Athletic’s intruder and Ronaldo's ‘alternate reality’

Twas the early hours of last Saturday night at Athletic Bilbao’s training ground and not a squeaky mouse was stirring, aside from Brownie the Brave who was being kept awake by Marcelo Bielsa performing his crouching practices.

Suddenly, a car pulled up and a tall, muscular figure with far too many teeth got out and vaulted the barrier located at the entrance to the car-park. The attention of a security guard was piqued. Especially so when that figure demanded to be let into the Athletic Bilbao dressing room, a most unusual request to say the least.

According to a tall story in this week’s papers, that figure was Javi Martínez and the Bayern Munich turncoat wanted back the stuff he'd left behind for his dramatic flit to Germany. Unfortunately, continues the tale, all the midfielder was able to retrieve upon being let in to the ground was a pair of boots. Everything else was under lock and key, or possibly had been burned in a bonfire to curse the career of Martínez for his Bundesliga betrayal.

"Have boots, will trav… DOH!"

That’s by far the most tantalising story being told in la Liga this week, with the first couple of days of the new week being dominated by – gasp, horror, oh the suspense – what will happen when Cristiano Ronaldo gets back from international duty on Wednesday. Not that much is expected to happen, except to see if the maudlin forward is still feeling down in the dumps about his tax-rate, not getting enough hugs in the dressing room or the fact that Iker Casillas is always going to be cooler than him. By a long, long way.

As it’s unlikely that a demand that Real Madrid will even out the trendiness by forcing the majestic goalkeeper to have a Dumb and Dumber pudding-bowl haircut and do his media duties in a squeaky voice, it’s widely expected that some serious talks will be taking place about giving Ronaldo a hefty pay-rise.

Rightly so, say Marca, who write in an editorial on Tuesday that a wage hike would be deserved – albeit along with the stinging warning that “Cristiano Ronaldo needs to understand that his arrogance doesn’t help him either in the dressing room or in the street,” and that “the worst enemy of Cristiano is Cristiano.”

"That's it. I'm going down the garden, eating worms"

Strong stuff indeed, but nothing compared to the previous day’s edition, in which the ever-excellent Roberto Palomar has other suggestions to keep the furious forward’s pecker up. “Florentino Pérez will have to create an alternate reality for him, a type of Truman Show where the footballer is given a false Ballon d’Or and where 80,000 extras are hired for the occasion, applauding and cheering in the Bernabeu... including for every free-kick he sends out of the building.”

Eye-popping stuff on both accounts in what is supposed to be the friendliest of media for the Madrid man – and perhaps a warning that while the club president is prepared to be lenient towards his upset starlet, behind the mask his patience isn’t infinite. After all, Getafe are always on the lookout for some more loanees.

Topics