Sunday, July 5, 2015

Milan bag Bacca as the market warms up

Sevilla sell their Colombian star for €30 million, but no moves yet for De Gea, Pogba or Ramos

THE SPANISH WEEK IN REVIEW

* Milan have won the race for Carlos Bacca's signature. The Colombian leaves Sevilla with an impressive 49 goals in 108 games and two Europa League titles. The 28 year-old, who finished fifth in La Primera's Pichichi race to score the most goals, had been courted by a number of teams but in the end plumped for San Siro in a five year, €30 million deal. It is a loss for La Liga and certainly for Sevilla, although fellow countryman Jackson Martinez will be playing for Atletico Madrid next season, keeping the tradition of cafetero strikers in Spain going strong.

* Barcelona presidential candidate Juan Laporta, who has recetly upped his campaign for a second coming by wheeling out star names like Johann Cruyff and Pep Guardiola in support, claimed successor Sandro Rosell wanted to sell Lionel Messi to fund Camp Nou renovations.

Laporta also pledged to try to sign Paul Pogba and not to renew the €60 million annual sponsorship with the Qatar Foundation, in the light of reports of enforced labour and human rights abuses in the 2022 World Cup host nation.

His first two spells in charge of FCB brought two Champions Leagues, one World Club Cup, one Copa del Rey and four La Liga trophies to Catalonia.

Facing Laporta in the 18th of July showdown are existing boss Josep Maria Bartomeu, Toni Freixa, Agusti Benedito y Joan Batiste. Bartomeu remains favourite having garnered nearly twice as many nominations as Laporta.

* Real Madrid confirmed their €1.5 million purchase of Lucas Vasquez from Espanyol. The right-winger fits into Rafael Benitez's desire to strengthen that part of the pitch.

* Sevilla have agreed terms with Dnipro for their Ukrainian winger Yevhen Konoplyanka. The 25 year-old needs only to pass a medical before joining the team who defeated his side in the Europa League final.

* Valencia have signed Celta Vigo forward Santi Mina for €10 million.

* Barça right-back Martin Montoya has passed his medical at Inter and tied up a two-year deal, though the Catalans have first refusal on future transfers.

* Getafe have signed Alvaro Medran on loan from Real Madrid for a year. The 21 year-old midfielder has made two appearances for Los Merengues.

* Somewhere over the Rayo: Madrid's 'forgotten' club Rayo Vallecano raised a few eyebrows this week as they revealed the design for their new away kit.

Instead of the lightning bolt (el rayo), the shirt has a rainbow, which immediately brought to mind the international LGBT symbol, prominent as Madrid Pride took place this week.

Rayo's third kit has a pink stripe, which they said also symbolises the fight against cancer. A rainbow design is nothing new in football; Kansas City Wizards in Major League Soccer sported one such number not too long ago:


Explaining the choice, the club announced the various colours symbolise fighting cancer, domestic abuse and sexual orientation discrimination, promoting disabled rights, saving the planet and honouring those who "never lose hope" (Villareal? Norwich?).

Rayo will donate €5 from every pink stripe shirt to cancer charities, €7 from every rainbow stripe shirt. Bravo Rayo.

This is par for the course for possibly La Liga's coolest club, Anyone who has visited the Vallecas will know this is a locals' team with a left-wing, counter-cultural vibe.

Old ladies bring megaphones to barrack the opposition, young kids fly Che Guevara flags. The stadium has only three sides and the club has never any money to compete.

Last season the club paid for a new home for an 85 year-old widow who had lost her home as a result of la crisis, the economic malaise which has been hurting Spain since 2008.

Interestingly however, the Bukaneros fan group called the shirts a cynical and dishonest bandwagon-jumping exercise by club directors who do not really believe in the causes espoused.

* Spain's U-17 women's side won their European Championship, defeating Switzerland 5-2 in the final in Iceland.

* Turkish club Antalyaspor's President Gultekin Gencer said his club will sign Lionel Messi no less in five years' time. The ambitious team is moving to a new 40,000 seat stadium and have bought ex-Barça stars Samuel Eto and Ronaldinho before.

* Real Sociedad have sold Uruguayan striker Diego Ifran to Penarol in a five-year deal. David Moyes' side have also acquired Uruguayan goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli on a year's loan from Deportivo Maldonado.

