Busy January Transfer Window Amidst LaLiga's Top Four

Most frequently in Spain, it’s the clubs scrapping at the bottom of LaLiga who are traditionally the busiest during the January transfer window, often signing a number of players to help boost their chances of survival. Mid-table clubs more commonly tend to trim their squads a little, letting players surplus to requirements depart for more minutes on the pitch elsewhere, while clubs chasing the title and European positions rarely tend to move in the winter market, unless an unmissable opportunity arises.

However, the January 2019 transfer window is already looking like it could well be one of the busiest in recent years in Spain, with a revolving door of activity involving practically every club in LaLiga. Focusing on the top four teams in the competition, these are the deals that have been dominating the headlines.

Barcelona

Thanks to maintaining a comfortable lead at the top of the table for much of the 2018-19 season already, heading into the second half of the campaign, Barcelona are fully expected to continue their march to the title. Typically, that would also bring a reluctance to tinker with the squad at the Camp Nou, save planning ahead for the summer and the following season, though recent departures have prompted the need for manager Ernesto Valverde to request additional reinforcements.

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Disgruntled by his lack of playing time this season, 23-year-old forward Munir El Haddadi was allowed leave Barcelona for Sevilla in a move worth just €1.05 million. Given that his contract was due to expire at the end of the season, both clubs reached a mutually beneficial deal to conclude the deal in January, rather than stall matters any further.

Brazilian midfielder Paulinho returned to China and Guangzhou Evergrande in the summer on a one-year loan, following just a single season at Barcelona. However, the Chinese club have now exercised their option to make the move permanent in the January transfer window, for a €42 million fee that makes it the third-highest player sale in Barcelona history.

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Injury problems in defence and the long-term absence of Samuel Umtiti required immediate attention, which prompted Barcelona to swoop for Jeison Murillo on loan from Valencia. Although the Colombian struggled at his former club, which raised more than a few eyebrows amongst Blaugrana fans regarding his signing, Barça have continually monitored the 26-year-old since his 2011 debut season in LaLiga with Granada.

STRONGEST RUMOURS
Along with keen interest in making another defensive signing before the January transfer window closes, the pursuit of another forward has dominated the Spanish media headlines of late, as Valverde is believed to want someone he can rotate in the squad with Luis Suarez.

Adrian Rabiot – PSG
De Jong – Ajax
Vela - Los Angeles
Stuani – Girona

Atletico Madrid

Despite being five points off the pace at the top of LaLiga, Atletico Madrid remain the team best poised to catch Barcelona, with many Spanish football experts predicting a tight battle to the end, given the two sides could easily swap positions before the final run of fixtures. Diego Simeone will, however, possibly not have his eye firmly on La Liga, with the Champions League consistently the pinnacle when it comes to European football. Could he take the club one further than they did against their cross-city rivals in 2014 and 2016.

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At the time of writing, Alvaro Morata has reportedly agreed personal terms with Atletico Madrid, although a value between the clubs has yet to be agreed. The Spaniard has struggled to hit expected heights during his time with Chelsea, but could find his true form with a return to LaLiga and under the guidance of Simeone, who is wagering a sizeable outlay on the striker being a hit again in Madrid.

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STRONGEST RUMOURS
Along with keen interest in making another defensive signing before the January transfer window closes, the pursuit of another forward has dominated the Spanish media headlines of late, as Valverde is believed to want someone he can rotate in the squad with Luis Suarez.

Maxi Gomez – Celta Vigo
Jorge Mere – FC Köln
Milenkovic - Fiorentina
Oliva - Nacional

Sevilla

The busiest hub of transfer activity amongst the leading LaLiga clubs so far has been the Sanchez Pizjuan home of Sevilla, who are aiming to strengthen their place in the top four and guarantee Champions League football next season. With two players signed and two shipped out on loan, the club is interested in making further moves before the end of the month.

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Sevilla were hoping to complete a move for Munir El Haddadi at the start of the season, but at the bargain price of just €1.05 million, they won’t be complaining too much at having to wait. Surplus to requirements at Barcelona, such a bargain fee was agreed due to the 23-year-old being out of contract at the Camp Nou in the coming summer.

Stealing a march on numerous clubs around Europe in the January window, Sevilla moved swiftly to land 25-year-old defender Maximilian Wöber from Dutch side Ajax, paying a fee that could rise to €11 million for the services of the Austrian international.

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Injury problems in defence and the long-term absence of Samuel Umtiti required immediate attention, which prompted Barcelona to swoop for Jeison Murillo on loan from Valencia. Although the Colombian struggled at his former club, which raised more than a few eyebrows amongst Blaugrana fans regarding his signing, Barça have continually monitored the 26-year-old since his 2011 debut season in LaLiga with Granada.

STRONGEST RUMOURS
Having scored just 8 goals in 35 LaLiga appearances, after costing Sevilla a club record €20 million fee just over a year ago, Colombian striker Luis Muriel has been shipped out on loan to Serie A side Fiorentina on loan.

Dabbur – RB Salzburg
Bailly – Manchester United
Marcano – Roma
Marco Rog - Napoli

Real Madrid

Never far away from the headlines, Real Madrid are always amongst the most rumoured clubs in any transfer window. However, that has mostly been due to players leaving the Santiago Bernabeu in recent years, such as Cristiano Ronaldo leaving for Juventus last summer, rather than the “Galactico” spending of old they were renowned for. The current strategy of president Florentino Perez is to invest in young talent, particularly from Spain, rather than tried and tested superstars the fans have been clamouring for; particularly after such a poor 2018-19 campaign so far in LaLiga.

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For all the speculation that Real Madrid might make a blockbuster January transfer signing, it hasn’t happened yet. Instead, Florentino Perez opted to move for yet another promising young Spanish talent in the shape Brahim Diaz, who joined from Manchester City for €17.3 million. Already, the 19-year-old has made one appearance in LaLiga and two in the Copa del Rey.

STRONGEST RUMOURS
While a host of the best players around the world remain continually linked with Real Madrid, in truth, any such moves are only likely to happen at the end of the season and next summer, when the club is also expected to make another high-profile managerial appointment. Of course, this is also a massive club which could spend big at a moment's notice, so nothing is out of the question quite yet in January

Eriksen – Tottenham Hotspur
Hazard – Chelsea
Piatek – Genoa
Palacios – River Plate