Morning all, as the uneasy presence of the Granada game starts to fade into the mists, we’ve got a double bill for you today.
The deals are done
The transfer window creaked shut on Monday, and it was a quiet day of reflection in the head offices at RCDE stadium. Even poor Pipa, widely expected to go out on loan, ended up staying and should play the majority of his football with the B team. The good news is that there were no additions to the list of departed stars like Borja Iglesias and Mario Hermoso. On the other hand, the lack of options at Gallego’s disposal in the right wing position wasn’t addressed. In the polarised world of football this all means that either:
A. The club was well organised and handled their business ahead of the traditional late-window supermarket sweep.
B. The club has cashed in on prize assets and failed to replace them adequately.
Time will tell, of course, which narrative will be followed. It is worth noting that Espanyol were only 50% co-owners of Mario Hermoso, along with Real Madrid, and so accordingly only received half of his transfer fee. The club is also still in the process of freeing itself from the shackles of debt, which amounted to 180 million euros at the time of Chen’s takeover three years ago, and has since been reduced to 40 million euros. La Liga has employed a salary cap for the past seven years, in an attempt to stop clubs from accumulating too much debt. By reducing its debt, the club has effectively raised its salary limit, and is no longer required to offload players to the first buyer, as happened in the past with former youth products like Joan Jordán and Pau López. In the summer of 2017, Jordán was sold to Eibar for €1m, while Pau, in the final year of his contract, was loaned to Spurs for a fee of €1.1m before leaving on a free transfer to Betis a year later. This summer, Jordán made a €14m move to Sevilla, while Pau was sold to Roma for €23.5m, having made his debut for the Spanish national team last November. In this context, the sales of Hermoso and Iglesias could be seen as a roaring success.
The probable 25-man RCD Espanyol squad for the 2019-20 season, then, is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Diego López, Andrés Prieto.
Right-backs: Sébastien Corchia, Javi López.
Left-backs: Adrià Pedrosa, Dídac Vilà.
Centre-backs: Naldo, Fernando Calero, Bernardo, Lluís López.
Centre-midfielders: Marc Roca, David López, Sergi Darder, Víctor Sánchez, Esteban Granero, Ander Iturraspe, Pol Lozano.
Right wingers: Óscar Melendo, Javi Puado.
Left wingers: Matías Vargas, Pablo Piatti.
Strikers: Wu Lei, Jonathan Calleri, Facundo Ferreyra, Víctor Campuzano.
Romania vs Spain
We are in the midst of the dreaded first international break of the season. As previously discussed, this should be seized on by Gallego as an opportunity to put things right on the training pitch.
The Spanish national team entered a new era when Luís Enrique was appointed as head coach last July. His tenure, however, was to be curtailed by personal tragedy. He officially relinquished his post in June this year, handing the reins to his assistant, Robert Moreno. Moreno has worked as assistant to Enrique throughout his managerial career; at Roma, Celta Vigo and Barcelona, before the national team. He has effectively led the side since the time of the 0-2 victory over Malta in March, but this will be his first match since being named as head coach.
Moreno’s first squad, announced last Friday, does include a few surprises. Unai Núñez (Bilbao), Fabián Ruíz (Napoli), Dani Ceballos (Arsenal) and Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad) have all been rewarded for their leading roles Spain’s victorious Euro under-21 campaign earlier this summer. Suso (AC Milan) may not have been expecting the call, while Pablo Sarabia (PSG) could make his international debut. Established internationals such as Isco, Iago Aspas, Santi Cazorla, Álvaro Morata, Diego Costa, Koke and Iñigo Martínez have all been overlooked this time, while Marco Asensio is missing through injury. La selección is never short of options.
Spain are in the familiar position of leading their qualifying group for next year’s European championships, with an unblemished record. Last time out, they romped to a 3-0 victory over Sweden at the Bernabéu, and they will be confident of adding to their tally this week. This evening they face Romania in Bucharest, before welcoming the Faroe Islands to Gijón on Sunday.
Moreno, who made his name as a scout, and has written a book titled “My 4-4-2 recipe” is, somewhat incongruously, expected to send the team out in a 4-3-3 formation against the Romanians.
We’ll be back tomorrow to see how they got on. For now, enjoy these images from last night’s training session. Cheers!