Just when the Spanish economy appeared to be getting back on its feet, a double whammy of news has broken to send Iberian finances back into the doldrums.
The combined effect of FIFA banning Real Madrid from transfers for 18 months, and Florentino Pérez announcing in the French press on Wednesday that there were no plans for any winter window spending, has caused hundreds of thousands of job losses across the land. “We have the best team in the world, we are not going to sign,” the Madrid president declared to France Football.
Those job losses will mainly come in the media – written, radio or of a televisual nature, it doesn't really matter. Just those who generally make up stuff about who Real Madrid are going to sign. And that’s a hefty chunk of the Spanish economy. Indeed, the effects are being felt elsewhere, with super agent Jorge Mendes planning on buying just the three private islands this year unless something rather dramatic with Cristiano Ronaldo can be arranged.
It looks like Barcelona are going to be spending thrifts this winter too, now that their purse strings have been unknotted from the club’s own FIFA transfer ban. The problem is that the purse attached to those strings is rather empty.
This rather skint state has reportedly led the deal bringing in Nolito from Celta Vigo to collapse, with the Galician club unwilling to accept Barcelona’s gentle suggestion of the striker joining on loan until the summer and Munir and Sandro going in the opposite direction, with a proper currency-related deal to follow.
“The only signing will be Munir,” notes a glass-half-full Mundo Deportivo, with the hope that a recent scoring spree is not another false dawn for a future Stoke signing who was all the rage a year-and-a-half ago before disappearing into the B team.
The forward in question is likely to get another run-out in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday, a quarter-final second leg against Athletic Bilbao in the Camp Nou with Barça holding a 2-1 advantage. Despite the manager of the Basque visitors admitting that it was difficult to see “the players they have up front not scoring on Wednesday”, Ernesto Valverde was hopeful to win the match with the philosophy that the team “had nothing to lose”.
Fuss in Madrid
Wednesday’s second quarter-final clash is considerably more open, with Atlético Madrid and Celta Vigo kicking off in the Vicente Calderón after a goalless draw in Balaídos. The Galician visitors are hoping to find a way past a team that has become a footballing art installation dedicated to the concept of post-Millennial minimalism by scoring and conceding as few goals as possible, but still surviving.
But rather than the match itself, the talk of the town in Capital City was the scheduling of the Madrid derby on Saturday, February 27 at four in the afternoon. It doesn't leave Atlético a huge amount of recovery time from a Champions League clash against PSV in the Netherlands on Wednesday night (look, this is Spain OK?), not least because Real Madrid get to cool their heels midweek after playing their game against Roma the previous week.
Naturally Diego Simeone was stoic about the affair, waxing on and waxing off that “in life there are excuses and realities. I live with reality and that’s all there is to say.” The Argentine will be hoping that such efficiency and effectiveness will be on display by his goal-shy strikers on Wednesday night.
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