It is no secret that there are still a couple of gaping holes in the Espanyol squad, but fear not, Twitter is confident that a solution is at hand!
The list of names mentioned as potential replacements for Borja Iglesias is extensive, taking in Simone Zaza (Torino) and Andre Silva (Milan), via Mariano Díaz (Real Madrid), and everyone in between. These names are all associated with big clubs, which ensures maximum buzz, but also suggests that Mundo Deportivo or Marca might have just pulled it out of their arse in a rare moment when they had nothing to say about Barça or Madrid.
More credible have been links to players like Cristhian Stuani (Girona), an ex-perico, or Jaime Mata (Getafe). It now seems that the most likely addition is Jonathan Calleri. The 25-year-old Argentinian is something of a wanderer, having found himself caught in a dystopian nightmare whereby he is literally owned by his agents and rented out around Europe to whoever will fork out a reasonable loan fee. In this case, that’s Espanyol, and hopefully his stay at the RCDE stadium can at least soothe the existential torment be must be plagued by.
Incidentally, Calleri’s is far from being an isolated case. If you look at the club history of players like Willian José, Gerónimo Rulli (both Real Socieadad), Álex Sandro (Juventus) or Allan (Napoli), you will find that they have all made the unlikely move to second division Uruguayan outfit Club Deportivo Maldonado at some point. This club is in fact owned by an English consortium headed up by super-agent Jonathan Barnett, who represents, among others, Gareth Bale. None of these players have ever played for Maldonado, but they have all been sold on or loaned out for considerable fees, in a country which has unusually low taxes on such transfers. Many of the same agents were also involved in the transfer of Carlos Tévez to West Ham in 2007, which was investigated for alleged tax avoidance and money laundering in Argentina and Brazil. Calleri has been on loan from Maldonado since January 2016, during which time he has played for Sao Paulo, West Ham, Las Palmas and Alavés. Hopefully this doesn’t stop him from sleeping at night.
Naturally, Youtube has provided amateur scouts with irrefutable evidence that Calleri is the bomb:
Getting Maradona out of his seat like that was probably the highlight of his career so far. It came in the 2015 season when he won the Argentinian championship with a Boca team also featuring, that man again, Tévez. After selling his soul to Maldonado, he was called up for the 2016 Argentina olympic team alongside Rulli and Ángel Correa. It would be fair to say his carrer has stalled a bit since then, but he has at least been a regular in LaLiga for the past two seasons, scoring a total of 18 goals in Gran Canaria and then Vitoria. Still only 25 years old, he would be a promising addition.
Perhaps the more pressing concern is the lack of a right-back of the necessary quality. Javi López continues to be the favourite whipping boy for a very vocal section of the support, and his case wasn’t helped by the match against a Sevilla side who loved to attack down his flank.
Sevilla seem to have taken pity on us, and the arrival of Sébastien Corchia, also on loan, seems to be a done deal. Corchia, who has one cap for France, rose to prominence with Sochaux and then Lille in Ligue 1, before attracting Monchi’s attention at Sevilla in 2017. Unfortunately, he missed four months of that season with a groin injury, and failed to make the kind of impact he would have hoped for. He was loaned out to Benfica last season, but again saw his opportunities limited by injury. To be frank, these fitness issues don’t bode fantastically well, but at this stage let’s just cross our fingers and hope he can get a good run in the side for Espanyol.
This does highlight one obvious fact that seems to be overlooked in all the feverish transfer speculation: Assuming we advance against Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League playoff, Espanyol will likely play over 50 and possibly closer to 60 games before the season is over, and therefore we are going to see a lot of all members of the first team squad. There was and outcry over the weekend due to Darder starting on the bench, but there will be more than enough minutes for him this year. David Gallego needs a pool of at least 22 players, all of whom he can trust to perform.
Mundo Deportivo have raised their ugly head again to suggest that Florentino Pérez is thinking of paying the 40-million-euro clause in Marc Roca’s contract, in order to take him to Real Madrid. Then again, they will say literally anything, so we probably shouldn’t lose any sleep over it. It shames me to think I am willfully spreading this shameful piece of clickbait. Alas.
Tomorrow is a new dawn
Tomorrow evening Espanyol face Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine in the crucial Europa League playoff. It really is vital for the club to reach the group stage, as it has been too long since the last European adventure. A positive result would also go a long way to placating some of the more reactive supporters after Sunday’s disappointment. The squad will be announced before training this afternoon, with Adrià Pedrosa still an injury doubt. Join us tomorrow for a preview of that one. Cheers!