In Focus: Granada’s ex-Premier League players out to stun United

Ex-Tottenham forward Roberto Soldado is one of several ex-Premier League players in Granada's ranks

Ex-Tottenham forward Roberto Soldado is one of several ex-Premier League players in Granada's ranks

Manchester United have never previously played Granada — but there will be plenty of familiar faces on show when the two sides meet tonight. 

The Spaniards are enjoying their first European campaign and have already taken some impressive scalps, including victories over PSV Eindhoven and Napoli. 

United will need to be wary of the LaLiga side in their two-legged quarter-final — especially the threat posed by five former Premier League stars in their ranks.

Read on to discover more about some familiar faces Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will be up against. 

Roberto Soldado

When he signed for Tottenham in the summer of 2013, Roberto Soldado became the club’s record purchase at the time at £26million — but he failed to live up to the hype. 

The 35-year-old has not hit the heights he managed prior to his Premier League stint since leaving North London in 2015 but his time in Granada has seen him produce his most consistent form in a decade.

He is averaging a goal every 140 minutes in the Europa League — including goals in both legs of his side’s last-16 tie against Molde. 

The first was a wonderfully struck volley from just inside the area and he followed that up in the return tie with a clever glancing header. 

United cannot afford to overlook the former Real Madrid and Valencia forward. 

Kenedy

Kenedy is a member of Chelsea’s long-term loan army. 

Since arriving at Stamford Bridge in 2015, Kenedy, 25, has played for Watford, Newcastle, Getafe and now Granada. 

Kenedy had spells with Chelsea, Newcastle and Watford earlier in his career
Kenedy had spells with Chelsea, Newcastle and Watford earlier in his career

His time in Andalusia is by far the most productive of a stop-star career to date. 

The Brazilian has chipped in with six goals and four assists in all competitions this term, while his versatility and speed make him a perpetual threat. 

Granada’s No24 is a dangerous ball carrier, attempting just over five dribbles per 90 minutes and completing just under four. 

The Red Devils will want to prevent him from isolating players in this evening’s encounter. 

Jesus Vallejo

In January 2020, Jesus Vallejo ended his season-long loan with Wolves in order to play more football, signing instead for Granada on a temporary deal. 

He might not always be first choice for El Grana but coach Diego Martinez trusts the 24-year-old. 

The Real Madrid loanee has featured in all but two of their Europa League games this season and his 29 appearances in all competitions is the centre-back’s best since his debut season with Real Zaragoza. 

Versatile and aggressive, Vallejo has the skill set to smother opponents and dominate space. He also has the calmness and composure needed to pick out passes from the defensive third. 

Dimitri Foulquier

Only four members of Granda’s squad have racked up more LaLiga minutes than former Watford man Dimitri Foulquier this season. 

Ex-Watford man Dimitri Foulquier is now a mainstay in Granada's first team
Ex-Watford man Dimitri Foulquier is now a mainstay in Granada's first team

Primarily a right-back, the 28-year-old has filled in as a right midfielder and at left-back. He has also contributed four assists, including one against Napoli. 

A high energy full-back who is not shy about getting the ball into the box, Foulquier attempts over two crosses per 90 minutes. 

He is the supply line from the right-hand side and someone who Luke Shaw will have to get to grips with. 

Luis Suarez

No, not that one. 

Luis Suarez arrived in Andalusia from Watford in a £10m deal last summer after three years on the Hornets’ books without making a single appearance.

A tenacious, mobile forward, the Colombian has gradually risen through the Spanish football pyramid, scoring goals on loan at Real Valladolid B, Gimnastic and Zaragoza. 

He also struck five times in 35 appearances on loan with Granada’s B team in 2016-17. 

It has been an impressive first season in Spain’s top flight for Suarez, netting five times in 13 LaLiga starts — a figure only bettered by the experienced Soldado. 

Premier League observers might have forgotten about this quintet but Manchester United will overlook them at their peril.

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GranadaManchester UnitedEuropa League