Madrid bid bugs Barça as Del Bosque becomes Lego leader
There is a suspicion in LLL’s bones that Real Madrid don’t particularly want their freshly-minted right-back Danilo, despite paying a reported fee of €31.5 million to Porto and giving him a six-year deal. The background is that Barcelona really wanted Neymar's former team-mate but were powerless to do anything about it, what with being stuck waving their tiny fists in frustration on FIFA's transfer Naughty Step. And that was simply too much of a temptation for Florentino Perez.
Indeed, Madrid's scouts may as well be sat at Mordor reading the Catalan newspapers Sport and Mundo Deportivo, thus saving on shoe-leather while increasing the irritation of their hamstrung rivals. Marca report that with Danilo off to Madrid and Dani Alves probably off to PSG, Barça will be retraining Pedro as a right-back. And no, that isn't an April Fool joke.
The Madrid papers are naturally quite excited about the deal, mainly because for once a “Player X Is About To Sign!” story actually came through. AS call the 23-year-old the “new Maicon”, while Marca go one better and declare him an “improved Maicon”.
One for Mordor's marketing men to get their teeth into, while the new boy adjusts to being stared at menacingly by the current right-back Dani Carvajal and his scientifically-proven germ-infested beard.
Wednesday's other big news is the autopsy of another defeat for Spain, their sixth in 11 games – and among the five they managed to avoid defeat against were Belarus, Macedonia and Luxembourg.
Vicente del Bosque seems to be a very, very, very long way from coming close to forging a new path for Spain after the World Cup disaster.
In a sudden and mystifying attempt to apparently emulate England, players who have a decent spell receive call-ups and then disappear from the squad to be replaced by other flavours-of-the-month.
This week's lucky cap winners to follow in the footsteps of Munir and Rodrigo were Vitolo of Sevilla and Málaga's Juanmi, who both appeared in the 2-0 defeat to the Netherlands.
The national team is not a school that shares out toffees at the end of the day
The rotation made reporters' eyes roll. “Del Bosque attempted to keep everyone who has been working with him happy over the past few days,” grumbled Tomás Roncero in AS, “but the national team is not a school that shares out toffees at the end of the day.”
Whilst no one will ever say anything too mean about Del Bosque due to his rather fine achievements for the country, there is the sensation that the moustachioed maestro should have stood down in 2014, to clear the path for some fresh thinking after a World Cup disaster.
Rather than having a new master builder with an overarching plan, Del Bosque seems to be constructing his house as he goes along, using his players like Lego pieces. Unfortunately, Spain are far from awesome.
Matters aren’t set to change until the summer of 2016 when Del Bosque stands down after the European Championship. The hope must now be that his fine pre-2014 legacy stays intact.