Despite the chance to build on last term’s 11th place finish and the opportunity to forget the misfortunes of former coach Quique Sanchez Flores, the 2018/19 La Liga season offers Espanyol no new optimism.
Even the announcement of new head coach Rubi, who guided Huesca into LaLiga for the first time in their history, breeds uncertainty.
His last two stabs in Spain’s top league have led to relegation, first with Levante in 2016 followed by the same outcome when he was at the helm of Sporting Gijon one year later.
Add the fact the Parakeets have lost three of their most valued players in Marc Navarro, Gerard Moreno and Aaron Martin, all for valuations less than their market price, Espanyol look to be a world away from where they were two-and-half years ago.
An opportunity missed
Yes, the sale of top-goal scorer of Gerard Moreno may have been unavoidable but to settle with Villarreall at 20 million euros seems foolish.
The Spaniard had a €40m release clause and having scored 19 goals in all competitions, surely a higher bid would have come.
Espanyol supporters can find some respite in the arrival of his replacement Borja Iglesias who netted 22 times last season for Real Zaragoza in the Segunda.
Squad down to bare bones
However, along with the departures of exciting left-back Martín to Mainz for an initial loan fee of €3m, with an option to make the move permanent for a further €9m and Navarro to Watford for a measly €2m, Rubi is left with a far weaker squad than when he first joined.
Even with the arrival of Sergi Darder from Lyon for €7.2m, Rubi appears to have no option but to use the loan market and to promote from within as Chinese billionaire owner Chen Yansheng seems reluctant to invest.
Since Yansheng took over in 2016, they have failed to progress on what was a superb first season under his reign.
The initial 8th place finish was followed by two seasons of stagnation as they were succumbed to mid-table.
Yet with no real long term plan in place and no real urgency to bolster the squad to the required depths needed to withstand the long haul of a La Liga season, Los Pericos look set on a campaign carbon-copy to the two before.
What to expect?
Expected Finish: 14th
Suprise Newcomer: Javi Puado –
Having been promoted from Espanyol B, the 20-year-old left winger has looked a good prospect in preseason. His pace and ability to take his marker on could provide Rubi another dimension.
Potential Loan signing: Theo Hernandez- Real Madrid
May seem far fetched but the central defender has been linked with a temporary move away to the Prenier League but Los Blancos may want to keep the 20-year-old closer to home and let him hone in on some La Liag experience.
Ins and outs
Arrivals: Borja Iglesias (€10m Celta de Vigo); Sergi Darder (€8m last season loan from Lyon made permanent) Roberto, GK (end of loan – returns from Malaga) Hernan Perez (end of loan – returns from Alaves); Alvaro Vazquez (end of loan – returns from Gimnástic de Tarragona)
Departures: Gerard Moreno, (€20m to Villarreal); Pau Lopez (free transfer, to Real Betis); Sergio Sánchez (end of loan – returned to Rubin Kazan); Carlos Sanchez (end of loan – returned to Fiorentina)