Difficult season ahead for Diego Simeone’s Atleti

Diego Simeone

They may have just broken their transfer record fee for Benfica’s Joao Felix but Atletico Madrid are facing a season of huge transition in 2019/20

Now almost eight years in charge at the club, Simeone could be facing one of his toughest years yet.

As well as Felix, Atleti have also brought in Marcos Llorente from their cross-city rivals and central-defender Felipe from FC Porto.

However, they have lost Rodri to Manchester City, Lucas Hernandez to FC Bayern in the Bundesliga, Gelson Martins to AS Monaco and, possibly most importantly of all, Diego Godin to Inter Milan in Serie A. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll also Continue reading

Decision-time for Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele

Ousmane Dembele

Barcelona’s young French star Ousmane Dembele faces a potentially make-or-break season in 2019/20.

The former Rennes and Borussia Dortmund winger has found himself playing second fiddle to stars such as Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez since his arrival at the Catalan club in August 2017.

In his first LaLiga season (2017/18), Dembele scored three goals and provided six assists from 17 appearances (12 starts).

Last season, the French international was hampered by injury for parts of the campaign. He played 29 times for Barcelona, making 20 starts in 2018/19, scoring eight goals and laying on five assists. Continue reading

Atletico Madrid undergo unprecedented upheaval

Atletico Madrid

This is a summer of mass upheaval at Atletico Madrid which has not been seen before in the Diego Simeone era. A plethora of players have left the club already for pastures new – Lucas Hernandez, Filipe Luis, Diego Godin, Gelson Martins and Juanfran Torres are among the confirmed exits (while Rodri is set for a move away too) to a squad which was never renowned for its depth.

That has left just 14 outfield players remaining and that is including Antoine Griezmann - who has confirmed he will leave this summer, probably joining Barcelona – and Alvaro Morata, on loan at Chelsea. As for the others, Angel Correa, Vitolo and Nikola Kalinic are all supposedly available for sale. Would the last player left please turn out the lights? Continue reading

Valencia transfer window to build on continuity and growth

Valencia celebrate

Valencia have recorded two successive top four finishes under their impressive boss Marcelino Garcia Toral and the message for the coming season is simple – more of the same please! Los Che, in their centenary year, also added the Copa del Rey title in May and want to continue to build on the momentum they have now built up.

Their success has been built on continuity and consistency, keeping and improving the same core of players within the squad and adding astutely. The club have not sought to make waves in the transfer market but unlike in recent years, they have acted astutely and shrewdly – impressively building a squad capable of challenging Spain’s elite. Continue reading

Spain Under-21 success show huge potential

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Spain’s Under-21 side deservedly lifted the European Championships trophy this summer. They defeated their German counterparts 2-1 in the final and thus extracted revenge for their loss to the same opponents in the showpiece two years prior. Following an opening day loss to Italy, La Rojita excelled throughout and once again illustrated the bright future of the Spain national team.

Whereas in 2017 the player of the tournament was midfielder Dani Ceballos – who was once again starred this time out – it was his former Real Betis teammate Fabian Ruiz, now at Napoli, who took the main plaudits. His outings were a tour de force and showed why he is developing into what can be described as a ‘complete midfielder’ in the south of Italy. Continue reading

Theo Hernandez set to end nightmare Real Madrid spell

Theo Hernandez

Real Madrid full-back Theo Hernandez has completed his medical at Milan on a five-year contract in a deal worth €20m, according to multiple reports in the Spanish press. His two-year stint in the Spanish capital has been somewhat of a nightmare and has been one which has seen his stock fall drastically.

It was just two years ago that he completed his contentious move across the Spanish capital, joining Los Blancos in a €30m move from cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid. Theo had just completed an impressive season-long loan spell at Alaves and was tipped to be the long-term successor for Marcelo at Madrid and to become a star at international level with France. Continue reading

Real Madrid’s Raul de Tomas set for Benfica

detomas

Raul de Tomas appears to be the latest Real Madrid player who the club are set to cash-in upon despite playing a minimal role in their first-team. Indeed, the case of the 24-year-old is particularly pronounced – he has played just one senior game for Los Blancos and none across the past four seasons, but now he appears set to join Benfica in a €25m deal.

The 24-year-old netted 14 La Liga goals in 32 starts on loan at Rayo Vallecano this season but it was not enough to save the side from relegation back to the second tier. He has frequently spoken of his desire to fight for his place in the first-team at Madrid but the acquisitions of Luka Jovic and Eden Hazard have seen these hopes go from slim to virtually none. Continue reading

Gareth Bale remains main Real Madrid problem

bale2

There appears to have been no movement whatsoever on the outstanding problem issue at Real Madrid this summer: Gareth Bale. All reports indicate the club are desperate to offload the Welsh forward in this window but the player has absolutely no intentions of leaving, and no other clubs are in a position to afford him.

Los Blancos have sanctioned a huge summer spend which has seen five first-team players added worth a total in transfer fees of €300m plus a mass increase in their wage bill. To date, only Marcos Llorente has left the club – joining Atletico Madrid in a €40m move – this summer, with Bale’s massive wages said to be severely restricting the club’s ability to do more business. Continue reading

Real Betis to break transfer record for Borja Iglesias

Borja Iglesias

Real Betis fell away from the European places last season primarily due to a lack of firepower and a blunt attack in the final third. The striking position was earmarked many months ago for being their primary area of concern this summer with the aim of landing a minimum of one prolific player.

A multitude of reports now claim that the club are prepared to break their 22-year long transfer record to land Espanyol striker Borja Iglesias. The hitman has a €28m release clause at the RCDE Stadium and that would trump the signing of Brazilian winger Denilson, in then (1997) a world record transfer which brought Betis into global headlines. Continue reading

Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos faces key decision

ceballos

Two years ago Dani Ceballos starred at the European Under-21 Championships. Then at Real Betis, the explosive young midfielder announced himself to the wider football world in spectacular fashion – showcasing his abilities in the most impressive manner.

That summer, the central midfielder joined Real Madrid in a cut price deal – which infuriated Betis fans, who believed he would pen a new deal at the club. This was seen as a landmark deal with Madrid yet again nailing down the future on one of Spain’s brightest emerging talents. However, things have not quite worked out that way. Continue reading