Spending constrained by debt as La Liga stands still on deadline day

The first is that there are only two teams who are in contention for the title; there is not the same type of race to the top that exists in both Italy and England at the moment, where up to six clubs can realistically compete, or are expected to challenge, for the title.

Indeed, of the £300 million spend by clubs in La Liga, roughly a third came from the pockets of Barcelona and Real Madrid, showing their dominance.

And secondly, club finances in La Liga are atrocious. Half of the teams in the league are under bankruptcy protection, and six sides in administration, including the three promoted teams from last year. And the bigger sides, such as Valencia, are also in major financial trouble.

But there was one team bidding to keep the drama alive in Spain, and that was Atletico Madrid. Having sold David de Gea and Sergio Aguero, much work was needed to be done, though they had already signed Falcao from Porto. Diego Forlan left for Inter Milan, but in came Diego on loan. The Brazilian was out of favour at Wolfsburg after his antics last year under Steve McClaren, where he deliberately ignored the Englishman’s orders and was subsequently suspended from playing for the club temporarily.

Diego Ribas was also signed as Atletico look to challenge to reach the Champions League again, but it was still a fairly minor transfer splurge by English standards, with the Spanish side another in significant debt.

Other players on the move included Helder Postiga, the nomadic forward who left his homeland and Sporting Lisbon for Real Zaragoza, one of those sides in administration.

The relegation candidates also picked up Luis Garcia from Espanyol as they look to spend to survive, which says so much about La Liga. Spending to survive and compete is what has led the league to the position it is in, and an increasing number of observers are suggesting that the league’s problems must be addressed if it is to survive.

Also on the move on deadline day was Jonathan de Guzman, who went to Villarreal for champions League football, whilst Walter Pandiani went to Espanyol. But for Spain, spending on transfers was heavily restricted. It was a time for reflection, rather than excess.