We’re still waiting on the odds for next seasons' La Liga, but your Humble Handicapper is more than happy to keep you all ahead of the curve with this run-down of the latest (and best) La Liga gossip and transfer rumours!
The Spanish big boys
Barcelona have already recruited Marc-Andre ter Stegen as a spare for Victor Valdes, but they plan to sign another 'keeper, because Jose Manuel Pinto is set to quit Camp Nou. The next name on their wish list, according to my spies, is Mexican goalkeeper el Guillermo Ochoa from Ajaccio, who boasts 57 Mexico caps ahead of the World Cup. Ochoa is available on a free transfer, as his contract at Ajaccio is due to expire.
Noises coming from Stanford Bridge with a Spanish flavour
Special One Jose Mourinho is on the prowl, looking for a new left-back, after Ashley Cole's decision to leave Chelsea at the end of his current contract. It looks like 28-year-old Luis is on Chelsea's wish list, but your Humble Handicapper has heard that Atletico are keen to hang onto their star player.
Brazilian Luis, who has previously been linked with Manchester United in the last January transfer window, is under contract until 2017. The player is claiming that that is where he sees himself for the duration of that contract:
"I have a contract for three more years. My thought is to continue. We have to lift our heads high after the Champions League final defeat, and think about the next goal."
On the way out from Chelsea is Fernando Torres, according to my spies. What’s more, he is likely to be saying "au revoir" to the EPL, along with Manchester United's Javier Hernandez. How Torres does in the World Cup will have a huge impact on his stock for next season.
The EPL’s runners-up, Liverpool FC look ready to complete a €22m (£17.7m) deal to sign full-back Alberto Moreno from Sevilla (who helped his Andalusian side to their top five finish in La Liga, and a Europa League crown) any day now. The Reds had failed with an initial bid for the defender, but it appears that Merseyside side has re-negotiated with the La Liga side, taking advantage of the fact that Moreno wasn’t selected in Vicente del Bosque’s final 23 man squad for the World Cup in Brazil.
Elsewhere, Brendan Rodgers is looking for a replacement left-back as his (current) first choice Jose Enrique missed most of last term through injury. Back in Spain (for now), Real Sociedad’s forward Antoine Griezmann is being courted by many sides, but it is France’s Ligue One champions Paris Saint-Germain, who look set to win the signature. Griezmann had a fantastic season in Spain, scoring 16 goals and making three assists in 35 games. He is part of France’s World Cup squad as a result of a very tidy campaign with Sociedad, and his World Cup performance could well see him headed Frenchways.
Real Sociedad’s head coach Jagoba Arrasate is hopeful that he will keep hold of in-demand Carlos Vela though. Vela had his best season last term, scoring 16 league goals as Sociedad finished seventh in La Liga. Such form has not gone unnoticed with the striker being linked to EPL club Arsenal, who very smartly inserted a €4 million buy-back clause when the player departed for Sociedad in 2012.
Looking further ahead
I have been reliably informed that Spain’s international striker David Villa has confirmed he will leave La Liga champions Atletico Madrid when his contract expires at the end of June, and the rumour mill has put him in Manchester (reportedly undergoing a medical), before a trip to City’s new U.S. franchise New York City F.C. (where he may very well be turning out alongside Chelsea’s Frank Lampard).
Another week sees more noise that Manchester United and Chelsea are preparing rival bids for Barcelona’s Cesc Fabregas. The Catalans seem to be ready to cash in on the Spain international this summer, and are reportedly holding out for big money, something in the region of €40 million. Success-hungry Man Utd are reportedly prepared to offer Fabregas a long-term deal worth around €6 million per season, but Chelsea also appear to be very interested, but are not willing to go above €5 million per season.
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