutch, Peter Whittingham and Aron Gunnarsson in the Cardiff side.
Cardiff’s search for a tenacious holding midfielder to ease the pressure on the back four originally landed at Toulouse’s Spurs-bound Frenchman Ettiene Capoue, but they were forced to move on to Sevilla’s rough diamond, the slightly loco Latin American Gary Medel.
With a solid, determined character and a tough playing style, “El Pitbull” as he is named, is primed to sink his teeth into Premier League football in the bid to keep Cardiff up there.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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