We are at the end of the summer transfer season and much has happened since the 2012-13 La Liga season. Previously we had the likes of Radamel Falcao leaving Spain for France's Ligue 1, Neymar leaving Santos for Barcelona, and numerous players moving within Spain. That early group had, most notably, Gonzalo Higuain going to Napoli from Real Madrid, Isco arriving at Real from Malaga, David Villa moving from Barcelona to Atletico Madrid, and Valencia's Roberto Soldado moving to the Premier League's Tottenham Hotspur. Now we have the Real departures of Kaka to AC Milan and Mesut Ozil to Arsenal, and the arrival of Gareth Bale from Tottenham to Real Madrid.
What will it all mean for the 2013-14 season?
To begin with La Liga are the net losers in this series of transfers. Atletico Madrid are still a contender in Spain, but only for third place and a Champions League slot. Atletico's trade-off, Villa for Falcao, seems even in talent if not in current form, with the Colombian the higher valued asset. This is a minus deal for La Liga.
Roberto Soldado was the scoring soul of Valencia and he is already sorely missed, and none at Tottenham think he will be helping them forget Bale's departure. But Valencia could have played for a Champions League slot this season and the odds of success for that quest have been diminished with Soldado's departure. This was another minus deal for La Liga.
At the top of the pile, Barcelona's Neymar has already paid off dividends and the Barca leadership can easily enjoy their one-upmanship move viz. their archrivals. Thought the Barcelona acquisition was a plus, the Real Madrid loss of Kaka and Ozil for Bale can only be seen as a minus in aggregate.
The Scottish striker is a good player and may develop into a great one, but the Brazilian has a few very good years left in him and the German is at his peak and responsible for quite a few of Cristiano Ronaldo's scores over the past several seasons. Furthermore, with an unsettled squad prior to Bale's arrival, and with new coach Carlo Ancelotti unable to decide on a starting roster, where exactly is the playmaking going to come from and who is going to be playing striker behind or next to whom at Real? This is also a minus for La Liga.
It would also not be out of the realm of possibility to see upsets in the forthcoming Champions League as a direct result of some of these transfers. Imagine the next match between Barcelona and AC Milan in Group H with a rejuvenated Kaka playing alongside Mario Balotelli, or Higuain and Ozil wreaking havoc with their new teams in Group F. This is an added minus for Spanish Football.
So what are the positives here?
First it will be fun for the Spanish football fans of 19 teams to see Ancelotti fumble for a formula at Real since it will make the 2nd through 20th slots on the La Liga table more competitive. Second, it will be fun for fans everywhere to watch Neymar and Messi develop their budding chemistry and carry Barcelona to another great year in all competitions. Third, it will be fun for old and new fans of the respective individual players who have departed--they will get to see those starts show what they are made of at their new clubs, since each will doubtless play a pivotal role now that they are in lower profile teams. So the transfers might end up being a win for some fans, but they are certainly no win for the prestige, caliber of play, and overall league strength of Spanish Football.