Thursday, July 19, 2007

La Liga News Round-up: the real silly season

'Tis the season for players to be presented and for coaches to hold press conferences, apparently. Well, that and increasingly ridiculous transfer speculation. On with the news.


Vice-captain Xavi talks about each of the new signings, the disappointments of last season and Frank Rijkaard.

The official website has details of the pre-season training camp in Scotland, which won't feature the players who were involved in the Copa America (Marquez, Messi and Milito).

Joan Laporta is going to sound like a broken record soon, but as long as it's necessary, he'll keep saying it: Samuel Eto'o is not for sale.

Speaking of which, Eto'o has been busy captaining an African XI against a World XI in a charity match to celebrate the birthday of that great man, Nelson Mandela. Former Barca goalkeeping great Andoni Zubizarreta played for the World XI.

Still on the topic of Sammy: he's had to come out and reiterate once again that he's not going anywhere. To his credit, this isn't one of those transfer sagas started by a star player talking himself into the papers and starting speculation. He's been consistent about his desire to remain.

Diego Milito showers his brother Gabi with praise ahead of his Barcelona presentation.

Yaya Toure has shown unusual diligence for a Barca player - Captain Caveman obviously excluded - by voluntarily starting pre-season training early. Apparently Henry has also followed him onto the empty training pitches of La Masia. Nice.

Real Madrid

Former Liverpool 'keeper Jerzy Dudek is officially a Real player.

Youth system product and Spanish U-21 international Esteban Granero commits to a 4-year contract.

Julio Baptista has returned the compliment of technical secretary Miguel Angel Portugal by saying that he wants to stay at the club.

Here's something I completely forgot to mention: Barca B weren't the only 'reserve' side of a filthy rich club relegated at the end of last season. Real Madrid Castilla were relegated from the Spanish second division, which isn't a nice experience, but still not nearly as horrible as the feat accomplished by Barca B - which was relegation from the Spanish third division, in case you haven't heard my agonised ranting on the topic before.

Real Zaragoza

Brazilian striker Ewerthon joins Stuttgart on loan for a year with the option of a permanent move.

Roberto Ayala's controversial switch has been completed. The veteran defender also announced his retirement from international football in his unveiling press conference. (I'm crushed, of course, but that's a post for another day.)

Francisco Pavon of Real Madrid (yeah, that one) and Franclino Matuzalem of Shakhtar Donetsk have signed.

The admirable coach Victor Fernandez talks about the club's transfer activity so far.

Real Betis

Hector Cuper officially takes over as coach, promising changes in mentality and praising the new signings.

Part-time Liverpool winger Mark Gonzalez set to join
. I thought Gonzalez was quite good for Real Sociedad. No doubt he'll prove useful for Betis.


Michael Laudrup speaks about the tough job he has on his hands. He's got a point, especially with an UEFA Cup campaign to deal with. (How his presence makes me wish that Hristo Stoichkov's Celta hadn't been relegated. God, imagine the cat fights.)

Kepa Blanco is presented in apparently high spirits after his transfer from Sevilla.

Deportivo La Coruna

The president maintains that Coloccini and Lopo are staying, but not very firmly.

Zaragoza's Angel Lafita has joined on loan, having been stuck on the bench at La Romareda for most of the past season. Depor could use some attacking talent, and they've fixated on signing young players, a lot of them from other clubs' benches or reserve teams in order to affect the change of generation that they desperately needed as far back as 2 years ago.


Espanyol talisman Raul Tamudo, who has I believe never played for another club has pledged that he's happy to stay, quashing rumours of persistent overtones from Villarreal.

New signing Milan Smiljanic reported for pre-season training, but Jonatas has not. Happens every season in La Liga - South Americans being back late, that is, although I think they could probably cut the Brazilian a little slack given recent events involving a plane in that part of the world. Good on Espanyol for having actual disciplinary measures to deal with this type of thing, though. Are you taking notes, Laporta?

Real Murcia

Real Madrid's Pablo Garcia joins on loan for a year, having spent the last season on loan at now relegated Celta Vigo.

Also from Real, youth team product Alvaro Mejia has finally given up the battle for a starting spot at the Bernabeu and signed a four year deal with the newly promoted team.


Sevilla's forward Javier Chevanton is suffering from a blocked vein which may keep him out of pre-season training.

Valencia's new sporting director Miguel Angel Ruiz grumbles about how difficult it is to play attractive football these days.

