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Feb 2, 2018



"Palmeiras x Atlético Mineiro - 2017" (CC BY 2.0) by Roberto Sabino


FC Barcelona’s January transfer window recruit Yerry Mina comes straight over to Spain from South America. At 23, he is still learning the game and there’s no better place to do that than the Camp Nou, but Mina must hit the ground running due to the departure of Javier Mascherano to China and cover being thin.


As one of Argentina’s most capped players and because he won 17 trophies during his time in Catalonia, Mascherano leaves some big shoes to fill in the heart of the Barca backline. He is not the only La Liga great from South America that young Mina will want in time to emulate either.


Do you remember these great central defenders from across the Atlantic playing in Spain?



Roberto Ayala (Argentina and Valencia)

Mascherano is one of many great Argentine footballers to have graced La Liga. Another from the previous generation is Valencia legend Roberto Ayala. Brought to the Mestalla by compatriot coach Hector Cuper from AC Milan in the summer of 2000, Ayala’s first season in Spain saw Los Che reach a second successive Champions League final, losing to Bayern Munich on penalties.


Nicknamed ‘The Mouse’, Ayala was anything but on the pitch and continued to serve Valencia with distinction under Rafa Benitez. He marshalled a Bats defence that won two La Liga titles and did a UEFA Cup double in 2004.


Edmilson (Brazil and Barcelona)


Mina can play in front of the defence as well in the heart of it and Barca predecessor Edmilson was also adept at both roles. A 2002 World Cup winner with Brazil, he started the final when the Samba Boys beat Germany 2-0.


Edmilson also ended Barcelona’s 14-year wait for Champions League glory in 2006 after signing from French Ligue 1 outfit Lyon two years earlier. He also lifted two La Liga titles like Ayala, but Mina will hope to fare better at the Camp Nou with injuries.


Diego Godin (Uruguay and Atletico Madrid)




""Uruguay 4 - Chile 0 | 111111-3441-jikatu" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by jikatu


One current La Liga defensive star Mina must have his eye on is Uruguay captain Diego Godin. Although he began life in Spain with Villarreal, he shot to fame with Atletico Madrid – the other big rivals of Barca’s El Clasico opponents Real Madrid – and when winning the 2011 Copa America on international duty.


Godin, who has mastered the dark arts of defending, is a Liga winner too from 2014, but also has Copa del Rey and Europa League winners’ medals. Like Barcelona, he has just cause to dislike Real as Los Blancos twice denied Atleti sides containing Godin Champions League glory.


Luis Perea (Colombia and Atletico Madrid)


And finally, Mina’s compatriot Luis Perea spent eight years with Atletico during which he helped them to Intertoto Cup, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup successes. While he enjoyed trophies in continental competitions, they eluded on the domestic Spanish scene.


Mina can probably expect better as he’s playing for Barca and they are strong favourites in the La Liga betting. He has some way to go still to fulfil his potential and surpass Perea’s haul of 72 Colombia caps.


Have your say on great La Liga defenders in the comments section below.

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