The 2019-20 La Liga season gets underway on Friday and there are lots of new players to get acquainted with! We've had plenty of signings from other leagues, not to mention the three teams promoted from the Segunda Division.
Here's a quick look at nine new players I'm excited about, from a fantasy perspective:
Joao Felix, Atletico Madrid
He's only 19 years old, yet Felix was the most expensive signing of the summer in all of Europe, joining Atletico for 113 million pounds to replace Antoine Griezmann (who's moved over to Barcelona). That places a huge amount of pressure on a player with only one professional season under his belt, with Benfica in Portugal.
But it was a pretty darn good first season. Felix had 15 goals and seven assists in 26 league appearances, and three goals plus one assist in six Europa League appearances, for the Portuguese champions. And he's looked outstanding in the preseason, including a goal and an assist in a 3-0 win over the MLS All-Stars, and the same in a 2-1 victory over Juventus in the International Champions Cup on Saturday. Felix is already available as a Tier 1 forward -- that's the same tier as Lionel Messi, but Felix is still one to watch for sure.
Luka Jovic, Real Madrid
Jovic is also already available at Tier 1 forward, but you should definitely take a wait-and-see approach with him. He missed a chunk of the preseason due to injury, and did not start in Real Madrid's final preseason game, a 2-2 draw with Roma on Sunday. I doubt Jovic will start the league opener, at Celta Vigo, on Saturday.
However, there is reason to be excited about Jovic long-term. The 21-year-old Serbian had 17 goals and five assists in 32 Bundesliga appearances (25 starts) for Eintracht Frankfurt last season, and was even better in the Europa League, with 10 goals (and an assist) in 14 appearances.
Eden Hazard, Real Madrid
He finally got his dream move to Madrid, and Hazard is coming off an outstanding season in the Premier League. He scored 16 goals for Chelsea, led the league with 15 assists, and accumulated the most fantasy points in the league as well.
Hazard is one of three new players already available at Tier 1 midfielder, but it hasn't been a good preseason for him. He didn't score his first goal for his new club until a 1-0 win over Red Bull Salzburg last week. And Real Madrid have not looked good in general, either -- including an embarrassing 7-3 loss to Atletico Madrid in New Jersey.
Frenkie de Jong, Barcelona
The 22-year-old Dutchman became a star last season, along with several of his teammates, during Ajax's surprising run to the Champions League semifinals, before being knocked out by Tottenham. That got De Jong a big-money move to Barcelona, where he's expected to be a fixture in their midfield for many years to come. Here's the problem. De Jong is a very good player, but not in ways that typically lead to tons of fantasy points. He only had three goals and three assists in 31 Eredivisie appearances for Ajax last season, and didn't have a single goal or assist in 11 Champions League appearances. He'll probably rack up plenty of passes completed, and earn some points via defensive actions, but his fantasy upside is pretty limited.
Nabil Fekir, Real Betis
Fekir is the third new player available at Tier 1 midfielder, and his fantasy upside is far greater than De Jong's. He had nine goals and seven assists in 29 Ligue 1 appearances (24 starts) for Lyon last season, and three goals and two assists in six Champions League appearances. And he was even better the year before, with 18 goals and eight assists in 30 Ligue 1 appearances.
Fekir nearly moved to Liverpool after that outstanding 2017-18 season, but the deal fell through after his medical -- he tore an ACL back in 2015. Now he's joined a team that finished 10th in La Liga last year. But, if he's healthy, Fekir is a very exciting player fantasy-wise. He averaged 4.12 shots per 90 minutes last season -- among those who played at least 1,000 minutes in Ligue 1, only Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe averaged more (4.80).
Kieran Trippier, Atletico Madrid
It's pretty rare to see an English player move abroad from one of the big Premier League clubs, but that's what Trippier did this summer, going from Tottenham to Atletico Madrid. He's already available at Tier 1 defender, and will be one of the most interesting players to watch in La Liga this season.
Trippier is an attacking fullback, who had one goal and three assists in 27 Premier League appearances (26 starts) for Tottenham last season, and averaged close to two chances created per game. And playing with talented forwards like Felix, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata could net Trippier a bunch of assists. But he also has moved to a more conservative team -- Atletico Madrid finished second in La Liga last season, but they only scored 55 goals, 35 fewer than Barcelona. We'll have to wait and see how often Trippier is allowed to get forward and join up with the attack.
Eder Militao, Real Madrid
I mentioned Real Madrid's struggles in preseason already, and that doesn't just include scoring goals. They've also conceded 18 goals in seven matches, capped off by that 2-2 draw with Roma.
Miliato, a 21-year-old Brazilian signed from Porto in Portugal, started against Roma, but Sergio Ramos was out for this game. Also, manager Zinedine Zidane has been experimenting with playing three central defenders in recent preseason games, but it's unclear if he'll continue with that formation once the regular season begins. Militao and 24-year-old Frenchman Ferland Mendy, also signed for pretty big money from Lyon, are already available at Tier 1 defender. But Mendy is injured, and Real Madrid are a bit of a mess -- the only defender I'd consider picking right now is Ramos, because he was on penalties last season.
Martin Odegaard, Real Sociedad
Tier 3 midfielders aren't normally very exciting, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how Odegaard performs this season. The name may look familiar -- he was a teenage prodigy in Norway, leading to him being signed by Real Madrid in 2015, and becoming the youngest ever player to make his debut for the club at the end of that season, at age 16.
Last season he played on loan at Vitesse Arnhem in the Eredivisie, where he finished with nine goals and 12 assists in 35 appearances. This season he'll return to La Liga, on loan at Real Sociedad. Odegaard is still only 20 years old, and clearly a talented player who could make a big leap this year.
Juan Villar, Osasuna
The three clubs promoted to La Liga for this season are Osasuna, who won the Segunda Division with 87 points; Granada, who finished second with 79 points; and Mallorca, who finished fifth with 69 points but won the playoff. However, none of these teams scored a ton of goals last season. Osasuna scored 59 in 42 games, Granada finished with 52, and Mallorca with 53. By comparison, Norwich City -- the winners of the Championship, the English second division -- scored 93 goals in 46 games last season.
Villar had 12 goals and two assists in 29 appearances for Osasuna last season, and is available at Tier 2 forward. Lago Junior is also available in that tier, and he had 11 goals and eight assists for Mallorca last season -- although he made 15 more appearances than Villar, and played nearly 2,000 more minutes. And Granada is represented in this tier by former Tottenham forward Roberto Soldado, who had six goals and four assists in 21 appearances with Fenerbahce in Turkey last season. All three are players to keep an eye on, but it's risky to pick players from promoted teams until you see how they stack up against top-flight competition.