Villarreal coach Pellegrini speaks about the season ahead, and the need for several new signings to plug the holes left by several departures and injuries, mostly in the back but also vitally a forward. That last part won't be easy. Those who saw him in the Premiership might laugh, but Forlan scored so many goals for Villarreal and it's hard to see anyone in the club's price range who could do the same. Unless, of course, they manage to unearth a gem from South America yet again.

Osasuna, who are in desperate need of some strikers, having waved goodbye to Savo Milosevic and Roberto Soldado, has bought in an experienced hand in the form of Walter Pandiani. The former Depor player had a good season at Espanyol in the UEFA Cup, but couldn't get into the starting line-up in the league. Good buy, I should think.

From what I've heard and seen in pre-season, Racing really need help, and finally there are signs that the club will make some moves in the transfer market. Aldo Duscher, recently released by Depor and Jorge Lopez of Valencia are reportedly the first two signings.

On a final note, I usually don't deal in transfer rumours, especially those being pushed by one of the Spanish sports papers, but occasionally I come across one so absurd that I have to point it out, if only to laugh. The geniuses at Marca - which I like chiefly for not being AS - tell us that Real Madrid are thinking about paying for Barca midfielder Andres Iniesta's 60 million euro buy-out clause to prise him away. (Original Spanish version here.)

Oh dear. Iniesta's young and brilliant, it's true, and he did almost join Real as a 12 year old, coming from a town full of Madridistas. However - Let me count the ways in which this story is ridiculous:

1) As it happens, he joined Barca as a 12 year old, and he's been bought up as the club's future ever since. Why did Cesc Fabregas have to leave? Because of Iniesta's existence. They're similar players. So the club does value him - probably about as much as they value vice-captain Xavi at this point - and won't be very keen to see him go.

2) Again, he's been at the club since he was 12. We all know that footballers don't have much loyalty these days, but if I had a list of current squad members who were blaugrana through and through, he'd be near the top.

3) If Joan Laporta is stupid enough to allow this to happen, I will personally - well, I won't say what would happen, but let's just say it would involve me getting a flight to Barcelona and subsequent unpleasantness. Possibly with a hot poker.

(University has started again, so posts will become slightly less frequent, but I'll still try to keep up with all that's going on.)


Anonymous said...

tnx nice information...

Soccer Mania said...

Very detailed information -basically i dont need to read for transfer news :-)

The uncertainity surrounding the Barca squad is really worrying. First with the links btw Milan and Dinho and then Milan and Samu. Finally, it is Iniesta of all people to be linked to Madrid. As a Barca fan one may as well wish that the season starts asap. Wht is happening with Marquez -he was really good in the Copa in fact better than Gaby Milito.

The Ayala story is really sick to read. First with his screw up with the NT and now with this controversial switch to Zaragoza.

The good thing is that the Little Argentinos are in the finals of Youth Cup 2005 - cheers to Banega, Aguero and Co

estoverao said...

Excellent coverage of the 'silly season'. With the Robinho's COPA AMERICA done, I can't wait until LA LIGA starts as our two clubs battle for the title. Plus, now that Schuster's in charge we will now compete for the 'who plays the most beautiful game' symbolic title that unfortunately under Capello, MADRID had no chance of taking that from those Catalan giants at BARCA. The LA LIGA championship felt good though, it had been away too long from the Bernabeu.

linda said...

Thanks! seems to like reporting wild rumours, so I've taken to discarding anything that doesn't have a quote from a club official attached to it.

I'm not actually very worried about Barca. The press can say what they want, we know Ronnie, Eto'o and especially Iniesta are not going anywhere. As for Marquez, I don't think he's going anywhere either. Barca aren't in the position of a selling club.

I'm glad the U20s are doing so well! Hopefully they can continue the success of Maradona, Riquelme, Saviola, Messi and co and bring back the cup.

linda said...

estoverao: thanks! Yeah, although I think Capello deserved another season, Schuster is a good coach who will no doubt bring some changes to the way Real play.

I can't wait for the season to start - all the La Liga contenders have strengthened, and the European battle looks exciting too.

estoverao said...

I'm curious as a BARCA fan, what you thought about my coverage of your FANTASTIC FOUR. As a Madridista, Henry's arrival at the CAMP NOU is a bit disconcerting.

linda said...

estoverao: I just went over and read your post - brilliant stuff, and I think you're spot on, both with the excitement Henry's arrival brings and the potential problems. I'm waiting to see what Rijkaard does, formation-wise, before deciding whether or not this is going to work, but for now colour me concerned.