Saturday, June 30, 2007

La Liga news round-up

I feel like I have to apologize for how big two (plus occasional Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal and Atletico) centric my Primera news round-ups are, but it is pretty damn difficult to find reliable news in English about the more modest clubs in La Liga. As usual, no baseless transfer speculation.

Barca news

We've finally signed Eric Abidal from Lyon for about 15 million euros. He's certainly a highly-rated defender and pretty much what we needed, especially after Gio's departure. The manner in which Abidal departed Lyon doesn't do him credit, but the consistency with which he insisted on coming to Barca does. Welcome, Eric. Suddenly we've got a large French-speaking contingent - maybe that will actually help Samuel Eto'o feel less isolated in the dressing room, since at least Henry and Toure are pals of his.

In further good news, fresh off his excellent performance against Brazil, Rafa Marquez has committed himself to staying at Barca next season and denied reports that he's held talks with other clubs. We're going to need him both in central defence and defensive midfield, and we're going to need him on at least semi-decent form (unlike this season), so I'm pleased he's 1) playing well and 2) staying.

Along the same vein, I was very pleased to hear Barca management confirm that Deco is not for sale. He's expected to stay on for next season. Yeah, he's not had a brilliant season, but he's still the driving force of Barca's midfield, who adds attacking flair, much needed bite and a winning mentality to the team.

Other teams

There's been some new developments in the Real Madrid coach saga, with Getafe relaxing their stance and inviting Real to initiate talks to finally end all the rampant speculation and resulting instability. It's probably in the best interests of all parties to conclude this as soon as possible, so that both clubs can get on to their squad building and transfer business. But that course of action is probably too sensible for any self-respecting Spanish club president to follow.

Staying in the capital, the Torres to Liverpool saga rages on. Atletico continue to claim that there have been no negotiations just yet, while Benitez has admitted his interest in the player but nothing more. This is a weird one. The English press are claiming that it's a done deal, and for once I'm inclined to believe it. Maybe Atletico are just trying to stem off a revolt from the fans once they hear that Torres is gone?

The post-Carboni revolution at Valencia continues apace, with captain David Albelda finally signing his four year contract extension. From what I can gather, disagreements with Carboni over the contract was the main issue in Albelda's conflicts with club management last season, so it makes sense that things have now been sorted out. Definitely good news for Valencia.

Barcelona youth product Gerard Pique has performed very well on loan at Real Zaragoza last season and the club are keen to keep him, but the young central defender has stated that he wants to go back to Manchester United - the club who own him - and fight for a starting place there. Personally I can't see him starting at Man Utd, given their settled defensive arrangements, so he'd probably be better off staying in Spain and playing with Zaragoza in the UEFA Cup. It's certainly understandable that he wants to play for United, though.

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