Tim Stannard reports the gossip from Spain as Real Madrid's hot-headed stopper hits the headlines...
With a sonic boom to shatter footballing windows across Spain, a whopping story exploded in the ionosphere of La Liga: Sergio Ramos to Barcelona.
Except that the sending-off specialist isn’t by any stretch of the imagination going to jump ship to the Catalan capital, an act that wouldn’t see a pig’s head thrown at him at the Santiago Bernabeu next season but an entire herd driven through his very expensive house.
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Ramos had unwittingly become part of the current big story in Spain – the Barcelona elections – which potentially sees six candidates making outlandish promises to win the hearts of the club’s membership. On Friday, Jordi Majo, who has no hope in Hades of winning, claimed that an unnamed party had offered Ramos to Barça if he were to win the poll in mid-July. The response from Ramos’ people was that this was poppycock, the Madrid man himself admitting on Monday that he’s feeling quite good about the world, thank you very much. Although the Barcelona link is a bit of a dead fish, the concept of Ramos going somewhere else – Manchester United the current rumours – is not outlandish.
Indeed, the move has a six per cent possibility of going through, which is more than enough for LLL to leap upon with gusto. The narrative according to AS is that Ramos is not particularly happy with the club after they failed to officially deny the Barcelona story and fired Carlo Ancelotti, who he quite liked. Of course, this sudden malaise also coincides with contract negotiations for Ramos around a deal set to expire in 2017. The chances are that the Andalusian is as happy at Real Madrid as Cristiano Ronaldo locked in a hall of mirrors.
This is especially the case now a very pleasant winter away trip has dropped into Primera laps, with Las Palmas winning the Segunda play-off battle against Real Zaragoza. Now they get the pleasure of sacking at least two coaches next season, plus the odd fan rebellion.
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Las Palmas are making a return to Spain’s big chair after 13 years away, although that was nearly only 12 after the side missed out in the play-off final last year. In that period, the club bottomed out to the third tier of football, but made a steady decade-long rise back to La Liga, inspired by the legendary figure of Juan Carlos Valerón.
All three reinforcements from La Segunda are fine additions to the top flight and will add a good 100,000 to the weekly gates: the Canary Islanders, Sporting Gijon and Real Betis all have exceptional fanbases. Unlike Getafe and Eibar, two clubs that will be letting the side down unless there's another shift in the relegation places over the summer after Elche’s post-season demise.