The Spanish Week in Review
* Sergio Ramos is leaving Real Madrid if you believe the press' main story this week. The merengue veteran is said to have lost patience with the lack of a pay rise (he earns €6 million p.a., 12 million less than Cristiano Ronaldo but also less than Karim Benzema and Iker Casillas) and is angling for the exit door.
Ramos is said to have been taking English lessons for a year and met Manchester United officials earlier in the year.
There is the little problem of the €180 million release clause however until his contract expires in 2017 so it is hard to credit reports of an imminent adios, but Man Utd were said to be dangling €30 million plus David De Gea for the Andalucian's signature at the start of the week, rising to €50 million by the end and with a limit of €70 million at their disposal.
Real meanwhile were said to be demanding between €65-90 million for the Andalucian's signature.
The Red Devils are said to be dangling €10 a season for five years to the player, a substantial increase on his Madrid salary of €6 million.
On the face of it reliable Ramos has the class to cut in anywhere in the world, but Ray Wilkins noted his 19 sendings-of for Real are proof of an Achilles' Heel of a suspect temperament which could be riled quite often in England.
Real have let talismen leave before - Arjen Robben, Mesut Ozil, Claude Makelele and as recently as last season Angel di Maria, so they can survive without Ramos, but he would still be a huge loss.
Talk however has already started surrounding his possible replacement, with Valencia's Nicolas Otamendi their No.1 choice. The only problem is the Argentine has a €50 million first refusal deal with Man Utd no less.
Other post-Ramos options are said to include Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci, Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny and Valencia's Shkodran Mustafi.
Given the money involved it seems unlikely there will be any movement on this front, unless Ramos falls into such a sulk that his club will be tempted to take United's highest offer. To complicate matters, Manchester City have just been added to the equation and one presumes they could outbid their city rivals.
Rafael Benitez, on holiday in his former home Liverpool, would like Ramos to stay but has little leverage over owner Florentino Perez, even if he wanted to force the issue. Parallels have been drawn with Chelsea's €50 million offer for Steven Gerrard in 2004, when Benitez travelled personally to the England camp and convinced his captain to stay on Merseyside.
* As if the fiasco over the 2022 World Cup Finals could not get any worse, the Spanish League is now demanding €65 million compensation from FIFA for disrupting their domestic calendar.
Seven La Liga match days, two Copa del Rey rounds and three group games from the Champions League and Europa League will be lost if the Qatar tournament goes ahead as planned, with all of November and December taken up by the World Cup.
Beleaguered FIFA however has rejected any monetary demands, pointing to the €200 million allocated over the net two World Cups to be distributed among clubs whose players are selected.
Expect this one to run and run.
* The Spanish League is also taking FIFA to the European Commission for Competicion over its ban on the use of investment funds in club finances.
League boss Javier Tebas said a ban on third-party ownership of clubs runs "contrary to free enterprise and against the free circulation of players and capital." He argued that although English clubs are not legally allowed to use such funds, they have an advantage over Spanish clubs when it comes to the higher value of their television deals.
Atletico Madrid owner Miguel Angel Gil explained. "We have played ten finals and won seven trophies since we started using this type of financing in 2008. Banning it would place us at a disadvantage compared to other countries, especially the English Premier League.* Zinedine Zidane, coach of Real Madrid B, confirmed he would have taken Carlo Ancelotti's job if it had been offered. "I am not disappointed. It just was not the right moment," he said.
* Roma will visit Valencia for a friendly on the 8th of August. A day later Real Madrid will play a friendly with Valerenga in Oslo.
* Rafael Benitez has promised new signings but said it was hard to improve on the existing squad. If no new faces emerge, he is set to include Russian midfielder Denys Cheryshev in his first-team squad.
* Barcelona owner Pep Bartomeu was said to have been meeting Atletico Madrid officials secretly in Ibiza this week, but what they discussed remains a matter of conjecture.
* Atletico have tied up the signing of 21 year-old Argentine striker Luciano Vietto from Villareal.
* Pep Guardiola weighed into the Barcelona presidential debate by backing his old mentor Joan Laporta, who is standing for re-election five years after leaving the Camp Nou. Later in the week Johan Cruyff no less was said to be backing Laporta. "He is very motivated to collaborate," Laporta said. Talk about a nostalgia ride.
It could be back to the future in July for FCB, and with Laporta back at the helm, how long will it be before talk of a second coming for Pep breaks out...?
* Ronaldo dislikes club owner Florentino Perez it was alleged this week for the following reasons:
The Real chief did not stand up and defend him over the 'Birthdaygate' party which the press made a song and dance about, he was not consulted about Carlo Ancelotti's sacking (Ronaldo got on well with him) or the contract renewal of club doctor Jesus Olmo (whom many players don't rate), and his new role as the lone striker he learnt about from the press first.
Perez has been quick to defend Gareth Bale this season but given his star man less support. Is there any talk of Ronaldo leaving the Bernabeu? No.
* Everton confirmed the £4.2 million capture of Barcelona attacker Gerard Delofeu for three years. The Spanish U21 international was a hit on loan in Merseyside two seasons ago.
* Jackson Martinez has put pen to paper at last. The Colombian striker is moving to Atletico Madrid for €35 million, making him the marquee signing of the summer so far.
* Malaga have completed the signing of Celta's Brazilian striker Charles for €500,000.
* Real have fired four physios, a doctor and physiotherapist following their injury-plagued season. Chief club doctor Jesus Olmo remains however, despite several players complaining he had bad-mouthed them to the club's management.
