Ronaldo to Real! And Petit pots the pink

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"Tick, tock, tick, tock...” La Liga Loca had itself a big old alarm clock running, last week.

“Tick tock, tick, tock...” An alarm clock charged with keeping a beady mechanical eye on how long it would take after the closure of the transfer window before the CristianoRonaldoToRealMadrid stories would be ramped up once again in Marca and AS.

“DINGALINGALINGALINGALINGALINGALING!!!!!” was the sound La Liga Loca was woken up to on Saturday morning.

Both papers had managed to contain themselves for a good four days before having to fire off the opening salvos in another 11 months of what will be the journalistic equivalent of trench warfare.

AS had leapt upon an interview given by the Portuguese ponce to the Manchester United club magazine where he admitted that one day in the future he would maybe like to play in the Spanish league and said quite fairly that he has never been shy about this.

The shadow over the Bernabeu

That was the cue for Marca's Roberto Gómez - the 47th most influential man in Spanish football, according to Don Balón magazine - to puff himself up even further, like a particularly rotund reef fish, and defend the honour of his bosom buddy. 

“It shows that Calderón has invented nothing and did not lie for a single moment.” Interestingly, no one had actually ever accused the Bernabeu bigwig of lying in the Ronaldo case - being a big gob, yes, but not lying - but thanks for the suggestion, Robbo.

Gómez also writes about a dinner between Schuster and Calderón that was held during the week, and - possibly somewhat refreshed as he filed his copy - invented the entire conversation between the pair.

“We have a complete, full and balanced squad”, affirmed Schuster, nibbling on a breadstick. “Bernd, your moustache... it looks so, so, effulgent in this light,” sighed his boss admiringly. And so on.

An adventurous Marca took the time to tune into BBC Radio 5 interview with Manchester United’s head honcho, David Gill. As did La Liga Loca. Except the blog now thinks it may have imagined large chunks of the chat - it is entirely feasible - as it doesn’t remember Gill saying that “If €170 million comes along then we will sell Ronaldo” - a quote that the paper has splashed on Monday’s front page.

What the blog does recall is a typically dry and deadpanning Gill suggesting that Man City would never make that offer and that if they did United “would put it to the board” - ie they would tell their neighbours to sod off. Just as they did repeatedly to Real Madrid over the summer.

"Yeah, yeah, now get on the bench"

Over in Laporta’s Kingdom of Catalunya, the Barça-barmy papers are worried about Thierry Henry's form - or rather the lack of it. Sport has done a Mundo Deportivo by getting a hangover-suffering hack to rustle up a story based around an online opinion poll and fob it off as a front-page exclusive.

The paper’s latest poke around the barren, empty minds of its readers suggests that a forward triumvirate of Hleb, Messi and Eto’o is most wanted by the Camp Nou crazies. And Mundo Deportivo concurs, with Francesc Aguilar suggesting that “sacrificing Thierry Henry would be the easiest solution”.

Sport continues the serialisation of the highly entertaining Emmanuel Petit autobiography. In the last instalment, the paper printed the story of how the midfielder was caught on CCTV potting the pink, as it were, with a waitress on the snooker table at Arsenal’s training ground hotel.

"That looks a difficult angle..."

The paper now moves onto the early days of the Frenchman’s move to Barcelona in 2000 and his first meeting with manager at the time, Llorenç Serra Ferrer. “On the night of my arrival the boss said something to Dutruel, the other Frenchman in the team, who was translating for me”, recalled Petit. “Richard was visibly embarrassed. He asked me not to laugh but said that the manager wanted to know what my position was on the field”.

Incidentally, bad news for those hoping to watch Barcelona’s upcoming clash against Racing on telly. Sport is reporting that, as part of Spain’s continuing attempts to lose even further ground on the Premier League, the match could be blacked out for viewers because of the ongoing TV war. New season, same old nonsense.