* Barcelona are being marketed as "The Unstoppables of the Summer" for their tour of the USA, having won everything going this season in Spain.Los "imparables" del Barça, a la conquista de EE.UU

FCB play LA Galaxy in Los Angeles on the 21st of July, Manchester United in San Francisco on the 25th and Chelsea in Washington on the 28th, before jetting back to Europe for a friendly with Fiorentina in Florence on the 2nd of August.


TRANSFER RUMOURS

* Real Madrid are said to be on the verge of sealing a £28 million deal for Juventus attacker Arturo Vidal, fresh from his Copa America win with Chile.

Real are also said to be tussling with Monaco for the signature of Juve's Spanish striker Fernando Llorente.

Arda Turan was all set to swap Atletico Madrid for Barcelona but FCB's board have kaiboshed the deal until a new club president is elected on the 18th of July. The Turk's transfer fee is set to be between €35 and €41 million. Barça's transfer ban expires in January.

Late in the week it was reported Arsenal were willing to recruit Turan in exchange for Spanish international Santi Cazorla and an unspecified fee.

The 28 year-old has been linked with Chelsea, Manchester United and PSG as well recently. Blues striker Diego Costa said it would be great to link up with his former Colchoneros teammate at Stamford Bridge.

Turan himself if said to favour a move to Barça (no surprise) but if that is a no-go, a transfer to Man Utd.

*Atletico are said to be close to signing Congolese defender Chancel Mbemba from Anderlecht.

* Rafa Benitez was claimed to have asked Real Madrid to replace Karim Benzema with Fernando Llorente but his club turned him down.

* Paul Pogba remains the most sought-after signing in football this summer but Juventus are in no mood to sell it appears, after reports were ubiquitous that La Signora had turned down an offer of €80 million from Barça.

The Frenchman himself denied any club had spoken to his agent about a possible move.

* Real Madrid have offered €30 million to Manchester United for David De Gea but the Red Devils are holding out for €35 million, down from their initial price tag of €46 million.

With Man U's players due back in training this week, things could happen quickly and De Gea's arrival could kickstart long-speculated moves for Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos. Man U are said to be demanding Ramos if they are going to sell De Gea,

Ramos, back in Seville this week for a wedding, told reporters "I am not negotiating with anyone," which still allows leeway for his club and agents to be talking and for Real to be refusing to up his salary, the source of the leaving rumours in the first place.

His mother meanwhile was car-doorstepped this week and was asked if her son was staying at the Bernabeu: "Of course," she replied. "Real Madrid first and foremost...He loves Spain."

With Man Utd said to be offering €35 million and Real demanding €90 million any movement seems stalled, but the rumour is far from dead.

Andres Iniesta, oddly, was asked at a Nike function about Ramos and said he thought Real would not sell him.

In a survey for AS, 55% of Real supporters would accept a big-money offer for their storied defender.

De Gea jetted into Madrid this week, but only to spend time with his family it appeared.

* Barca's 19 year-old forward Munir El Haddadi is attracting interest across Europe. Ajax have had an offer already turned down. Born in Spain to Moroccan parents, El Haddadi is now the subject of an enquiry from Arsenal.

* Arsenal are willing to pay £18 million for Karim Benzema and have enquired about Pedro's availabilty at Barcelona, as the Gunners look for a forward following Lukas Podolski's sale to Galatasaray.

Manchester United and PSG were also linked with the Frenchman this week. The Red Devils met Benzema's agent in London's Savoy hotel last month. If Benzema leaves Real, the club will surely plump for a replacement centre-forward, with Manchester City's Argentine ace Sergio Aguero high on their wish-list.

* Atletico Madrid are trying to buy Benfica's Argentine midfielder Nicolas Gaitan but the 27 year-old is believed to favour a move to Old Trafford.

* Barcelona have been linked with Sao Paolo attacking midfielder Gerson. The 18 year-old has seven caps for Brazil's U-20 side.

* PSG's Qatari millions could be used for an audacious offer for Neymar or Cristiano Ronaldo, according to the Italian soccer press.

* The transfer window closes at the end of August so there is plenty of time for deals to be struck. Looking back, Real Madrid have bought and sold big names like Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil close to deadline day.

* Real Betis are after Nice's defensive midfielder Didier Digard on a free transfer but face competition from Marseille.

* Real Sociedad are set to sign Racing Santander's 18 year-old winger David Concha for €1 million.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile


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