Five LaLiga players to watch during the September international break

As LaLiga Santander players meet up with their national teams to play World Cup qualifiers, here are five with particularly interesting storylines.
 
Sergiño Dest – FC Barcelona and USA
The USA famously missed out on a place at the 2018 World Cup, so making it to Qatar in 2022 is a priority for the USMNT and the country’s fans hope that young talents like Sergiño Dest can lead them there. The FC Barcelona right-back is in Gregg Berhalter’s squad for the September qualifiers against El Salvador, Canada and Honduras and he’ll be looking to impress for his national team. Dest also meets up with his country aware that strong performances will help him in his club battle with summer signing Emerson for minutes on the right of Barça’s defence.
Karim Benzema – Real Madrid and France
Following a six-year absence from international duty, Karim Benzema returned to the France national team set-up for Euro 2020 and the Real Madrid No.9 was excellent, scoring four goals in four games. Now, fans will be able to see the striker in blue again this September, as he looks to fire France towards the 2022 World Cup. This break, they play qualifiers against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine and Finland.
Takefusa Kubo – RCD Mallorca and Japan
Takefusa Kubo was exceptional at the Olympic Games, leading Japan to three wins from three in the group stage by scoring in every game, before helping them reach the semi-finals. Ultimately, the host nation lost the bronze medal match, even though Kubo added an assist in that defeat to Mexico. Now, the 20-year-old, who is on loan at RCD Mallorca from Real Madrid this season, will look to make a similar impact with the senior Japan national team as they face Oman and China in World Cup qualifying.
Brais Méndez – RC Celta and Spain
Brais Méndez has played one match and scored one goal for Spain, netting the only strike of a 1-0 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018. The RC Celta playmaker hasn’t played for his country again since then, but is back on the squad list for La Roja’s September qualifiers against Sweden, Georgia and Kosovo. Luis Enrique explained that he has been impressed by the 24-year-old’s performances in LaLiga Santander and that he deserves to be back in contention for national team minutes.
Alexander Sørloth – Real Sociedad and Norway
The transfer of Alexander Sørloth from RB Leipzig to Real Sociedad stands out as one of the most intriguing of the summer. Big things are expected of the big striker and fans of La Real and Spanish football in general will be able to see exactly what Sørloth can do in Norway’s matches against Netherlands, Latvia and Gibraltar, after catching a glimpse of him when he played just over five minutes in his debut against Levante UD in Matchday 3. The striker has 11 goals in 32 caps and will be looking to add to that this September.
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Five things you might not know about Antoine Griezmann


The ‘Little Prince’ is one of the most famous stars in world football, but here are five facts you may not know about the recently signed Atletico Madrid player
1. French scouts didn’t rate him
It was tough for Griezmann to get his first opportunity in the world of football, as scouts in France considered him too small and skinny to make it. Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Metz, Auxerre, Sochaux and Montpellier all scouted him, but it wasn’t until Real Sociedad’s French scout Eric Olhats saw the youngster and his supreme technical skills that he was offered a chance to join an elite academy. Griezmann even stayed with Olhats during his first years at Real Sociedad’s academy after making the move to northern Spain.
2. He bypassed Real Sociedad’s B team
After arriving at Real Sociedad’s Zubieta academy at the age of 13, Griezmann worked his way up the ranks and was set to play for Sanse, the club’s reserve side, in the 2009/10 season. But a pre-season injury to full-back Bingen Erdozia opened up a spot in the first team and Griezmann was temporarily promoted to the senior squad by Uruguayan coach Martín Lasarte. After turning in several excellent performances during that pre-season in the summer of 2009, Griezmann was called into the first-team squad on a permanent basis and never looked back.
3. He could have played for Portugal
Griezmann played in the Euro 2016 final between France and Portugal, unfortunately for him finishing on the losing side as Fernando Santos’ men won the tournament. Yet he could bery well have been playing for Portugal had he chosen to represent the Seleção at international level. Antoine was born in France and his father Alain Griezmann is French, but his mother Isabelle Lopes is Portuguese and was, as a result, eligible for a Portugal call-up. In 2018 he was able to redeem himself from that final lost with the conquest of the World Cup in Russia.
4. He was a huge Pavel Nedvěd fan growing up
Like all young football fans, Griezmann had many idols growing up but none so great as Pavel Nedvěd, whose poster he had on his wall. As a youngster, he even copied the Czech genius’ hairstyle. Among his other childhood heroes were Zinedine Zidane, Sonny Anderson – with whom he was famously photographed as a child – and David Beckham.
5. Lyon holds special memories for him
Griezmann grew up in the town of Mâcon, near Lyon. He was a Lyon supporter as a kid, and ironically one of his first breakthrough moments came at the expense of the French side when they faced off with Real Sociedad in a Champions League qualifier in 2013. Antoine scored a sensational bicycle kick in the away leg as Real Sociedad won the tie 4-0. He would also score twice for France in Lyon during Euro 2016 and won the 2017/18 Europa League final in the city with Atlético de Madrid, scoring twice in a 3-0 win over Marseille. 
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Five things you may not know about Eduardo Camavinga



