Around the Grounds in La Liga - Almeria to Betis

Spanish round-up time! First, the As and Bs...

Nearly every club is back in business and trying to do their pre-season training in the shade during a sweltering Spanish summer. Despite 18 of the 20 clubs finding euros a bit hard to come by these days, there's still quite a bit of business being done. Here'™s the first batch of news from around La Primera'™s grounds.

Almeria
Not an ideal start for the newly-promoted club: the manager who won promotion has left after a contract-based fall-out, so youth team coach Francisco Javier Rodri­guez finds himself the youngest Primera manager at 34. 'œI feel totally capable of leading a team in La Primera: if it was any other way then I would not be here,' insisted the feisty newbie at his presentation.

According to Almeri­a president Alfonso Garci­a, the new boss has nothing to fear in the campaign to come. 'œWe are going to try to stay up, but if we go down then it doesn'™t matter,' soothed the southern suit in a comment that LLL doesn't believe for a single second.

Athletic Bilbao
With money jangling in their pockets from last summer'™s Javi Marti­nez deal, the Basque club has been on a shopping spree. They've splashed €8m on former youth-team product, dead-ball specialist and beard-wearer extraordinaire Benat Etxebarria, who has spent four years in exile at Betis trying to find himself, man.

Athletic need to replace the goals of Fernando Llorente, not that the freshly-minted Juventus striker was allowed to score any last season due to the madness of King Bielsa. Attempting to fill Llorente'™s boots and probably failing will be Kike Sola; Osasuna sold the Navarre-born six-footer for €4 million after adding the Athletic Bilbao tax. That's the extra fee bolted on to the standard price by the buyer's Basque-only transfer policy.

Atletico Madrid
A very slow summer so far for the Rojiblancos has had Diego Simeone expressing disquiet at the lack of movement in the transfer market: so far, solely Rayo Vallecano's Leo Baptistao has arrived. At the forward'™s official presentation, even club president Enrique Cerezo expressed his frustration '“ although jokily: 'œI hope it's not the last, eh Caminero?!' said Cerezo to his then-absent sporting director.

The Rojiblancos are back in training, so Thibaut Courtois also chimed in on the club'™s attempts to get some new faces in. 'œThe team is all here, it'™s just lacking Falcao; I think that the club is looking for replacements for the attack,' predicted the goalkeeper who is at the Vicente Calderon on another year'™s loan from Chelsea.

Barcelona
The Thiago Silva transfer story is set to be as entertaining as the 15-year-long Cesc Fabregas saga, which people still look back at so fondly. The Brazilian defender is attempting the tricky 'œI love PSG, but wouldn'™t say no to Bari§a, either way I'™m really cool about it all, OK?' move, which carries a mark of 9.6 for technical difficulty. So far, the centre-back is pulling the move off, unlike Liverpool forward Luis Suarez'™s Greg Louganis-style springboard head-slam.

Elsewhere in the Catalan capital, Bojan is being packed off to Ajax, half the '˜B'™ team are moving to Celta Vigo and Neymar is still a brilliant player, say the local press. As is Leo Messi, who is set to suffer footballing elder sibling issues on the arrival of a new baby.

Betis
The Seville club will spend the summer rebuilding the side'™s midfield, having sold Bei±at and Jose Alberto Canas and watched Joel Campbell return to Arsenal after a sparkling loan spell. At least they've signed Verdiº from Espanyol: 'œHe does things that no-one else can do, and we must take advantage of his class,' was the praise from striker Rubi©n Castro on a playmaker who can be very good indeed on his day.

However, Pepe Mel has noted sternly that not all Betis eggs will be put in the Verdiº basket. 'œWe are not going to build a team around him,' advised the Betis boss, who is leading a Europa League charge next season.


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