Real Madrid confirmed the signing of Colombian World Cup star James Rodriguez from Monaco this week, forming a terrifying quartet at the Bernabeu.
The World Cup's top goalscorer is on the move again, just one year after his €45m switch from Porto to Monaco. The 23-year-old joins Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid for a fee believed to be in the region of €80m – almost twice what Monaco paid for him just 12 months ago – to team up with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema in attack.
Real may have won the Champions League last season, but they finished third in La Liga and the signing of Rodriguez will no doubt go some way to trying to usurp rivals Atletico Madrid and Barcleona. Of course, the latter is the big priority for Real, as Luis Enrique's side should improve from last season's showing under Gerardo Martino.
Both clubs have spent masses of money already this summer, but which team will have the better attack?
Andres Iniesta vs James Rodriguez
Iniesta has never been a prolific player, but his influence on the Barca team is undoubted. His silky dribbling, superb passing and excellent vision have made him a mainstay of both the Barcelona and Spanish national teams in recent years. Often played out on the left hand side, Luis Enrique could choose to play a 4-2-3-1 system, which would see Iniesta play more centrally – where he prefers to be.
That will almost certainly be where Rodriguez plays too, and whilst there is plenty of excitement around the Colombian after his World Cup exploits, there is a peculiar stat surrounding him. In 34 appearances for Monaco last season, Rodriguez hit just nine goals – compared to six goals in just five appearances at the World Cup. His 15 assists in the league and the World Cup beat Iniesta's 11, and Madrid could well have the upper hand here in years to come, but with Iniesta's experience and knowledge of La Liga, it's too soon to say Rodriguez is better than the diminutive Spaniard.
Neymar vs Gareth Bale
The two splashes of the transfer window last summer have now both had a season in Spain to adjust to Spanish football, and big things are expected of the pair this term. Neymar struggled at times to find space in the Barcelona attack, as teams simply stacked their defence around the edge of the box. 13 goals in 36 appearances was far from a failure of a first season at the Camp Nou, whilst four goals in five games at the World Cup showed everyone what he's capable of when given the chance.
Conversely, Bale settled in almost immediately – barring his anonymous showing in the first Clasico of the season. His record of 21 goals in 39 games including some truly crucial strikes, including the winner in the Copa de Rey final against Barca and the goal that gave Real the lead in the Champions League final. Bale has so far proven that he can replicate his Tottenham form in La Liga, whilst we're still yet to really see the same from Neymar. The Brazilian still has to receover from his broken vertebrae injury too, and until we see him take to the field again, the edge has to go to Bale.
Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo
Messi may not have been able to win the World Cup, but he virtually dragged Argentina through to the final. He came into the tournament with some question marks after an injury hit season, but he was still able to put up insane numbers; 38 games, 36 goals and 11 assists. He has once again proven that he is the greatest player on the planet, and now seemingly close to full fitness, we can expect to see more of the same next season. Enrique's plans don't appear to include Messi as a false 9, meaning he could return to the right hand side, where he was so devastating for Pep Guardiola during their first Champions League success together.
The great debate is always over whether Messi or Ronaldo should be considered as the best player in the world. Well, Ronaldo won the Ballon d'Or and hit a staggering 48 goals in just 41 games last season, but struggled at the World Cup alongside a mediocre Portuguese cast. It seems almost harsh to pick one player over the other, but it's also difficult to bet against Messi. The two will no doubt be competing for the Pichichi trophy once again, but the thought of a rejuvenated Messi is enough to keep Spanish defenders awake at night.
Luis Suarez vs Karim Benzema
In normal circumstances, a ratio of one goal every two games would be enough to have the edge over another player. Unfortunately for Benzema, Suarez's record with Liverpool last season was mind-blowing. 31 goals in 33 games landed him the Premier League Golden Boot award, and he went to the World Cup and effectively dumped England out with two goals in Sao Paulo. Few would doubt that Suarez is a world class striker and a phenomenal footballer, but unfortunately, we all know that isn't the full story with the Uruguayan. Accused of racism, constant diving and a three time offender when it comes to biting opposition players, Suarez became a figure of hate amongst all non-Liverpool fans during his time in England, and the biting issue has now resulted in a four-month ban.
It may therefore take a while for Suarez to hit the ground running, and Benzema put on a decent showing at the World Cup for France. He's never been a fan's favourite at the Bernabeu - mostly because of his profligacy in front of goal - but he remains a regular goalscorer for Carlo Ancelotti's side. Even with all the extra-curricular activities, it's hard to give the edge to anyone but Suarez here.
If you take the players individually, Barcelona may just have the advantage. However, their attack looked disjointed last season as they all struggled to find space, and Enrique must find a way to get the best out of each player. Madrid changed their system from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 last season to get the best out of Ronaldo and Bale, but now the arrival of James Rodriguez hints at a return to 4-2-3-1 - which may be cause for concern.
Both teams have question marks, but both teams also have immense firepower - meaning the battle for the La Liga title will be as competitive as ever.