Real Madrid’s deadline day signing is the latest top prospect to emerge from France.
 
Several of Europe’s top clubs have been trying to sign Eduardo Camavinga over the last couple of years, ever since the teenager emerged at Rennes and proved he is likely to become one of the best midfielders of the next decade. Real Madrid won the race for his signature, signing the 18-year-old on deadline day. Here comes a look at five facts you may not know about him.
His Champions League experience
Even though Camavinga is still only 18 years of age, he has already featured in the Champions League. After becoming Rennes’ youngest ever debutant as a 16-year-old at the end of the 2018/19 campaign, it was in the 2019/20 season that he started more and more frequently, helping Rennes reach the Champions League spots before the coronavirus pandemic ended that Ligue 1 season. That saw them qualify for Europe’s premier club competition and the youngster faced Chelsea, Sevilla FC and Krasnodar last term.
His France national team debut
Camavinga is still very much a member of France’s U21s side, but he has already featured for the senior Les Bleus team too. The midfielder has three senior France appearances to his name, the first of them coming in a Nations League clash with Croatia on September 8th 2020, when he was still just 17 years, nine months and 29 days old. That made him the youngest France debutant in over 100 years.
His positional evolution  
Already in his career, the Frenchman has played in all of the midfield positions. He has been trusted at defensive midfield, but also in more advanced and wider roles. This has allowed Camavinga to demonstrate his ball-winning abilities and his skill at advancing the ball, whether through his passing or his dribbling. He is still young and still trying to find his best position. Carlo Ancelotti will surely help him with this task.
His start in an Angolan refugee camp
Camavinga was born in 2002 in an Angolan refugee camp to Congolese parents. The family moved to the north of France to escape war the following year, so Camavinga has spent almost his entire life in the European country. His childhood wasn’t always easy, with the family house even burning down when he was a child, but he has always shown great resilience. 
His judo past
It wasn’t only football that Camavinga practiced as a child. He also spent time as a youngster learning the art of judo. Although he loved learning the martial art, which his father had practiced too, the footballer decided to focus on his first love. By giving his all to football, he has already come so far.
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Transfer market review: The major arrivals and projects in LaLiga

Several LaLiga Santander clubs got better on the final day of the summer window, following late deadline day drama.

There was a dramatic end to the 2021 summer transfer window in Spain, with several late deals that were signed, sealed and delivered just before the deadline. Other transfers from earlier in the summer have also caught the eye, with some of those new LaLiga Santander players already impressing on the pitch through the first few matchdays.

Overall, Spanish clubs can be pleased with the business they’ve conducted in the off-season. There are some really exciting sporting projects taking place in Spanish football right now, so here comes an outline of 10 of the most fascinating storylines from this window.

Griezmann and De Paul strengthen the champions

Atlético Madrid are the reigning Spanish champions and they’re determined to defend their crown and to make another run in the Champions League. To do that, Atleti have had a busy summer. Early on in the transfer window, they brought in Argentine midfielder Rodrigo de Paul from Udinese after an excellent Copa América. Then, in addition to the young Brazilian attacker Matheus Cunha, the last hour of deadline day, a deal was struck with FC Barcelona for Antoine Griezmann, their fifth-top scorer in club history, to return to the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano.

