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Comparing my thoughts on Rayo's squad with 3 and 8 weeks ago: A lesson on premature fears (6th September, 2017)

More than three weeks ago, I did a piece on my thoughts on Rayo's current squad, and I spoke about the dire need for reinforcements.

Well, now that the transfer window has concluded, here is what I said then, compared to my thoughts now...

Goalkeepers
Then:

Alberto García (loan), Toño

Adequate? Not sure, given Toño's injury problems, but Lucho from Rayo B seems like optimal backup if truly necessary.

Now:

Alberto García (loan), Toño, Mario Fernández

Seems like Toño is still not ready for action - which means perhaps a signing was probably necessary. Mario Fernández from Osasuna will be a decent backup.

Center-backs

Then:

Antonio Amaya, Zé Castro, José Antonio Dorado

Definitely understaffed here - one more center-back might be needed, even if Kike from the B team did well in preseason.

Now:

Antonio Amaya, José Antonio Dorado, Emiliano Velázquez (loan), Abdoulaye Ba, Nacho Monsalve (loaned to Recreativo)

So apparently Zé Castro wasn't even part of the team - in my defense, the club didn't announce anything regarding his situation. Nevertheless, Rayo have brought in a defender with a lot of upside and promise, and then there's Abdoulaye Ba who might have been one of Rayo's most inconsistent players - and inconsistent is a very generous word. As always though, I hope that he succeeds at the club - the long season ahead might very well require the team to depend on him.

But what's more interesting is that Rayo have brought in reinforcements for the future too - Nacho Monsalve refused a Deportivo contract extension to sign for Rayo. Naturally, this news was announced by Recreativo.


Left-backs

Then:

Álex Moreno, Sergio Akieme, Johan Mojica*, Răzvan Raț**,
*Has permission to negotiate an exit, reportedly will be a Girona player
**Had permission to negotiate an exit, but is now training with the club but reportedly is still searching for a way out

Think we should be fine here.

Now:

Álex Moreno, Sergio Akieme, Răzvan Raț*, Javi Noblejas (loaned to Córdoba)
*Had permission to negotiate an exit, but is now training with the club but reportedly is still searching for a way out. This situation is so confusing - particularly because he doesn't seem to have a shirt number:




Reports turned out to be accurate on this one - Mojica left for Girona on loan. Goodness knows what's happening with Răzvan Raț, a player with over a 100 caps for Romania yet seemingly unwanted by everyone, including other clubs. And yet in Javi Noblejas, once again, Rayo have signed a player for the future, a left-back who isn't the quickest but is defensively sound and is strong - a trait that historically Rayo hasn't had much of.

Right-backs

Then:

Ernesto Galán


Four left-backs and just one right-back sums up how Rayo do business really. Definitely need a back-up here.

Now:

Ernesto Galán, Baiano

This transfer didn't happen until just after the window shut, but Baiano is more than just a back-up.

Ernesto Galán knows that he has serious competition.

Midfielders

Then:

Central: Fran Beltrán, Roberto Trashorras, Francisco Cerro, Unai López (loan)
Attacking: Óscar Trejo, Alejandro "Chori" Domínguez, Santi Comesaña

Genuinely happy with Unai López as a signing - gives the central midfield plenty of options.

As for attacking midfield - I'm not sure how impactful Chori will be in attacking midfield - think a January signing there and/or a Joni Montiel promotion might be necessary.

Now:

Central: Fran Beltrán, Roberto Trashorras, Francisco Cerro, Unai López (loan)
Attacking: Óscar Trejo, Alejandro "Chori" Domínguez, Santi Comesaña

I never thought I'd say this, but Fran may desperately need a backup. Francisco Cerro, who hasn't played yet, is perhaps the only one else who can play as a destroyer. So if Cerro doesn't work out, then Rayo have work to do....

As for going forward, it is clear that Santi Comesaña and Óscar Trejo have locked that spot down.

Wingers

Then:

Diego Aguirre, Lass Bangoura, Adrián Embarba

Genuinely impressed with Aguirre in preseason - composed finisher and pacey too. But definitely more reinforcements here are necessary.

Now:

Diego Aguirre, Lass Bangoura, Adrián Embarba

Still think one more winger might be needed, but given how high up the pitch Álex Moreno is playing these days I think we'll be fine.

Strikers

Then:

Javi Guerra

Definitely need another striker unless we are switching to using Óscar Trejo as a false nine permanently.

Now:

Javi Guerra, Raúl de Tomás (loan)

Wow. Just wow.

Our sporting director is David Cobeño, a goalkeeper who retired in 2016, immediately became director of football and then sporting director this season - and only because Ramón Planes resigned after saying he wouldn't. And David pulled off the signing of a striker who last season, on loan at Real Valladolid, scored 14 goals in 36 games. A striker who, throughout this summer, said that if he signed with a team in the Segunda it would be Real Valladolid.

Wow. And then you consider that Trejo has played both as a false nine and as a number 10 behind the striker so far, and suddenly the options at Rayo's disposal look limitless...

Conclusions

Then, I said that "if preseason is anything to go by [tactically]...Rayo have little more than 18 days to sort out everything other than the midfield in the 4-3-3"

And not only did Rayo make significant additions in the window, they brought in two players for the future - both of them were in defense, which suggests that Dorado and Amaya will be phased out sooner rather than later.

And that's good news. Until now, the plan was always to replace the players that left every season with a season-long loanee - a vicious cycle that was always going to backfire at some point. At least now, there is a long-term plan for the future.

But it's more than that. It's the fact that new signings like Trejo and Chori love the club - they have always been grateful to the club for rebuilding their careers years ago. More than the nostalgia, there is a different level of commitment and feeling that a player gives the Rayo shirt what he believes in it. Then there's players like Baiano, who, like Ernesto Galán, might turn out to be an underrated signing. Mario Fernández might be a backup now but may end up being a long-term acquisition as he is now entering his prime at 29.

And Raúl de Tomás - who I can't wait to see play.

If Rayo can avoid injuries to their wingers (and sort out Răzvan Raț's situation?) this could be an amazing season.



And now, compare that with what I said eight weeks ago:

"I've always been calm and composed about transfer windows - even when the squad had no first team players I was confident that replacements are available. This is the first year where I've been genuinely scared - the club still needs to balance the books, the team has lost La Liga quality players and replacements are going to be hard to find since other clubs have been doing business quickly and efficiently. Promotion seems to be a distant dream right now - in fact, I'd say relegation is very possible."

That was just eight weeks ago.

Hindsight is always a funny thing when things turn out to be profoundly different from expectation. But what's funnier is hope and optimism for the future doesn't come from external events - it comes from within.

It's too easy to scrounge for news and rumors. It's too easy to latch onto the food chain of negativity and knee-jerk opinions that feeds our world view.

But it's harder to critically analyze, and be patient, and hope, and trust. Trust that other people, yes, even those in this Rayo board, are doing their jobs. Trust that other people have good motives, that - just like us - they want the best for the institutions they serve. It doesn't absolve them of criticism - if anything, it enhances that criticism. It doesn't absolve them of responsibility - if anything, it places a burden of proof.

And it gives us strength even when things look grim. Especially then.

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