Leganes Season Preview: Can Leganes maintain top flight status? 
Martin Braithwaite will be vital for Leganes (Getty Images/NurPhoto)

Leganes Season Preview: Can Leganes maintain top flight status? 

Can Leganes continue to defy the odds?

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Campbell Finlayson

One of five Madrid clubs in La Liga last season, Leganes tended to go under the radar compared to their big-city neighbours Atlético and Real but enjoyed a respectable season.

Their cheap ticket prices and family deals, as well as giant cucumber mascot Super Pepino,  were the main reasons why people noticed Lega, but on the park, they did produce some entertaining football and a famous win over Barcelona.

Transfer Business Overview

No fewer than 11 loan players returned to their parent clubs since the end of the season although Jonathan Silva, Sabin Merino and Martin Braithwaite have since returned on permanent deals. Former Middlesbrough forward Braithwaite in particular impressed last season, scoring goals against both Barca and Real early after joining the club. He will hope to continue his exciting striker partnership with Youssef En-Nesyri who is still at the club despite reports linking him with a move away.

Exciting midfielders Fede Varela and Aitor Ruibal have joined from Porto and Real Betis (loan) respectively while goalkeeper Juan Soriano is in on loan from Sevilla and Juan Muñoz and Roberto Rosales are also in at Butarque.

Fede Vico and Nabil El Zhar are among those who have left while Ezequiel Muñoz has joined Lanus.

Manager: Mauricio Pellegrino

Pellegrino led Alaves to their first-ever Copa del Rey final in 2016 before moving to England with Southampton but after a disappointing spell in the Premier League, he returned to Spain with Leganes.

The side’s 13th place finish and journey to the last-16 of the cup was enough to persuade the board to hand him a new two-year deal. Another season like the last would do but the boss will be hoping his side can punch above their weight and head for the top half of La Liga.

Player to Watch: Martin Braithwaite

Striker Braithwaite has made his move to Los Pepineros permanent following a successful loan spell in the second half of last season.

In a side that had struggled to score, five goals and seven assists was a decent return for the Danish international and enough to see him earn a return to Madrid. Now, with a full season ahead of him, the forward will believe he can impress again and the Leganes fans will hope that is the case, as they aim to maintain their stay at Spain’s top table.

One for the Future: Vasyl Kravets

Moving from what you know in Ukraine to a new life in Spain can’t have been an easy decision for Vasyl Kravets, especially at the tender age of just 19, but there are signs that it could well pay off.

After two years in La Liga SmartBank with Lugo, Kravets moved to the capital with Lega in January, making six appearances in the Primera. This could be his year to nail down a place in the starting eleven and even if it doesn’t work out that way just yet, it may well do in the next few seasons.

Predicted Finish

Simply put, there are better teams than Leganes in La Liga, but there are also weaker teams and Leganes should have no fear. They made a poor start last season, but following their first win against Barcelona, they didn’t look back and finished in their highest ever 13th place.

Maintaining that level will be their aim for this season and it is likely to be around that area of the table where they will finish again.

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