The Spanish teams may have been slow starters in the transfer market because the league finished late, but they've sure moved fast since then. It is the policy of this blog to discourage baseless speculation - by which I mean anything that doesn't have quotes from a club official attached to it - so you won't find any of that in my news round-ups. So let's see what's actually been going on in La Liga.
Atletico Madrid have repeated their line that whether Fernando Torres goes or stays is entirely up to him and said that they are preparing themselves for life without him. Towards that end, they confirmed that they have an interest in Villarreal's Diego Forlan, currently suffering with the rest of the Uruguay NT in the Copa America.
The Madrid club's own fans don't seem too pleased at the prospect of selling their club captain, though. Fair enough.
Staying with Atletico, (very) occasional Argentinean international Luciano Galletti has sealed a move to Greek side Olympiakos, pending agreement from his former club Zaragoza. He's not had a good season, having stepped in for Maxi Rodriguez when he sustained his knee injury, but those are some big shoes to fill.
Over in Real Betis, Argentine Hector Cuper has been named their new coach. Cuper has had extensive experience in La Liga before with Real Mallorca and Valencia. Good luck to him, because that's definitely not an easy job.
Speaking of difficult jobs, there's been nothing official yet, so I won't say anything about the Real Madrid Capello-Schuster dilemma and just direct you to the excellent All In White for the latest on who will be coaching Real next season.
Update: annnnnd there's been an official announcement. He's gone, but Getafe have denied reports that Schuster will succeed him. I have to agree with Gonzalo's take on this. I completely understand that Real Madrid, being Real Madrid, have to strive for more than just winning games. Barca are the same way, after all. But having said that, an institution like Real probably shouldn't be seen to be firing coaches who achieve their targets and so lacking in stability (Beckham's 'I would like to thank my 6 coaches...' comes to mind). Although, if the plan was to bring Capello in, have him trim the team down to size, then dump him for a more exciting coach, well, the board were certainly very smart. They've achieved their aim.
From a Chelsea site of all places there's an interesting post discussing the recent study of the levels of fan support for each team in Spain. It makes some really interesting points by comparing the situation in La Liga to the Premiership. The one I find most fascinating and in need of more analysis is the fact that while fan support is far more spread out in the Premiership, the Champions League entrants from Spain are far more variable than the equivalent 4 teams from England.
I only just discovered the excellent Inside Arsenal through the Henry transfer. This post in particular touches on a topic that I feel is unjustly neglected by comparing the youth systems of different leagues. Earlier in the 06-07 season, the debate which was stirred up by Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho's suggestion that youth teams should be allowed to compete in lower leagues was abortive at best, as it was entirely eclipsed by the usual war of words between bigger, richer clubs who are seen as arrogant and smaller clubs who are seen as bitter. I personally feel that youth development is an incredibly important aspect of a club's operation and of the national team's success, so it's good to see intelligent discussion on the topic.
(I've been trying to compile a post about the Barca youth system for ages, but finding information in English is a struggle. Expect to see that post eventually, though.)
Lastly, I've been looking forward to these. Here's Sid Lowe's always entertaining awards of the Liga season, and as usual I broadly agree with his choices (having made quite a few similar ones in my own season review). While we're on the subject, here's ESPN Soccernet's Phil Ball's team of the season, and La Liga Loca's.
Barcelona have been authorized by Roma to speak with Christian Chivu and his agent about personal terms, indicating that the two clubs have come close to an agreement regarding the player, where there was a reported difference in the two sides' valuations.
While we're on the subject of Barca, AC Milan seem to have finally gotten the message that neither Ronaldinho nor Eto'o are up for sale after months of our club officials hitting them repeatedly with the clue bat. Good for them.
Less satisfying to hear is Ludovic Giuly's agent 'slamming' Barca for slapping a 5 million euro price tag on his client's head. (Not literally, because then I'd understand his outrage.) It is his opinion that Giuly should be allowed to leave on a free transfer. I really like Giuly, and if he has to leave, I would want the parting to be an amiable one, so this is a real shame. It is understandable that the club would want a few million euros for him, though. Surely he's worth that much? Far lesser players are going for outrageous prices left and right, after all.
On a slightly different note, while the majority of footballers would probably rather be lying on a sunswept beach, the great Lilian Thuram spends his holidays giving talks on violence while touring West Africa as an United Nations goodwill ambassador. This is why he is one of the most awesome people ever.
Lastly, this post echoes my own fears regarding the Thierry Henry transfer perfectly. I would say that it probably isn't necessary to deploy Henry on the wing to accommodate all four players (you could have Henry partnering Eto'o, with Ronaldinho on one wing and Messi on another, for example), but I'm really not sure how Rijkaard is planning to play this, so we'll just have to hope that our worst fears don't come to pass.