There’s been very little to talk about in the Spanish media over the last few days as we’ve sadly been treated to endless coverage of ‘ref-gate’ instead. The joy. For those of you who don’t know what this refers to, it’s Barcelona’s fans – and Gerard Pique – insisting that there’s something wrong with the officials’ decisions in their matches, a conspiracy of sorts.
This hasn’t been helped by Real Madrid getting some questionable decisions going their way during the same period. While they fight, the rest of the LaLiga sides are giggling at either one of those two claiming to not get the benefit of some questionable decisions [over a long, long period of time].
But alas, there are some big stories to talk about today, so let’s get right into the news.
‘MARCA’ are reporting that James Rodriguez received a huge offer from Chelsea to make the switch to London. Chelsea were ready to then put forward a proposal to Real Madrid should the player indicate he wanted to join the current leaders in the Premier League. James was said to be very tempted until a certain Cristiano Ronaldo got involved.
‘Confidencial Colombia’, who are the source for this story, say Cristiano personally pulled James to one side and convinced him that it would be best to stay and fight for his place instead of moving in the January transfer window.
The two are good friends on and off the pitch. As we all know now, James has decided to stay until the summer at least but he was close to joining Antonio Conte’s side. And they’d have got away with it if it wasn’t for that pesky Ronaldo.
Paulo Dybala is the talk of the town in both Madrid and Barcelona but it appears, like James, his first choice is staying put. The young Argentinian striker has forged a huge reputation for himself in Serie A, first with Palmero and now with Juventus, and is attracting suitors by the minute as his contract talks with The Old Lady continue to drag on. However, he isn’t allowing the rumours to distract him.
“Is it difficult to reject Real Madrid or Barcelona? I don’t have any offers so I don’t have anything to reject. I’m happy here, I want to stay, but it doesn’t depend solely on me. My agent will arrive here in the next few days and I hope we’ll agree a new contract,” Dybala told ‘Rai Sport‘ after the Copa de Italia match last night.
Valencia are looking for a new director of football and one of the frontrunners is Frank Arnesen, the former chief talent scout for both Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea, according to ‘Plaza Deportiva’. Arnesen has a close friend who works for Meriton Holdings, the company which owns Valencia, and this could give him an advantage ahead of the other interested parties. We all know how being a friend of the company increases your chances of getting employed with Los Che.
The other names in the frame to take over the role vacated by Suso Garcia Pitarch all have a history with the club, but perhaps now isn’t the time for sentiment, and while Arnesen’s crown might have slipped ever since he abandoned Spurs he still possesses an enviable record of finding young talent. None of the candidates are expected to be offered the role until the transfer window is closed so their work would begin with planning for the summer transfer window.
Sticking with Valencia, where there is always news, it appears Simone Zaza is extremely close to joining the club. It feels like one of those ‘in the next 48 hours’ stories which turns into a couple of weeks but due to the upheaval at the club you can legislate for the delays this time around. However Voro, who was earlier this week confirmed as the first team coach until the end of the season, has specifically asked that a striker is brought in as soon as possible. Villarreal are interested in him too but the player prefers Valencia as there he knows he’ll be a guaranteed starter.
Patrice Evra is also wanted by Valencia but he’s still hoping that Manchester United come calling. The French left back, available on a free transfer this month, would prefer an Old Trafford reunion but Jose Mourinho isn’t convinced and that’s left Evra in a bit of a pickle. For Valencia, there’s no immediate need to sign a full back either but they believe it’d be a good opportunity to bring someone in with the experience and quality Evra has considering the squad is relatively young.
Barcelona are keeping tabs on Gerard Deulofeu‘s current situation, with rumours he could be joining Milan or Roma this month, as they hold a 5% future fee clause which they negotiated when they sold the Spanish winger to Everton. The U21 star for Spain has found opportunities hard to come by under new coach Ronald Koeman.