Is Kaka back? What do you think?
With tremendous timing, the annual 'Kaka can return!' stories are back in Spain's big papers this week, along with the familiar promises that 'Player X will be a Madrid player today...tomorrow...next week'. Thankfully, there's still plenty of business afoot everywhere else - here's today's chunk of news from across La Liga....
There is quite the rebranding exercise going on at Levante this summer. Almost all of the figures involved in the alleged (and denied) match-fixing scandal of last season have left the club. This includes veteran defender Sergio Ballesteros, who has been linked with a move to MLS. New coach Joaquin Caparros is as cheery as ever though, claiming that he's 'like a kid with new shoes.' La Liga Loca suspects young'uns today would want an awful lot more than replacement footwear to keep them content.
Seven free-transfer singings have been made already, including Jose Casado, a full-back from Rayo who had a cruciate ligament operation in May. Levante's biggest aim in the summer market, though, is to find another striker whose career is going nowhere and give him a hefty push in the right direction. In the past Felipe Caicedo, Kone and Obafemi Martins have benefited from this strategy. Marca suggests that Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh could do the same. Heck, even Fernando Torres might work, if things get really desperate.
Bernd Schuster has been making a few movements at Malaga, when not busy playing golf. Roque Santa Cruz is set to stay on after his loan spell from Manchester City, with one or two signings made using a fraction of the cash from the Isco sale. Fernando Tissone joins from Sampdoria, along with Wydad Athletic Club Casablanca midfielder Bobley Anderson.
However, it is in the striking department where Schuster most wants to strengthen. 'It's where we need to spend the most money, it's worth it,' he said. To make room for more forwards, Malaga are looking at moving out the rather injury-prone Julio Baptista.
The Pamplona club look like they've got their summer business finished off nice and early. Striker Kike Sola was shipped off to Athletic Bilbao, while left-back Joan Oriol has arrived from Villarreal, with seme-namesake, striker Oriol Riera, signing from Alcorcon.
Meanwhile Jose Luis Mendilibar has made a promise that Osasuna will be breaking their stereotypical playing style a little in the new season. 'Last year we always played direct football' complained the Osasuna boss, 'this time I'd like fast transitions and getting into the box better.' LLL is not sure it likes these new-fangled tactical innovations from the traditionally blood and thunder Navarre club.
Once again, the Madrid club have got to rustle up some players of any ilk to face the new campaign after losing half the squad at the end of the previous season. Five crucial first teamers have left the club so far, in the shape of Chori Dominguez, Piti, Leo Baptistao, Jose Casado and Javi Fuego. Two footballers have come in, with Raul Baena joining from Espanyol and Mexican striker Nery Castillo jumping on board in a rather enthusiastic and optimistic fashion.
'I have a dream to be with the national team (at the World Cup) having had a good season here,' admitted Castillo, gazing wistfully into the distance, before breaking into song.
Here is your Real Madrid mega-squash of Bernabeu news. Gonzalo Higuain is still knocking about. As is Fabio Coentrao, the second of two footballers looking for an exit from the Santiago Bernabeu. Jose Callejon may not have been looking for one, but has been shown it anyway, having been sold to Napoli for a reported €10 million. The move from Asier Illarramendi seems to be stuck in the mud with Real Sociedad quite rightfully wanting the full buy-out clause fee. Meanwhile, Marca are claiming that Carlo Ancelotti will be the latest coach to try and get something out of Kaka. Good luck with that one.