Home to historical towns, magnificent climates and food Andalusia is one of the most attractive regions in the whole of Spain. The autonomous Spanish community is also home to one of the fiercest derbies in the world, three footballing powerhouses and an impressively long list of players who have came out of the region.

Spanish football has always had a massive emphasis on youth and this region is no different; Real Betis, Malaga and particularly Sevilla have always realied heavily on youth. In recent times, Malaga have placed a huge importance on introducing younger players into their first team activites, which is more out of necessity than choice, but the benefits are already being felt in a financial sense. Since the removal of support from their Qatari owners, Malaga have made youth development one of their most important revenue streams. The departure of both Samu’s and Sergi Darder to Villarreal and Lyon respectively has signalled that the conveyor belt has finally stuttered into motion with the absence of a big financial backer. What is most impressive is that Javi Garcia and Malaga continue to improve despite their average age being particularly young.

Down the coast into the city of Seville both, Real Betis and Sevilla have been using youth as a fundamental part of their club policy and as such have been producing players for many years. However, despite their successful business model a criticism of Sevilla is that their current squad only boasts three players from Andalusia – a far cry from the teams that housed the likes of Sergio Ramos and Jesus Navas who went on to be sn integral part of Vicente Del Bosque’s European and World Cup winning teams. Their recent emphasis on buying in foreign players has limited the influence home grown players have had on the fortunes of the team. But the fans do not seem to have a care in the world as Unai Emery and his legion of foreign players are currently going through their most successful period. However, prodigal son Jose Antonio Reyes and goalkeeper Sergio Rico continue to fly the Andalusian flag at the Sanchez Pizjuain.

Betis, however, are seen as a club of the people and are completely apathetical of their bigger brothers across the city. Their recent relegation to La Segunda meant that foreign imports were shed in a bid to cut their wage bill. A situation that draws similarities with Malaga, although Los Boquerones (Anchovies) were never relegated. As such, Betis have 9 Andalusians in their squad of 23 inclusive of one of the most exciting prospects in Spanish football. Dani Ceballos actually began his player career as a Sevilla player, before they released him. Since then, the 19 year old has gone on to become an integral part of Spain’s U19 squad as well as one of the most important squad members in the full Betis side. A creative player, who relies heavily on pace and skill he is one of the most coveted players in Europe. Betis also produced one of the most exciting players Spanish football has produced in recent times, Joaquín, and despite his lengthy career doesn’t seem to have gained the plaudits he deserves.

Outside of of the three giants, Andalusians have made their mark on football all over Spain and as well as the rest of the World. Just above the coast of Portugal in Vigo, Nolito is proving to be particularly outstanding playing in the left-wing position for Celta and looks as though he may return to Barcelona where he failed to make the grade first time round. In London, former Real Betis goalkeeper Adrian, is playing a vital role in West Ham’s ascension to the top half of the Premier League.

Andalusia has produced so many footballers that you could make a team that could easily challenge teams across Europe. An all time selected XI would look something like this:

Adrian (West Ham); Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Fernando Hierro (Real Madrid) Carlos Marchena (Villarreal), Juantio (Betis); Isco (Real Madrid), Samu (Villarreal) Jose Antonio Reyes (Sevilla), Joaquín (Betis), Nolito (Celta Vigo); Jesus Navas (Manchester City).

About the Author – Ben Jarman

Freelance football writer with a penchant for Spanish and European football. Work published by Fulham FC, Italian FA and the Evening Standard.

Twitter: @sonikkicks


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As the glitz and glamour of the Barclays Premier League transfer window edges into it’s final week, excitement is at fever pitch as cash-laden clubs scour Europe for the next big money deal. Whilst Jim White is feverishly running around the Sky Sports News studio from one touch screen to another, the mood over in Spain is all the more calm. At the same time the English clubs have been jetting off on tours to the Middle East and Australia, Spanish clubs have been tying up deals to replace those who have set off for pastures new. One aspect of the game that La Liga can gain plaudits for is the extraordinary knack of finding players who can sell on for huge profit, or revitalising careers by using them in a unique way that their previous club hadn’t thought of. These next five signings should demonstrate those two points and more over the coming season.

