Philippe Coutinho to end underwhelming Barcelona stay

barcelona-coutinho

Philippe Coutinho is likely to be on the move this summer after a hugely underwhelming 18 months at Barcelona. It would be unfair to call his spell a disaster but considering the financial outlay the club made to secure his signature in January 2018 – his signing can only be described as a miss.

The Brazilian international has made 75 appearances for the Catalan giants, has won two league titles and the Copa del Rey crown. But he has not once appeared to be the side’s star man, even on an individual game basis. For the second most expensive player in transfer history, this just simply is not good enough. Continue reading

Jasper Cillessen to leave Barcelona for game-time

Jasper Cillessen

Barcelona backup goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen looks certain to leave the club this summer and his is an interesting case study on the career trajectory for ‘squad’ players who join a European giant. The 30-year-old joined the Blaugrana three years ago after making 143 first-team appearances for Ajax and was first choice shot-stopper for the Netherlands.

The goalkeeper arrived at the Camp Nou at the age of 27 – he should have been entering the prime of his career when he made the move from the Dutch giants. Yet he was a fringe player at best throughout the rest of his 20s despite being one of the most highly regarded goalkeepers in European football. Continue reading

Espanyol wary of summer of sales and instability

espanyol

Espanyol are back into Europe for the first time since 2007 and there is a tangible sense of excitement and optimism around the club. Espanyol went unbeaten through their last nine matches of the season, including winning each of their last three, to clinch seventh place and a return to the Europa League – their first European venture since losing the 2007 final on penalties against Sevilla.

Yet within weeks of the league finishing, there is already a sense of anxiety and unease about events that are unfolding this summer. Boss Rubi already appears certain to depart, having told the club chairman Chen Yansheng that he wants to be allowed to join Real Betis. The two clubs are currently locked in negotiations to find a fee to confirm the move. Continue reading

Girona future unclear following La Liga relegation

Real Madrid v Girona

This season: Girona won at Real Madrid. They won at Valencia. They defeated Sevilla. They drew at Barcelona. They drew three times against Atletico Madrid. Despite all this, Girona were relegated from La Liga. The Catalan club celebrated their first ever promotion to the top flight two years ago but their adventure, for now, is over.

After last year’s top half finish, the prospect of relegation was not one that was obviously on the table going into this season. Charismatic and energetic boss Pablo Machin left for Sevilla, but the appointment of Eusebio Sacristan appeared to be a steady hand coming in to steer the ship, having performed reasonably at Real Sociedad over three years. Continue reading

Boss Jose Bordalas the only star at Getafe

Jose Bordalas

It is hard to believe that until August 2017, Jose Bordalas had never managed a match in the Spanish top flight. It was not for a lack of trying – he had been involved in management across a 25-year spell but had never been able to breach the top-flight. He was desperately unfortunate not to do so the previous year, when he guided Alaves to La Liga after a 10-year absence only to be dismissed after winning the Segunda title.

That was a decision which ultimately proved hugely beneficial not only to Alaves – who have impressed in three successive seasons in the Primera – but also to Bordalas, who has worked wonders at Getafe. He took the helm at Los Azulones in September 2016, with the club second-from-bottom in the Segunda and facing the prospect of further gloom and doom. Continue reading

Espanyol boss Rubi set to join Real Betis

Rubi Espanyol

The departure of Quique Setien from Real Betis created one of the most high-profile and interesting job vacancies in European football. In his first season at the helm, Setien led the club back to European football but inflated expectations and a greatly increased budget meant that this season’s 10th-place finish was one of disappointment.

A series of stars have arrived at Los Verdiblancos over the past 18 months: Pau Lopez, Marc Bartra, William Carvalho, Sergio Canales, Giovani Lo Celso. International standard players whose standard is competing in Europe and next season presents an opportunity for the club to focus on domestic competitions and potentially even launch a bid for a top four spot. Continue reading

Sergio Ramos at Real Madrid shows continued fractions

 

ramos

It has been a week of ups and downs, twists and turns and unpredictability for Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos. First there were reports that he wanted to go to China on a free transfer, then that he had changed his mind and wanted to stay, then club president Florentino Perez confirmed the defender had requested an exit. The bizarre week ended with the 33-year-old staging a press conference to reaffirm his commitment to Madrid.

 

The Spain international made 41 starts for the club this season but was among a number of underperforming players as Madrid endured a tough campaign. Few had doubted his longevity at the club beyond this season, being the captain and a symbol for Los Blancos over the past decade. But the past few days highlighted a strained relationship with president Perez. Continue reading

Real Madrid to sign Eden Hazard, but is it too late?

Eden Hazard

Chelsea star Eden Hazard is set to arrive at Real Madrid in the coming weeks, with the deal set to signal a significant transfer policy shift from the club. In the past five years, Los Blancos have scaled back their investment in new players in a sharp contrast to the ‘Galacticos’ era by which many still define the club.

Not since the arrival of Toni Kroos in 2014 has a true star arrived at Madrid, one who unquestionably slotted into their starting line-up. Sure, Thibaut Courtois arrived from Chelsea last year but his was a knock-down price due to his contractual situation at Stamford Bridge and, besides, it was unclear if he would truly replace Keylor Navas as a starter. Continue reading

Martin Odegaard deserves Real Madrid chance

Martin Odegaard

Martin Odegaard looks set to leave Real Madrid on a two-year loan deal to Dutch giants Ajax, according to the latest speculation. The Norwegian has starred during a series of loan stints in the Netherlands, and surely deserves a chance in the first-team squad at Los Blancos.

The 20-year-old is currently on loan at Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem after previously making 43 first-team appearances on loan at Heerenveen, with both his stats and reviews this campaign showing a marked sign of progress. The midfielder has impressed once again in the Eredivisie this campaign by netting eight goals and providing nine assists to help Vitesse into a top seven spot. Continue reading

Keylor Navas set for Real Madrid exit

Keylor Navas

A multitude of reports in the Spanish press on Monday stated that Real Madrid had informed long-serving goalkeeper Keylor Navas that his time at the club was up. The 32-year-old’s final game at the club is set to be against Real Betis on Sunday, in an opportunity for him to say his goodbyes to the fans after five years in the Spanish capital.

The Costa Rican appeared certain to leave the European champions last summer whenever their €40m deal for Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea was completed. However, the Costa Rican number one stuck it out in the Spanish capital and continually referenced his contract at the club and even stating ‘he would rather die’ than leave the Bernabeu. Continue reading