Out of all the exciting projects happening in Spanish football at the moment, with Sevilla’s possible league-winning campaign, Villarreal’s Champions League investments and Celta Vigo’s Copa del Rey smash, I’d have to say my personal favourite is perhaps the hipster’s choice.
Las Palmas were promoted from the Segunda Division in 2015, and were in trouble from the start of their 2015/2016 league campaign, with only four wins after the first half of the season. By February, however, things began to click. The Gran Canaria side made a Leicester-like comeback and won 7 of their last 13 games which secured the team 11th place in the final table.
Los Amarillos managed to hold on to their key players in the summer despite interest from big clubs. Experienced goalkeeper Javi Varas was linked with several English clubs, star winger Jonathan Viera was rumoured to make a move to bigger Spanish clubs, and Mauricio Lemos was, according to safe sources, on his way to Barcelona a few days before the window closed. These moves fell through, which, combined with top quality signing Kevin-Prince Boateng from Schalke 04, made Las Palmas one of the teams to watch when the 2016/2017 season started.
The way the club is acting, both on and off the pitch, shows they’re not just some regular small club trying too hard. They show with their every move they’re here to stay, and I think they’re a club we’ll see in the Spanish top flight for a long time.
Las Palmas find themselves in the same place they finished last season, 11th, but there’s certainly a lot of opportunities to improve in the final half of the season. With just 7 points up to 6th placed Real Sociedad, the club is in the running for European football next year, and they’ve really given themselves the greatest possible chance of reaching that with a 10/10 transfer window. The loans of former Real Madrid winger Jesé Rodriguez from Paris Saint-Germain and Croatian mega talent Alen Halilovic from Hamburg have given the side just the right amount of creative edge they need in order to reach European football this fall.
Now, listen to this possible starting eleven. Javi Varas – Michel Macedo, Mauricio Lemos, Pedro Bigas, Helder Lopes – Roque Mesa, Vicente Gomez – Jonathan Viera, Alen Halilovic, Kevin-Prince Boateng – Jesé Rodriguez. This, with the likes of Nabil el Zhar, Marko Livaja and Momo right there filling in for the main men, sounds to me like a side ready to fight for European football.
Vamos Las Palmas!