Aleix Vidal: Sevilla FC – FC Barcelona

Vidal’s move from Sevilla to Barcelona is certainly a sense of deja-vu –

the narrative of Barcelona buying converted full-backs from Sevilla has been written twice before with Adriano and more famously Dani Alves. Vidal’s move has been overshadowed by the fact that the current Champions bought him under a transfer ban, which means that he cannot feature in a competitive match until January. Due to this many have failed to spot what Vidal can actually bring to the table. An absolute workhorse down the right hand side, he can often be spotted blistering past the winger on an overlap where his magnificent crossing ability can be put to use. His new coach Luis Enrique is a fitness fanatic, and Vidal’s massive stamina will fit with Barcelona’s high-pressure ethos. Vidal is a humble player, whose rise from Almeria to Barcelona has been nothing short of magnificent and his flexibility gives Enrique the opportunity to mould him into the player he wants. Surely bought to cover the right-back slot when Alves hands the baton over, and is more than capable of doing so as his Spain call up over the summer suggests.

Roberto Soldado: Tottenham Hotspur – Villarreal CF

A familiar name for La Liga watchers returns as the ex-Valencia top-scorer joins provincial rivals Villarreal on a long term deal. Roberto Soldado certainly has the pedigree needed to send El Submarino to the next level after a season which secured European football at El Madrigal once again. After two disappointing years with Tottenham Hotspur, Soldado will be keen to exercise the memories of his time in London in which he became nothing more than the butt of jokes as he failed to settle. Primarily used as a lone-striker, his return to Spain will see him link up with Leo Baptistao or fellow new boy Cedric Bukambu as part of a two. Villarreal scored 48 goals last year, 23 behind Sevilla who finished 16 points clear of them. They will hope that the return of Soldado will go someway to closing that gap, and his impressive debut goal in the 1-1 draw with Real Betis suggests that Soldado is ready to fire on all cylinders.

Michael Krohn-Dehli: Celta de Vigo to Sevilla FC

The Danish central midfielder arrives on a free transfer from Celta Vigo and may prove to be a superb acquisition over the course of the season. Although he was the key creative hub for Celta last season, his role within the team was often overshadowed by wingers Nolito and Orellana. However, his contributions were invaluable as the Galician’s recorded an 8th place finish – their highest since their return to the top flight in 2011 – as he provided 5 assists and created a total of 69 goal scoring opportunities for the team. At 32 years old and behind some serious quality at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Krohn-Dehli may find it hard to make his mark full-time, but will make an impact over the course of the season as his attacking guile allows him to find space in opposition defences. His vision is second to none, and will provide a key option should Unai Emery need more attacking presence next to Ever Banega.

Samu Castillejo: Malaga CF – Villarreal CF

One of two Samu’s who left Malaga to join the yellow submarine of Villarreal this summer, which also demonstrates how well the Valencian outfit have bought after the departures of Giovani Dos Santos and Ike Uche. Castillejo burst onto the scene 18 months ago in a Malaga side that was full to the brim of home-grown talent. Since then, his development has been rapid and he has gained plaudits equally as quickly. At 20 years old, Samu is one of the most exciting talents at under-21 level, playing primarily as a winger he possesses fantastic pace with footwork to match. His ability to create chances from wide positions will certainly be an upgrade on an area that was lacking last year. Whilst work is needed on his final ball and decision making, this acquisition is certainly a strong one which will certainly have economical benefits in the future as big clubs across Europe already start to hover.

Raul Albentosa: Derby County – Malaga CF

The lanky central defender will be best remembered for his outstanding performances for the smallest club in La Liga last season. The former Eibar central defender joins Malaga on loan from Derby County for the season with the view of reviving his career after a slight lull in the British Midlands. Albentosa is certainly an upgrade on the outgoing Sergio Sanchez, and Malaga will be pleased to have secured his signature. The primary stages of his La Liga career were certainly positive with a series of assured performances for a club that many wrote off before they played their first game. It was clear to see that after the loss of Albentosa, Eibar struggled defensively – his return to La Liga will certainly add to an exciting Malaga squad.

About the Author – Ben Jarman

Freelance football writer with a penchant for Spanish and European football. Work published by Fulham FC, Italian FA and the Evening Standard.



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