Blogs & Opinion


Guillem Balague:

Most Popular Posts:

Recent Comments:

Cem Takaci on Making his mark

"Hi Guillem, all of this hype sourounding jose mourinho and the saying that the wave is swinging for real madrid right now. But once Jose leaves and it does seem that he will if not this... " View all comments

Siyavuya Zamxaka on Awesome foursome

"wonderfull column as always...I think Madrid have a better chance of winning the Cup game in all of these 4 games. This is because Mourinho can play any system and not worry about how ... " View all comments

Guillem Balague blogs on futures of Suarez, Villa and Higuain

Guillem Balague - Guillem Balague Posted 3rd June 2013 view comments

I will remember a lot from the 2012/13 La Liga season.

The returns from illness of Eric Abidal and Tito Vilanova stick in my mind, as does the guard of honour newly-crowned champions Barcelona received at the Vicente Calderon and the fact Lionel Messi scored against everyone in the first leg of the season.

Villa: interesting Atletico Madrid and Tottenham, says Guillem

Villa: interesting Atletico Madrid and Tottenham, says Guillem

But the most defining memory was as early as week 13 when Real Madrid lost at Real Betis and Barcelona crushed Levante 4-0 to effectively end the title race.

There is plenty more to discuss, though, so read on for my thoughts on some of the big La Liga stories and what is sure to be a busy summer in the transfer market...

BARCELONA

The arrival of Neymar has had its first consequence.

There were strong rumours that Cesc Fabregas wanted to leave Barcelona and that Barcelona would consider selling him - but despite interest from Chelsea, Man City, Man United and Arsenal and Arsenal, the Catalans have no intention of letting him go.

They will have to say this publicly, though, to calm everybody down and reassure Fabregas about his position, but his buyout clause of 200million Euros for everyone accept Arsenal - it is 40million for the Gunners - means he will wear the Barcelona shirt next season.

David Villa could have gone to Arsenal on a four-year deal in January but now has an offer on the table from Atletico Madrid, as well as a two-season deal with Tottenham. Arsenal are delaying an approach for now, but Villa would prefer to go to the Premier League.

Thiago Alcantara is also seriously considering leaving Barcelona; nobody is telling him what his role at the club will be next season, and the interest from Man United and Man City will continue with the 22-year-old's buyout clause being 18million until August 1.

Tito Vilanova's future is not totally clear, either, and a Barcelona director has said that the future of the club is in the hands of Tito's wife as she and his family have to decide whether the Barca boss is strong enough to continue.

If Tito is not, the club is preparing a plan B and both Luis Enrique and Ernesto Valverde, amongst others, have been contacted, and there doubts in the players' minds about whether Vilanova will lead them next year.

Victor Valdes, meanwhile, has explained why he will leave the Camp Nou in 2014: he wants a new life somewhere else. The real reason? He has never felt looked after, protected and recognised by the club and fans and media.

Pepe Reina and Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen have had the call from Barcelona and the club has to decide whether one, or both, of those players will come in - and if Valdes leaves.

REAL MADRID

Real's problems this year stemmed from pre-season when the players came back with the wrong attitude and did not have the same hunger and commitment as in their title-winning season of 2011-12, while the signings of Luka Modric and Michael Essien did not help.

Madrid, who had lost the same number of games by the end of November as they did in the whole of the previous campaign, want to replace Mourinho with Paris-Saint Germain boss Carlo Ancelotti - but the French club are not making it easy.

Florentino Perez - who should be the only candidate in Real's presidential elections - won't wait forever and Jupp Heynckes' is Real's second choice - but everybody expects Ancelotti to be Madrid's next manager as PSG have an agreement with Laurent Blanc.

On the player front, the message I am getting from Luis Suarez is that he has no agreement with Madrid... yet. However, Real are willing to pay his buyout clause (£40million).

He doesn't want to go back to Anfield, but I don't totally believe the excuse of the media behaviour.

He has become the villain of the piece but I think his efforts to move have to do with him wanting to play the Champions League - and the intelligent Liverpool fans (the majority), even though they are hurt, seem to understand that.

Gareth Bale, meanwhile, will be the saga of the summer. Real Madrid will try to get him, Spurs will demand £80 million. The player doesn't want to force his way out a la Modric, so we are going to hear a lot about this one.

Gonzalo Higuain, meanwhile, has said he wants to leave the Bernabeu and is in advanced conversations with Juventus; the Italians are also interested in Suarez but the Uruguyan is almost double the price of the Argentine.

OTHER STORIES

Athletic Bilbao boss Marcelo Bielsa's cycle is over and he will not continue at the club; he is so demanding and after two years he has left everybody physically and mentally exhausted. Bielsa is an extraordinary coach who can get the best out of any squad, especially a modest one, but he will probably not work at a club where there are egos.

Valencia manager Valverde has said goodbye to his players and could be replaced by Real Vallodolid coach Miroslav Dukic, but striker Iago Aspas (pictured) will be saying hello to Liverpool if he completes his move from Celta Vigo.

Aspas who has lots of talent but perhaps not the consistency just yet, could be joined at Anfield by Sevilla youngster Luis Alberto, but depends on whether his current loan club, Barcelona B, activates a clause in his deal.

If Alberto does go to Liverpool, though, the fans will see an offensive midfielder/forward that can play in two out of the three positions in a 4-3-3, behind the striker or as a false nine.

Plus, Sevilla's Jesus Navas could go to Man City to for £25million, plus £5 million in variables. Watch this space...

Comments (1)

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Wajid Iqbal (Manchester United fan) says...

I really hope Thiago comes to Manchester United and does not slip through the net like Ronaldinho, Benzema & Bale.

Posted 09:20 4th June 2013

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Add Comment*

Send us your views

Are you a Sky Sports subscriber?

*All fields required, your email address will be kept private

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Latest News RSS feeds

Chelsea in good shape for PSG

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is likely to have a strong squad to select from for their Champions League game with Paris Saint-Germain.

'Let's throw some punches'

New Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood says he is planning to install a more attacking approach at the club.

LVG: We must sign a midfielder

Louis van Gaal has confirmed that Manchester United will attempt to sign a creative midfield player this summer.

Live transfer updates

Live transfer news as Louis van Gaal makes the signing a creative midfielder his top priority this summer.

Bony trains with new team-mates

Wilfried Bony has trained with Man City for the first time after winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast.

Features

Tim Sherwood's to-do list: Five things the new Aston Villa manager must make a priority if he is to succeed

Tim Sherwood's to-do list: Five things the new Aston Villa manager must make a priority if he is to succeed

As Tim Sherwood settles into his first day at work as Aston Villa manager, the challenge of keeping the Premier League perennials in the top flight begins.

Pogba? Verratti? Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal wants a creative midfielder but who should he sign?

Pogba? Verratti? Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal wants a creative midfielder but who should he sign?

Only a fortnight after the transfer window closed, Louis van Gaal has set tongues wagging again by admitting that Manchester United need to sign a creative midfielder.

Xabi Alonso impressing at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola and eyeing a third Champions League medal

Xabi Alonso impressing at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola and eyeing a third Champions League medal

Adam Bate looks at Xabi Alonso's fine form with Bayern Munich and why he can make history this season.