A youthful Valencia CF look to rise again

Valencia CF are one of the biggest clubs in Spanish football and they’re working hard to get back to the top. José Bordalás has been brought in as their new coach, while the club were very busy in the transfer window by signing lots of talented young players. Marcos André, Hugo Duro, Omar Alderete and Giorgi Mamardashvili are all under the age of 25 and were all acquired this summer. Combined with the talented academy products coming through, this means Los Che have the youngest squad in LaLiga Santander with an average age of 25.

Memphis Depay leads FC Barcelona’s new-look attack

Big changes have taken place at FC Barcelona, with the squad transformed from top to bottom in new president Joan Laporta’s first transfer window. Despite losing Lionel Messi, Barça fans have a new forward to get excited about as Memphis Depay has hit the ground running following his switch from Lyon. After already rippling the net in pre-season, the Dutchman then scored two goals across FC Barcelona’s first three matches of the new LaLiga Santander season. Next to him, football fans could also find Kun Agüero in this new Barça front line.

With the two Alexanders, La Real have a super Scandinavian strike force

Real Sociedad fans have a lot to be excited about as 2021/22 gets up and running. Their leading two strikers this season will be Sweden’s Alexander Isak and Norway’s Alexander Sørloth, after La Real agreed a new contract with the former and signed the latter on loan from RB Leipzig. The two Alexanders are very different types of forwards and could form an epic partnership for the ages.

Villarreal CF invest their winnings

The 2020/21 season was a memorable one for Villarreal CF, who won their first ever major trophy by defeating Manchester United in the Europa League final. That European run, their subsequent qualification for the Champions League and a top seven finish in LaLiga Santander brought in significant income for the club and they’ve invested it wisely this summer. Winger Arnaut Danjuma and striker Boulaye Dia have both been bought by the club, while Villarreal CF also made Juan Foyth’s loan into a permanent stay. The Yellow Submarine are looking strong as they continue to grow.

LaLiga SmartBank’s top two can feel confident

The two automatically promoted sides last season were RCD Espanyol and RCD Mallorca, who had 82 points each. As they prepare for the challenge of staying up in LaLiga Santander, both sides have made a splash in the transfer market. In the case of RCD Espanyol, they’ve signed the highly rated midfielder Yangel Herrera, who has already demonstrated he is a top LaLiga Santander player during a previous loan at Granada. RCD Mallorca, meanwhile, have brought in a mix of youthful talents like Takefusa Kubo, Kang-In Lee and Fer Niño, as well as veterans such as Rodrigo Battaglia, Jaume Costa and Ángel Rodríguez.

Real Madrid start and end the window with signings

Two signings were made for Real Madrid’s first-team squad this summer, one which was announced just before the window actually opened and another that was made official on deadline day. The first was the free transfer of David Alaba, with the veteran defender arriving after a decade of non-stop success with Bayern Munich. Already, in his first few LaLiga Santander matches, the Austrian has looked the part. The deadline day signing was one for the present and the future, as Los Blancos bought highly rated 18-year-old French midfielder Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes.

Signing safe hands

Various LaLiga Santander clubs signed new goalkeepers this summer. Rui Silva was signed by Real Betis to be their new starting goalkeeper, while new signings Matías Dituro, Kiko Casilla and Giorgi Mamardashvili have all already started games for their new clubs RC Celta, Elche CF and Valencia CF respectively. Several other shot-stoppers have also been brought in to compete or provide cover.

Sevilla FC build a squad that can compete for the title

Sevilla FC were already a genuine title challenger in 2020/21, but now they have an even stronger squad as they look to make some noise in 2021/22. None of their starters from last season have left the club during the summer months, not even Jules Koundé, while they’ve added some very intriguing pieces by signing Marko Dmitrović, Ludwig Augustinsson, Erik Lamela, Gonzalo Montiel, Thomas Delaney and Rafa Mir.

Bellerín will finally play in LaLiga Santander

Héctor Bellerín may be a La Masía graduate and he may have been capped by the Spanish national team, but the 26-year-old right-back has never actually played in LaLiga Santander. Until now, that is. Real Betis have brought Bellerín in from Arsenal to replace Emerson on the right of their defence and the Catalan will finally have a chance to show Spanish football fans what he can do.

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