FourFourTwo.com's man in Spain, Tim Stannard, on the continuing coverage of the summer's most going-on on-going transfer saga
If even Marca are bored by Tottenham's want-away Welshman, then the rest of us have the right not to give two Hobnobs whether the player ever leaves his agent’s office to head to the Santiago Bernabéu. After all, this is the paper that's had more Bale-related front covers over the past two months than “The Hay Gatherers Express.”
Wednesday’s edition has the backwards-baseball-capped footballer hidden away on page 13, lower in the pecking order than an article speculating on the future of Angel di María.
The story that there is nothing much to report is illustrated by a photograph of a Tottenham shirt with Bale’s name on the back being flogged off at a market for three quid.
Although AS are keeping up the enthusiasm, with the supposedly tool-downing Spurs player once again featuring on their front cover, both papers are more interested in the second-leg of the Spanish Super Cup final between Atlético Madrid and Barcelona.
Now that the issue of how fans are getting home from the Camp Nou at gone one in the morning has been resolved - a €30,000 payment from Barcelona to keep the metro open did the trick - there are many other questions being posed ahead of the game.
How long will Diego Simeone be dressed all in black this season? Will he eventually start sporting a mask like a footballing Zorro to leave fans wondering who is the mysterious stranger on the touchline totally unrecognisable due to a strip of cloth across his eyes? And will Neymar and Leo Messi finally start a big game together after an agonising wait of roughly a week-and-half since the season began?
Both managers in Wednesday night’s/Thursday morning’s clash in the Catalan capital are also keen to see the two in action, but Tata Martino claims it is completely out of his hands. “I want to see (Neymar) playing with Messi as well, but it is up to the progression of each player.”
Poor little Lionel is struggling with a hurty leg from last week’s game, while his new friend from across South America is still getting back to full fitness.
Even the Atlético Madrid manager says it would be nice to have the two fancy-pants forwards out on the pitch at once, if only so his defenders can boot them into submission. Oh, and that it would be good for the game and all that. “For those who like their football or will be watching at home, I hope Messi and Neymar play together,” said the Rojiblanco ruler.
As well as the the Barça boss hoping that he can play his “Mega-Cracks” together as the locals would say, the Argentine coach said the club would continue with the policy of fielding anyone who looked half-decent from those attending the stadium tours in the centre of defence, at least until the winter transfer window. At that point the club will overpay massively for a completely unsuitable stopper.
The other massive match in Spain on Wednesday evening is Real Sociedad’s Champions League qualifier against Lyon. In theory, all the work was done in the first leg against the French side (in France, no less) with a 2-0 win. But of course, all the talk of the danger of being overconfident is all the rage in San Sebastian.
“If we begin to speculate then will will be taking a step in the wrong direction,” warned manager Jagoba Arrasate, on the possibility of a failure that would unite the country in a day of national sobriety. No pressure.