* Luis Enrique has asked Barcelona to buy another striker as cover for his MSN trident, according to the city's Sport newspaper.
* Real Madrid's barren season without a cup continued as they lost the League's Youth Cup (Copa del Rey Juveniles) 2-1 to Rayo Vallecano in Ceuta. The final concluded in drama as Rayo's Pablo Claveria handled on the line in the 94th minute and was sent off. Goalkeeper Javi Ruiz saved the resulting penalty however and Rayo had won their first Youth Cup.* New boys Las Palmas have signed Argentine U-23 striker Sergio Araujo, on loan this season from Boca Juniors, onto a five-year contract.
* Valencia's 22 year-old Brazilian forward Vinicius Araujo will go on loan to Cruzeiro next season.
* Villareal have signed French goalkeeper Alphonse Areola on a season-long loan from PSG.
* Former Valencia assistant coach Fran Escriba is the new coach of Getafe.
* Hot on the heels of Real and Barca, Atletico Madrid revealed their new kit this week. At a glance the shirt looks like Athletic Bilbao's but we are told the design is a reference to their league and cup double season twenty years ago.
* The summer transfer market has been rather slack in Spain as clubs scratch their heads over Financial Fair Play Rules and previously decadent outlays.
Barcelona are still under a transfer ban until 2016 but Real Madrid have been exceptionally quiet, having splashed out €59 million last season.
Benitez has identified his priorities as a central midfielder (presumably Toni Kroos is not his dream partner for Luka Modric), a specialist right-sided midfielder and a centre-forward, but so far no big new names have arrived at the Bernabeu. Espanyol's Lucas Vasquez is not exactly a galactico.CONFIRMED CAPTURES (not including loans)
Barcelona - Aleix Vidal (Sevilla)
Real Madrid - Casemiro, Danilo (Porto), Marco Asensio (Real Mallorca)
Atletico Madrid - Luciano Vietto (Villareal), Jackson Martinez (Porto)
Sevilla - Gael Kakuta (Chelsea), Michael Krohn-Dehli (Celta)
Valencia - Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paolo), Rodrigo, Joao Cancelo, Andre Gomes (Benfica), Alvaro Negredo (Man City)
Athletic Bilbao - Eneko Boveda (Eibar), Javier Eraso (Leganes), Ramalho
Celta Vigo - Iago Aspas, Daniel Wass (Sevilla)
Real Betis - Rafael Van der Vaart (Hamburg), Petros Matheus (Corinthians), Francisco Portillo (Malaga)
Deportivo La Coruna - Alejandro Arribas, Fernando Navarra (Sevilla)
Getafe - Juan Cala (Granada)
Levante - Ruben, Verza (Almeria)
Malaga - Fabio Espinho (Ludogorets), Amrabat (Galatasaray), Charles (Celta), Juan Carlos Perez (Braga)
Villareal - Samu Garcia, Samu Castillejo (Malaga)
Las Palmas - Sergio Araujo (Boca Juniors)
Sergio Ramos - see above
* Denys Cheryshev has returned to Real Madrid after a year on loan at Villareal with his future unclear. Liverpool are set to offer €15-20 million for the right-sided Russian midfielder, and Villareal are also keen to buy him permanently.
* Paul Pogba remains the most-coveted European signing of the summer, and Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta claimed this week that if elected, only he had "the contacts" to bring the Frenchman to the Camp Nou. Laporta also said Pogba is "very excited" to come to Catalonia.
* Karim Benzema was again linked with Liverpool and PSG.
* Barcelona could make a move for Sevilla midfielder Vicente Iborra as coach Luis Enrique is reported to have asked the club to enquire.
* Liverpool were said to have tabled a £15 million bid for Real's Asier Illarramendi.
* The British press reported David De Gea's €3.7 million Manchester pad is up for sale, fuelling rumours the Spanish international goalkeeper is on his way to Real Madrid.
Real's hunt for a new custodian is also extending to Bayer Leverkusen's 23 year-old Bernd Leno.
*Contrary to all the hype, Sevilla claim to have received no offers for Colombian marksman Carlos Bacca, whose release clause is €21 million. This has not stopped the Italian press claiming Milan are embarking on a €30 million capture.
* Another of La Liga's top strikers Antoine Griezmann was linked again with Chelsea, but the Blues' imminent capture of Falcao would seem to put the kibosh on that one.
* Barcelona are said to be preparing to buy Arda Turan from Atletico in the January transfer window, while Man Utd are willing to pay €39 million for the Turk's signature.
* Atletico are said to be keen to purchase River Plate midfielder Matias Kranevitter. Los Colchoneros are planning to buy the 22 year-old now and loan him back until January.
Diego Simeone's side were also linked with PSG's Italian international midfielder Thiago Motta and were said to be offering €15 million for Napoli's Spanish attacker Jose Callejon.
* Tottenham remain in pole position to take Belgian defender Toby Alderweireld off Atletico Madrid's hands.
* Juventus were said to be eyeing Real's Isco as their No.1 replacement for Andrea Pirlo, who is off to the USA.
* Angel di Maria could be set for a swift return to Spain but this time to Barcelona! The Argentine international has had his exit papers ready for a while now after failing to settle in Manchester and both Luis Enrique and Lionel Messi are said to have asked their club to snap him up. Real Madrid would get €10 million of any sale.
* West Ham are hoping to make Alex Song, on loan from Barcelona this season, a permanent Hammer.
* Athletic Bilbao are interested in acquiring the services of Arsenal's Spanish left-back Nacho Monreal
* Pedro was again linked with Liverpool and Manchester City, despite having signed a new contract with Barcelona recently.
(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile