Arsenal's Vela And Merida And Ex-Liverpool, Tottenham and Portsmouth Players Lost In La Liga...
A trip down memory lane in celebration of some of the less spectacular Premier League imports who have gone on to ply their trades in La Liga Xabi Alonso, Fabregas, Ronaldo: three stars who did the job in England before going on to enhance their greatness in Spain. But what about their lesser cousins, their brothers in spirit, if not acclaim, thosewho graced these shores but left forlorn, having fallen on the scrap heap of their employers. How are they getting along?
Currently one of the few shining lights in a dreadful Real Zaragoza side rooted to the foot of the table in La Liga. A 21 year old star in the making, Postiga was signed by Glenn Hoddle for Spurs from Porto for £6.25m in 2003. Any illusions that he was the next big thing were quickly shattered as he managed 2 goals in 24 muted appearances in his one and only season at White Hart Lane and was shipped back to FC Porto. Before a spell at Sporting Lisbon he was snapped up by Real Zaragoza at the start of this season. Postiga has been a main stay in the Zaragoza lineup and managed 4 goals so far this season, includingan incredible overhead kick against Real Sociedad – and it's better than Rooney's. The Portuguese striker has a task on hand to help steer his side away from relegation but if can carry on netting these screamers, they'll be in with a chance.
Postiga is joined by a couple of other ex-Prem mediocrities in the form of Mexican winger Pablo Barrera (on loan from West Ham) and Paraguayan defender Paulo de Silva (ex-Sunderland). Like Postiga, Barrera has been a consistent performer under ex-Mexico (and now ex-Zaragoza) coach Javier Aguirre this season playing all but one Liga game so far, and has even managed a goal. One more than he managed in his season at West Ham. Just like at West Ham, he wears number 16. Last, and definitely least, Paulo De Silva has managed 12 appearances, but, alas, has yet to keep a clean sheet in defence. Fail
Talking of South Americans, that takes us on nicely to.....
Poor man's Lionel Messi; light-weight dive merchant; Carling Cup specialist: whatever you want to call him, the diminutive Mexican, on loan from Arsenal to Real Sociedad, is actually starting to show that he has got game. Like Postiga, he's also scored a fantastic overhead goal this season and been a central part of his side's attacking unit with 2 goals and 3 assists. The Basque side are doing marginally better than Zaragoza, hovering above the relegation places. Vela's partnership with fellow forwards Imanol Agirretxe and Antoinne Griezmann will be key to their success in the second half of the season.
Carlos Vela's teammate last season at West Brom Albion, Zuiverloon also decided to up sticks and make the switch to warmer climes this summer, securing a move to the island of Mallorca. The dutch full back arrived at the Baggies from Heerenveen in 2008 for a cool £3.2million and enjoyed a good couple of seasons before falling out of favour and eventually being sent to Ipswich. He wasn't much liked there either and they sent him back only for Roy Hodgson to release the wide man this summer. Zuiverloon started the first 7 games of the season but has once again fallen out of his manager's plans and spends most games watching from the bench.
Sticking with the West Brom theme, we must of course give a mention to Villarreal's Borja Valero. The all-action midfielder has done what he couldn't do on these shores and become an essential pick for his manager. Valero is currently the only shining light in what has been a dreadful season for the Yellow Submarine so far. With stars like Nilmar and Peppe Rossi out through injury and the club losing wing-wizard Cazorla in the summer, Valero has shouldered the responsibility and been the driving force for an otherwise insipid side. He has played every game and has two goals and three assists: he is easily their player of the season so far.
A little less glamorous but no less worthy of a mention, Noe Pamarot has been a fixture in lower half La Liga action since he graced the Premier League between 2004 and 2009, firstly for Tottenham and then later Portsmouth. Along with Royston Drenthe, the unassuming French centre back was a regular for Hercules last season, as they were relegated to the Segunda. Now Pamarot turns out for the rather more sturdy Granada who are taking the top division by storm.
Another youngster with hope who failed to make it on these shores was Arsenal's Fran Merida, who is now being equally hopeless for Atletico Madrid
Pamarot is joined at the Andalucian side by another ex-Portsmouth cast-off in the shape of Hassan Yebda. Much like during his time at Pompey, the Algerian midfielder hasn't quite settled in yet, featuring mainly as a non-impact sub. Another pro who came and went through the Portsmouth revolving door was defender Dusko Tosic, now playing for Real Betis. Bizarrely, the
Serbian was never actually allowed to play for Portsmouth as the Premier League didn't allow him to register due to Pompey's being in administration at the time. Dusko is on loan from Red Star Belgrade and has appeared once for Betis this season in La Liga. Another former Prem star currently wearing the green and white of Betis is the rather better remembered Roque Santa Cruz. The Paraguayan striker is on loan from Man City as we all know, with tidy, if unspectacular figures of 4 goals in 14 games.
Another Man city reject on loan in La Liga is Slovak winger Valdimir Weiss who currently plays for Espanyol. The tiny wide man has been mainly used as a sub in the league and got a couple of useful assists as the Catalonian side push for a Champions League spot.
Talking of rejects, Chelsea's former full back Asier Del Horno is now doing very nicely with La Liga's surprise package, Levante. He's aregular starter for one of the meanest defences in the league. Del Horno won the league under Mourinho but was shipped back to Valencia following the arrival of Ashley Cole in 2006. Del Horno was joined at Levante by former Liverpool starlet Nabil El Zhar this summer. The busy forward hasn't quite hit the ground running having made 8 appearances without a goal or assist as yet.
Another Liverpool youth hanging around is U21 ace Dani Pacecho loitering on the sidelines on loan at Rayo Vallecano. The youth has managed 8 games and no goals for Rayo, and will struggle to get a game ahead of veteran striker Raul Tamudo. Another youngster with hope who failed to make it on these shores was Arsenal's Fran Merida, who is now being equally hopeless for Atletico Madrid, and has been farmed out to Portuguese outfit Braga on loan. His place in the Atletico midfield is occasionally occupied by ex-Chelsea man Tiago. Him of the Mourinho days and the super goal against Man Utd at Old Trafford.
But let's end on a note of hope with Julio Baptista. One of the more laughable Wenger signings during his time at Arsenal, The Beast has gone on to rediscover his old form and become a vital part of a hugely ambitious Malaga “project” which also features ex-prem legend Ruud Van Nistelrooy. Baptista arrived at Malaga via Real Madrid and Roma in January 2011 and had a storming second half of the season with 9 goals in eleven games capped by a rousing over-head kick in a 3-2 defeat over Getafe. Ruud by comparison is struggling to rediscover his glory days with just one goal so far. Hail to the Beast. (Of course, there are plenty of great former Prem legends now doing great in La Liga. These being: Freddy Kanoute, Jose Reyes, Mascherano, Pique, Fabregas, Xabi Alonso, Arbeloa, Carvalho, Diarra and Ronaldo. But they hardly deserve a mention.)
I think that's an exhaustive list of the ex-prem men in La Liga but if there's any you can think of, please do say!
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