La Liga: New Signings That Could Make the Difference

Arda Turan (Getty Images)

La Liga, the Spanish football league's top division, is the league that attracts the top European and world talent at the moment, and is also home to Europe's current champion club, Barcelona, and its most successful, Real Madrid. But this season promises to be close, with many other sides making significant improvements to their squads. We look at some of the men who could make the difference, and who should affect your betting.

Arda Turan - Barcelona, €34m

Barcelona is just about the only club in the world that can win a La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble without looking entirely convincing doing so. There were time when the club looked like it was in crisis last season. Although Barca can rely on Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar to produce the goods in front of goal, there were issues in defence.

With Jeremy Mathieu not always trusted alongside Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano continues to get game-time out of his natural position, playing at centre-back. Aleix Vidal is a great signing, although either Luis Enrique will need to deviate from 4-3-3 to play him on the wing, or he will be an attacking right-back.

When a game needed locking-down last season, it was to the bench, and club stalwart Xavi, that the team looked. With the 35 year-old having moved to Qatar for a lot of money, what was needed was an experienced player who could both win the ball and keep possession ticking over, in the patented Barca style. Turan has been doing that at Atletico Madrid since 2011, and for Turkey since 2006.

The problem for Barca will not be Turan, but how to cover for him in his absence. The Catalan club is, officially, serving a 12-month transfer ban, meaning they and Turan have had to agree that he does not play until 1 January 2016. The 28 year-old has effectively signed a deal to sit out half the season, but when he comes back, he will bring the calm that Barca thrives on.

Top Bet: Ronald Koeman 7/2 to be Barcelona's next permanent manager

Yevhen Konoplyanka - Sevilla (undisclosed fee)

Sevilla had the chance to study Konoplyanka at close quarters last May when he played in the Europa League final for Dnipro against the Andalucian club. Sevilla won, and has signed the principal threat from that game. Konoplyanka is a two-footed winger who loves to take on defenders, cutting inside onto his right foot, and seems tailor-made for La Liga, where he will get the space to thrive, and will fit into Sevilla's pressing game.

Konoplyanka has shown he is ready to play at the highest level in his displays for Ukraine, and though it is unlikely Sevilla, who sold striker Carlos Bacca to Milan for €30m, will challenge for the league title, it's very much a possibility that it will win the Copa del Rey, and it will be a challenger for the Champions League slots. Konoplyanka, with his pace and ability to hit a pinpoint free kick, could elevate Sevilla to the next level.

Top Bet: Sevilla 15/8 with Bet365 to finish in the top four in La Liga

Jackson Martinez - Atletico Madrid, €30m

In recent seasons, Atletico Madrid has given its more illustrious city rival Real a run for its money in the summer transfer market. However, this summer came the sale of Mario Mandzukic, the Croatian striker who hit 12 goals for the club last season, to Juventus, who needed a replacement for Carlos Tevez.

Jackson Martinez is a fantastic purchase for Diego Simeone, whose Atletico teams have a tradition of strong number-nines to keep up. Falcao and Diego Costa both plundered goals for the team, the latter helping the club to the 2013/14 La Liga title under the noses of Barcelona and Real. A powerful, instinctive goal-poacher, Martinez scored a scarcely believable 67 goals in his 90 games for Portuguese side Porto, and has outshone Falcao for Colombia for some time.

With Barcelona stuck with the same squad as last season until January, and Real Madrid seemingly not treating a new striker as a priority unless Karim Benzema leaves, Martinez can really shake things up at the top of the table. If the rest of the Atletico team is as fired-up by Simeone's aggressive management style and gung-ho counter-attacking as was the case, then we could be looking at a good-value outside bet for a La Liga outright win.

Top Bets: Jackson Martinez 50/1 with Betfair to be La Liga top goalscorer; Atletico Madrid 20/1 with Ladbrokes to win La Liga

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