“When a team signs nine or ten players, if a minimum of five works, it is already a success.” It was the phrase that Pepe Mel uttered when he was questioned a couple of weeks ago by Pietro Iemmello, one of the new faces of UD Las Palmas 2020-21. He came to say, without saying it, that the Italian has been below expectations, because then, in addition, he pronounced the names of the incorporations with which he was happy. After the first third of the championship, by numbers and sensations, the balance of the ten signings under the sports direction of Luis Helguera is more positive than negative, but it also leaves a series of doubts and disappointments.
With 1,093 minutes, only surpassed as a field player by Álex Suárez –1,210– the Santander is the best signing of the UD. He was on loan until the end of 2021 by Charlotte, from the United States League, because the new club could not finally be registered due to the effects of the pandemic. He has been a fixture for Pepe Mel until he was injured last Wednesday in the clash against Mirandés – he will return in January. It is the extension of the technician in the field. He has played both as a pivot and inside, and he always showed his good ball handling, his soul as a leader and, also, his scoring ability – he added two.
The one from Alcuéscar –Extremadura–, loaned by Real Betis until the end of the course, is another of the indisputable for Mel. He only rested in the Albacete clash and won the position of extreme right from the beginning, although with freedom to move towards the center. Provides speed, overflow, back work and goal. With the two on Sunday against Sporting he already has four, the same as Araujo. In addition, he has shown intelligence to function in the area like few others.
Jesús Crespo ‘Pejiño’.
The Barbateño was also one of the fixed in the coach’s eleven until he broke his hamstring after the clash against Cartagena and twisted his ankle later in training, which has delayed his return. With Rober he formed a great pair of extremes: both defended the same way they attacked, pressed up and generated danger. The team longs for his return – scheduled for tomorrow. He has scored a goal.
Although irregular, the French, owned by the UD like Pejiño, has left more lights than shadows. He has quality, he handles the ball well and enjoys a good shot, however, his impact on the game fluctuates: he appears and disappears. After resting last Wednesday, he was a substitute again and came out in the second half to play his best game as yellow.
His return from a broken toe operation is scheduled for January, which will be good news for Mel. Because the man from Cáceres is a versatile, compliant winger who won ownership when his role when he arrived after finishing his contract with Extremadura was as a substitute. In two of the three matches he played he acted on the left, and when he did so in his natural position, against Logroñés, he broke. It stands out, above all, for its delivery.
Little by little, as it takes on the physical tone, it improves its performance. He started late because he arrived on loan from Almería at the last moment and shortly after arriving he had an incident with his partner – he was arrested for sexist violence and then he was released without charges because there were no complaints – which further delayed his set-up. After playing two games during the week, he earned the spot. He lacks games to confirm the good feelings both offensive and defensive.
He does not end up exploiting or having his place in the UD starting team after ending his link with Atlético de Madrid, but when he appears, something leaves. His best match was against Sporting last Sunday, in the second half, like the rest. One of his best virtues is that he always has the opposing goal in his head, but he lacks clarity, apparently in the six games in which he participated, he performs better on the left than in the playmaker, his natural position.
A fiasco. The UD waited to incorporate the Italian until the last day of the summer market from Benevento – granted – and the result has been disastrous. He has not scored a single goal and, what is worse, he has had almost no chances to score. As if that were not enough, Pepe Mel does not like it because he is apathetic in training and does not press the ball out of the rivals. That is why he has only participated in six games, only two as a starter, in which he has not left any trace of his presence.
The yellow entity paid Godoy Cruz for his assignment to be the leader of the defense, however, at the moment it is a failure. And not because of the muscle injury he suffered several weeks ago and which still prevents him from playing today – he is scheduled to return in a couple of days. From the first moment the coach regretted that the Argentine lacked much adaptation to European football, especially in terms of rhythm. It only appeared on days three, seven and nine. It is still expected.
He hasn’t even debuted. Pepe Mel announced a few days before the closing of the summer market that he had ordered the club to make a professional record for the international Gran Canaria for Kenya, who had been with the subsidiary for several seasons and had just finished his contract. However, the reality is that it was the emergency solution to the club’s refusal to incorporate a new center-back, and perhaps that is why he is the only professional – he has number 13, usually reserved for a goalkeeper – who has not yet played a single minute. Although he has not been available on occasion due to commitments with his national team and due to an injury, the coach has had time to include him.
Other new faces.
In addition to the ten incorporations, there are four other new players in the UD compared to last year. They are Edu Espiau and Christian Rivera, who returned from their respective assignments to Villarreal B, and Leganés and Girona, respectively – Araujo and Maikel were also out of the half year -, and Álex Domínguez and Clau Mendes, uploaded from the subsidiary and in the dynamics of the first team since the preseason. Of them, only Chino stood out until three muscular injuries weighed him down.