Just when we thought his appetite for a deal had been sated after a summer of frantic activity, Mark Hughes returned to the transfer market once more to snap up the services of Esteban Granero from Real Madrid. The 25-year-old arrived just prior to the closure of the transfer window and has signed up on a four-year deal, for an undisclosed fee:
Amidst a dearth of new arrivals, the acquisition of Granero may prove to be one of Hughes’ canniest pieces of business over the last few months. The QPR boss was suitably delighted to welcome the Spaniard to his squad and clearly expects big things from “The Pirate”:
“He is a great player, first and foremost. You don’t play at a club like Real Madrid if you’re not. He has been there from the age of nine, so this has been a huge decision for him. He is very well regarded there and for him to leave a club of that stature to come to us shows the belief he has in what we are trying to do. He has got great energy and is technically very gifted, as you would expect from a Real Madrid player. He is very comfortable on the ball and is an all-round excellent midfielder, which we will benefit from.”
A product of the Real Madrid youth academy, Granero struggled to break into the first-team squad and was loaned out to Getafe for the 2007-08 season in order to gain top-flight experience. His campaign was a undoubted hit, with Granero helping his new side reach the quarter-finals of the Uefa Cup in addition to returning three goals and a couple of assists in La Liga. Madrid subsequently sold the midfielder to Getafe the following season, installing a buy-back option in his contract should Granero continue to flourish – 35 appearances, five goals and four assists later, his former club was convinced enough to shell out for his services in time for the 2009 campaign.
His return to Madrid proved frustrating once again, though, particularly under Jose Mourinho. While Granero featured 31 times for Manuel Pellegrini, returning three goals and four assists, The Special One’s arrival saw his game time reduced considerably. The midfielder made just 15 starts over his final two seasons, with 21 further appearances as a sub helping him grab a goal and five assists. Granero has featured for his country at every level from U16 to U21 but has yet to make the step up to the senior side.
While question marks still remain over a number of the summer signings, it’s unlikely that Granero has moved from the Bernabeu to be a bench-warmer in London. He seems set to be a key figure in the QPR midfield for the season ahead, with a central midfield berth looking likely – while he’s also known for his work-ethic, a role alongside an industrious ball-winner such as Samba Diakite or Alejandro Faurlin would complement his passing ability perfectly.
This could afford Hughes the chance to move Ji-Sung Park to the right flank though, alternatively, Granero is versatile enough to play behind a lone striker in a 4-4-1-1. Fantasy managers will be keeping a close eye on such a scenario, with the Spaniard’s consistency of performance and unselfish style of play maybe even edging him ahead of Adel Taarabt in Hughes’ thoughts further up the pitch.
Much will depend on how quickly QPR can settle this season. With a single point from their opening three matches, they are clearly a work in progress and investment in their Fantasy assets has been mainly put on hold until the new boys start to click; Granero – even with relatively kind prices of 5.5 and 6.5 in FPL and the Sky Sports game respectively – is likely to be monitored from afar in the meantime, then.
With showdowns against Chelsea and Spurs immediately on the horizon, the short-term potential seems limited, though a run of fixtures from Gameweek 6-12 looks highly promising. QPR square up to the likes of (WHM, wba, EVE, RDG, SOT) over that period and if Hughes’ side are to pick up in performance, Granero’s midfield scheming could well be integral to their chances of success.
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For Gameweek 38
- van Persie
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“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby