The 2018/19 season has marked another big year for international players in LaLiga Santander. More than 200 international players formed part of the 20 top-tier clubs, representing more than 50 different nationalities.
450 goals were scored by players from outside Spain this LaLiga Santander season, which means 45% of all (983) goals scored were by international players.
The season’s top three goalscorers were all international stars: Argentina’s legendary Lionel Messi, Uruguay’s Luis Suárez and France’s Karim Benzema.
Argentinians certainly left their mark on the season; An impressive total of 29 Argentinians appeared in LaLiga Santander squads, and 102 goals were scored by Argentines. LaLiga’s most famous international, Lionel Messi, banged in an astonishing 36 goals and accumulated 13 assists – an amazing figure, but hardly shocking given what we’ve seen him achieve over the years.
The season also saw the emergence of a newer Argentine striker, Ezequiel ‘Chimy’ Ávila, who burst onto the scene and netted ten goals, most of them jaw-droppers which earnt him a reputation as a golazos specialist. In Seville, Real Betis signed their own Argentine, Giovani Lo Celso, a player with ‘future star’ written all over him. Lo Celso scored nine goals and assited five times in 32 appearances at the young age of 23.
There was no shortage of French goalscorers in the 2019/20 season, with Benzema, Ben Yedder and Antoine Griezmann netting 44 between them. Sevilla FC’s Wissam Ben Yedder had an especially good season, collecting an impressive nine assists to go with his 18 goals, while Barcelona’s French winger Ousmane Dembélé managed eight goals and five assists in only 29 appearances for the Culés.
Players from the sub-Saharan Africa also had a strong year in LaLiga Santander. Atletico Madrid fans came to know Thomas Partey as a lover of long-range strikes – his equaliser at the Wanda in November against Athletic Club being a perfect example. Villarreal’s Nigerian Samuel Chukwueze also had an exciting season, impressing fans with stirring dribbles and other eye-catching technical skills.
From North Africa, Celta’s Moroccan Soufiane Boufal beat out Lionel Messi to become the player with the most dribbles to his name for the 2018/19 season, achieving a remarkable 143 successful dribbles to Messi’s 133. From Algeria, Real Betis’ centre-back Aissa Mandi finished the season with 2390 successful passes, the sixth best total in the league.
The 2018/19 season also marked the arrival of Brazilian Vinicius Junior, perhaps Real Madrid’s most exciting young talent. At just 18 years of age, Vinicius already has a LaLiga goal and two assists to his name at one of the league’s biggest clubs.
But the Brazilian with the most impact this season was Charles Dias de Oliveira, scoring 14 goals – making him the highest Brazilian goalscorer in Europe’s top five leagues – and he did so at the age of 35.