The first story isn't transfer related at all, surprisingly. An announcement from Barca's website states that club management have asked for the first game of the new season to be played away. You might think this is a really stupid idea, given that surely everyone wants to start the season well with a nice cozy home win, and you'd be right. However, there is (some) reason behind the club's madness, as such a change would enable the fixture on the 4th match day to be played at home. That day happens to be the 23rd of September, which is the 50th anniversary of Camp Nou. Fair enough, I suppose.
Barca's search for a central defender continues, with the rumour mill now focused on Gabi Milito of Real Zaragoza. The latest statement from Milito's agent indicates that Barca have yet to speak to him, and there's no agreement with Juventus either. Hopefully this won't drag on too much. Given Soriano's preferred way of doing business - quickly and quietly - we should expect an announcement within the next week if there's to be a deal at all.
Moving from arrivals to departures, Barca are apparently trying to off-load part-time striker Maxi Lopez to Sporting Lisbon on a loan deal. That article may make it sound like the deal's done, but apparently Sporting are still understandably reluctant, given Maxi's less than stellar record for Barca and Mallorca.
Lastly, Xavi expresses his admiration of Thierry Henry and looks back on a disappointing season. By the way, my understanding of the 'tour' of Scotland mentioned in that article is that it's not really a tour - we're basing the pre-season there instead of in Denmark where we usually go.
The Schuster saga rumbles on, with Real apparently unwilling to play ball with Getafe, who are understandably a bit miffed about their coach being apparently tapped up and want Schuster's buy-out clause to be paid. Ramon Calderon's behaviour in this debacle has led to understandable frustration from Real supporters (see Gonzalo's take). As Tim from La Liga Loca informs us, even Marca are getting annoyed with the lack of certainty with the pre-season looming and transfer business to be done.
According to Calderon, though, everything's just fine and Schuster will be unveiled soon. From the way he phrased his answer, it seems he's under the impression that Schuster will pay the compensation fee that is under dispute. Along with some routine transfer talk, the article also features a charming turn of phrase regarding his stalkerish pursuit of Kaka:
The Real chief reiterated the club's desire to sign AC Milan playmaker Kaka despite the fact that the Serie A side have said repeatedly that the Brazilian is not for sale.That's not a 'problem', Ramon. It's called 'clubs have the final say on under-contract players', also known as one of the fundamental rules governing club football. No offense, Real supporters. It's just that your president is just as much of a moron as ours.
'We've got a problem because Milan have taken a strong line on him but we have to see if he really wants to come and is prepared to tell his club president that he wants a change. From what I've been told he wants to come.'
Speaking of Real and transfers, apparently talks with Roma defender Christian Chivu have stalled over his apparently extravagant wage demands. Roma must not be very pleased about this development, given that fact that they've already agreed satisfactory terms with Real over this transfer.
Lastly, former Racing Santander coach Migual Angel Portugal is back at Real Madrid, having been named their new technical secretary. It's unclear how his job will intersect with sporting director Predrag Mijatovic's at this point. (For a bit of discussion on this, see Gonzalo's post, linked above.)
Sevilla president Del Nido has named his price to any would-be suitors for multi-purpose Brazilian rightback Dani Alves: 30 million euros.
The same article also reports that talented but troubled young winger Jesus Navas has signed a new contract, quashing rumours of a transfer to Lyon.
A few days after the above statement, Del Nido spoke to the press again and denied that there had been any bids lodged for Alves, as well as confirming that Kepo Blanco was off to Getafe.
Sevilla have also allowed Real Murcia to exercise their purchase option on Paco Gallardo, who has been on loan there. He signed a two year deal with the newly promoted side.
One player who's not going anywhere is Italian Enzo Maresca, despite rumours in Italian papers which have linked him to various Serie A clubs.
Despite the ongoing wrangling involving Bernard Schuster I discussed above, Getafe have already got themselves a new coach lined up - and it's yet another former Barca and Real legend in the form of Michael Laudrup. Everything's done, they just have to wait for the Schuster mess to be sorted out to put pen to paper.
Undeterred by their lack of coach, Getafe have also been signing players, recently landing Argentineans Oscar Ustari from Independiente and Daniel Diaz from Boca Juniors. Diaz is a solid centerback who just had a decent game playing for Argentina against Paraguay in the Copa America. If he adapts well to the Spanish league, he could go some way towards filling the hole left by the departure of Alexis to Valencia.
Ustari's case is a bit more complicated. I'd hoped for the longest time that Barca would sign him, because he's a very talented young keeper who just missed out on going to the Copa America through injury and who is going to be Argentina's no.1 someday. However, Getafe already have the current Argentinean no.1 Roberto Abbondanzieri who had a fine season for them in 06-07, so I'm not sure what they mean to do with Ustari. Perhaps loan him out to a club where he'd be playing regularly? That would be good for his development.
Yeah, I know they're no longer a 'La Liga' club, but I wanted to cover these two pieces of news. The first is rather sad, but I suppose it's inevitable for a relegated club to lose their best players. Veteran striker Darko Kovacevic, who has been with the club for many years, some of them glorious, has finally left the club under murky circumstances (he claims the club didn't contact him about a renewal) and joined Olympiacos. In his last 2 seasons at La Real he was frequently plagued by injury, but before that he was once one of La Liga's best strikers, who gave his best years to the Basque club.
Second, La Real have confirmed the appointment of Chris Coleman, formerly of Fulham as coach. Good luck to him.
Others (no discussion, just other interesting headlines)
Valencia's garage sale list: Asier del Horno, Curro Torres and David Navarro.
Villarreal's new signing Roberto Ayala was impressed by their winning streak near the end of the season.
Deportivo La Coruna's website claims that Jorge Andrade has been sold to Juventus.
Recreativo have appointed Victor Munoz (formerly of Villarreal and Zaragoza) as their new coach.
Osasuna have let centerback Carlos Cuellar sign for Rangers, pocketing 2 million euros.
Argentinean wingback Clemente Rodriguez of Boca Juniors is going to be on loan at Espanyol for a season and will be aiming to win himself a transfer to the club.