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La Liga feature: Gavi, Benzema set new benchmark

Gavi

Bengaluru, October 12: The October international break meant there was no La Liga football in the week that went by.

However, from early season coaching changes to high-profile contract renewals, the top flight of Spanish football still threw up lots of big news stories.

At 17 years and 62 days, Barcelona's Gavi became the youngest-ever debutant for the Spanish national team when he started the Nations League semifinal against Italy last week.

The teenager put in an excellent performance, before keeping his place in the starting line-up for Sunday's final and once again standing out in La Roja's midfield. Undoubtedly, a future star.

France Football last week announced the 30 candidates to win the 2021 Ballon d'Or and there are five La Liga players in contention.

Karim Benzema and Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid), Gerard Moreno (Villarreal ) and Barcelona's teenage sensation Pedri have all been nominated, while Lionel Messi is also a leading candidate thanks in large part to his performances while he was a Barcelona player.

Here is all you need to know about what was happening in La Liga during the international break.

Double delight for Benzema

Double delight for Benzema

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema has been named the La Liga Player of the Month for September. Benzema took home the first prize of the 2021-22 season after netting six goals in just four appearances in the month, earning him this honour for the fourth time in his career.

It was double delight for Benzema as his strikes helped France beat Spain 2-1 to clinch the UEFA Nations League. In a fascinating final held at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, Real Sociedad's Mikel Oyarzabal opened the scoring for La Roja only to see his side immediately pegged back by a super strike from Benzema. Kylian Mbappe went on to score the winner for a side that also contained Atletico's Madrid's Antoine Griezmann and Sevilla's Jules Kounde.

Defensive reinforcements for Villarreal

Defensive reinforcements for Villarreal

The transfer window may have been closed for several weeks, but free agent acquisitions are still an option. Villarreal have made the mot of this option, bringing in former PSG and Tottenham right-back Serge Aurier.

The Ivory Coast captain will boost the defensive options available to coach Unai Emery as the Yellow Submarine compete on all fronts in 2021-22.

Correia extends stay at Valencia

Correia extends stay at Valencia

The international break saw a lot of contract extensions with Valencia's Thierry Correia, signing a new five-year deal. The right-back has had a good start to the new season and has signed a deal that will run until 2026. That is a lengthy commitment between two parties who see a bright future ahead.

Elsewher, Oscar Valentin has been a key part of Rayo Vallecano's impressive start to the 2021-22 season, signed a new contract with the capital city club, with his new deal running until 2025. After working hard to make it to the top tier, Valentin has fit in perfectly in La Liga and will keep fighting to keep Rayo in Spain's top flight.

Change of coaches

Change of coaches

Getafe have found a replacement for outgoing coach Michel, with Quique Sanchez Flores returning to the club he previously coached in 2004-05 and in 2014-15. The Spaniard will be hoping it is third time lucky at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez as he looks to pull the Azulones off the bottom of the table and to safety.

Another club looking for a new coach during the international break was Levante and they too have found their man, with Javier Pereira hired to the end of the season with the option for an automatic renewal if relegation is avoided. Pereira was most recently coaching Henan Songshan Longmen in China, and knows Levante well having been an assistant coach at the club in the past.

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Story first published: Tuesday, October 12, 2021, 9:28 [IST]
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