Celta de Vigo Season Preview: Can Celta avoid another relegation battle? 
Iago Aspas gets away from Thomas Vermaelen (Getty Images/Octavio Passos)

Celta de Vigo Season Preview: Can Celta avoid another relegation battle? 

Celta had a poor campaign last season and will be looking to push up the table instead of being caught in another struggle for survival

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Gerry Johnston

Celta will be disappointed with last season having finished 17th in La Liga. However, for a long time, it looked like they wouldn't even finish that high and would be joining their Galician rivals, Deportivo La Coruna in the Segunda. They managed to force themselves out of trouble though and they will be keen to push themselves forward this season.

Transfer Business Overview

It was a busy summer in Vigo with Celta bringing in four new players and getting rid of nine. 

The key signings include Denis Suarez from Barcelona for €12.9 million and Joseph Aidoo from Genk for €8 million. Suarez can play centre-midfield or on either wing while Aidoo is a 23-year-old centre back who has been capped by Ghana

Another important signing is the return of Santi Mina to the club from Valencia. Mina is only 23 years old and arrives at Balaidos with Jorge Saenz, also of Valencia, who has signed on loan. 

Unfortunately for Celta, Mina's arrival came as part of a deal that saw Maxi Gomez depart for Valencia with Celta getting Mina and around €14.5 million for the striker. 

Other departures include Emre Mor and Roberto Mazon on loan while Matthias Jensen, Andrew Hjulsager, Facundo Roncaglia, Gustavo Cabral, Nemanja Radoja and Dennis Eckert have also left the club.

Manager

Fran Escriba arrived in Vigo in March 2019 and just about managed to keep the team in La Liga. 

Escriba never played professionally but was once at Valencia as a youth team player. His managerial career began in 2002, back in the youth team of Valencia. He worked his way up to join Quique Sanchez Flores at Getafe, Valencia, Benfica and Atletico Madrid as an assistant manager. 

Finally, Escriba decided to go into management himself and got his first senior job with Elche, leading them to the top flight in his first season. He later had spells in charge of Getafe and Villarreal before he got his current job. 

Escriba helped Celta to 16 points from their final 12 games last season which helped secure their place in La Liga but he will be looking for and expecting more from his players this season. 

Player to Watch

Celta has some talented individuals at the club and have added two more in Denis Suarez and Santi Mina but there's no doubt that the main man is club legend, Iago Aspas

Premier League fans will remember Aspas for an unsuccessful spell at Liverpool but either side of that are two excellent stints at his beloved Celta. In his first spell at the club, he scored over 60 goals in all competitions which attracted the interest of Liverpool in the first place.

Since returning to Celta in 2015 he has netted over 90 goals at an average of better than a goal every other game and in his last three La Liga seasons he has scored 19, 22 and 20 goals. Last seasons 20 goal haul was all the more impressive as he was injured and done it in just 27 games so it is clear that without him, Celta would have gone down.

Aspas is 32 years old now but there is little evidence that he is slowing down based on last season and he will be vital as Celta look to improve on the disappointment of last season. 

One for the Future 

Celta aren't a side that possesses a lot of young players in their squad and at present, the only real candidate for this is Fran Beltran and despite being 20 years old, he is already established in the first team. 

Beltran began his career with Rayo Vallecano before Celta spent €8 million to bring him to Balaidos last summer. He broke into the team straight away and made over 30 appearances.

However, he struggled after the arrival of Escriba in March. It's possible that Escriba wanted to face the relegation battle with experienced players but the fact is Beltran sent a lot more time on the bench than on the pitch after his arrival so it looks like he will have to reestablish himself all over again. 

Predicted Finish

Celta underperformed last season and should not be in a relegation battle. How far they can go is open for debate. The most likely outcome is a safe, solid midtable finish that won't see them in trouble but they also don't look like a side that will qualify for Europe. The best possible scenario is that they can push for seventh or get a good cup run but it's more probable that they will fall short of a place in Europe next season. 

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