From a former Liverpool transfer target to an ex-QPR loanee, these are the players you should be keeping your eye on as Spanish football resumes this weekend.
Nabil Fekir (Real Betis)
Fekir was a failed medical away from signing for Liverpool two years ago, so move to Real Betis in the summer of 2019 felt a little underwhelming.
Unsurprisingly, though, Fekir has taken to life in La Liga easily, with his creative threat taking several different forms.
The Frenchman ranks fourth for shots and second for dribbles per La Liga game, with Lionel Messi the only player to beat him in the latter metric. When playing as an attacking midfielder, only eight players have completed more key passes per game, too.
Dani Parejo (Valencia)
It would do Parejo a huge disservice if he was only remembered in England for a middling loan spell at QPR from Real Madrid in 2008.
Parejo was earmarked as one of the hottest properties in Europe back then and, though he didn’t end up making the grade at the Bernabeu, he has gone some way to fulfilling that potential since.
The 31-year-old’s career at Valencia took off when Marcelino was appointed manager in 2017. He is now the heartbeat of the team, combining energy, an eye for goal and technical ability that is good enough to have earned him four caps for Spain.
Ante Budimir (Mallorca)
Budimir was reportedly on Barcelona’s emergency loan shortlist when Luis Suarez went down injured in February.
The striker, who has previously been compared to Dimitar Berbatov because of his shape and style, has scored nine La Liga goals this season and can prove to the league leaders that they should have signed him on Saturday.
Barca haven’t kept a clean sheet in nine away games, and will have to deal with the division’s ninth-top goalscorer if they are to maintain that run.
Federico Valverde (Real Madrid)
As Zinedine Zidane attempts to transition Real Madrid into a new era, he has opted to break up the Luka Modric-Toni Kroos partnership and turn to Valverde regularly this season.
At 21 years old, the Uruguay international is comfortably the youngest Real player to start 10+ La Liga matches this term.
With Casemiro patrolling behind him, Valverde can roam forward to help support Karim Benzema in attack while having the energy to get back and help out in defence, too.
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