On this day in LaLiga history: Neymar, Robben, Suarez & Makaay

We start the week with a recap of what transpired in LaLiga, during the week of the 17th of August, over the past year’s.

18th August: Neymar arrives in style (2013)

Barcelona were already 6-0 up against Levante when Neymar made his LaLiga debut on 18th August 2013, entering as a substitute with just over an hour played. But the Camp Nou still rose to their feet to greet their team’s new Brazilian attacking superstar, who had chosen the Catalan team over Real Madrid. A few days later he scored his first Barça goal in the Spanish Super Cup against Atletico de Madrid, then marked his first El Clasico against Real Madrid with a goal and assist that October.

Eight trophies won during his three years at the club included the 2014-15 and 2015-16 LaLiga titles, while his 68 goals in 123 LaLiga games included hat-tricks against Granada and Las Palmas, and a four-goal haul against Rayo Vallecano.

18th August: Fabrice Olinga becomes the youngest ever goalscorer in LaLiga history (2012)

Fabrice Olinga was aged just 16 years, three months and six days when he converted from close range to score the winning goal for Malaga at RC Celta on the opening day of the 2012-13 LaLiga Santander season. That made Olinga the youngest ever scorer in LaLiga history, beating the previous mark held by Athletic Club’s Iker Muniain, who was almost six months older when he scored his first goal for the Basque club three years earlier.

A graduate of former Barcelona legend Samuel Eto’o’s academy in Cameroon, Olinga soon also made his Champions League debut but things did not go exactly as hoped. He made just 10 LaLiga appearances in total for the Andalusians and did not score another goal before moving on the following season. Now 24 and playing in Belgium for Mouscron, his career has taken many twists and turns since, but his LaLiga record still stands.

19th August: Luis Suarez promises plenty of excitement to come (2014)

Luis Suarez’s presentation at Camp Nou on 19th August 2014 was an unusual one; the former Liverpool player had made his debut for Barcelona in the Trofeo Gamper pre-season friendly a few days before, but would not make his first LaLiga appearance for three more months due to a suspension incurred from a red card at that summer’s World Cup. Suarez told the media that day that he was excited about sharing a dressing room with new teammates Neymar and Lionel Messi and was already preparing for his first competitive game in that October’s El Clasico.

He was as good as his word, providing an assist on debut even though Barça lost 3-1 at the Bernabeu. The tough Uruguayan quickly recovered from that setback and 191 LaLiga games, 147 goals, 109 assists and four LaLiga Santander trophies later he is still going strong at 33. Suarez will be back firing for his club when the 2020-21 LaLiga Santander season starts in September.

22nd August: Makaay starts as he means to go on (1999)

Roy Makaay did not take long to make an impression on joining RC Deportivo from fellow LaLiga side Tenerife in summer 1999. His LaLiga debut on 22 August for the Galicians brought a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory at home to D. Alaves, while the following months brought another treble in a victory over Atletico de Madrid, a double in a win over Barcelona and a goal and assist in a 5-2 against Real Madrid, as SuperDepor smashed their way to the club’s first ever LaLiga title.

Nicknamed ‘The Phantom’ for how he would ghost into goalscoring positions, the Dutch striker spent three more years at Depor building a fearsome partnership with fellow forward Diego Tristan as the team also won Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup trophies. Makaay won LaLiga’s top scorer trophy for 29 in 38 games in his final season before leaving for Bayern Munich in 2003. More recently working as a coach back home with Feyenoord, Makaay’s contribution to Depor’s golden era is still remembered more than fondly around the Abanca-Riazor stadium today.

23rd August: Arjen Robben has a surprise for Real Madrid fans on presentation (2007)

‘Galactico’ presentations have been a summer staple at the Santiago Bernabeu over the last two decades, and 23 August 2007 was a special one with Arjen Robben being presented to thousands of excited Real Madrid fans at the stadium and many more millions around the world. Then-Blancos president Ramon Calderon called Robben “the best left-winger in the world” and the former Chelsea player also impressed by speaking in Spanish of “entering a dream world today,” having taken classes to learn the language ahead of his move.

Injuries affected his time in LaLiga, but when fit and firing the Dutch international was unstoppable. He scored a rare headed goal in a 4-1 over Barcelona late in 2007-08 season which helped clinch that season’s LaLiga title and managed 11 goals and 12 assists in 50 LaLiga games before leaving for Bayern Munich in 2009.

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