Spain's La Liga starts this weekend after a hectic summer during which clubs loaded up on international stars signed from foreign teams. The moves confirmed La Liga's status as the best league in the
world. Here's a look at moves by the principal contenders: BARCELONA.
The champions spent almost $40 million on new talent. Barca picked up
Frenchman Lilian Thuram
and Italian Gianluca Zambrotta
, two of the best defenders at the 2006 World Cup, from Juventus
in the wake of the Italian club's relegation to Serie B. Icelandic forward Eidur Gudjohnsen,
signed from Chelsea, adds depth to the attack. REAL MADRID.
Under new president Ramon Calderon
, it spent more than $100 million on players. The acquisitions included
Italian World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro
from Juventus and Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy
United. The key additions may be a pair of defensive midfielders, Malian Mahamadou Diarra
and Brazilian Emerson
acquired from Lyon and Juventus, respectively. VALENCIA.
Picked to challenge Barca and Real Madrid, Valencia signed striker Fernando Morientes
from Liverpool, midfielder Joaquin
from Real Betis and defender Asier
from Chelsea. Spain World Cup striker David Villa
returns from a loan spell at Celta. ATLETICO MADRID.
Signed Argentine striker Sergio Aguero
for $28 million from Argentina's Independiente, making him soccer's most
expensive 17-year-old ever. SEVILLA.
The 2006 UEFA Cup champion signed Schalke's Danish midfielder, Christian Poulsen
, German defender Andreas Hinkel
from Stuttgart and Monaco's Uruguayan striker, Javier
The surprise 2006 Champions League semifinalist signed veteran Frenchman Robert
from Arsenal, but he and central defender Gonzalo Rodriguez
both tore cruciate knee ligaments in preseason games.