Real Madrid were shocked to hear of Manchester United's interest in Sergio Ramos, but they now know the interest is genuine.
* Sergio Ramos wants to leave Real Madrid and join Manchester United. The relationship between the central defender, who has been at the club for a decade, and the president Florentino Pérez has become extremely tense. Ramos has two years left on his contract and negotiations have been at a stalemate for months now, but this is not just a case of using interest from abroad to get a better deal. Ramos’s desire to leave is real.
So far Manchester United have made one bid, valued at 40m euros. Madrid would expect a fee closer to 100m. But then there is David De Gea to consider. In fact, United first informed Madrid or their interest in Ramos during a meeting which Madrid expected to be routine and in which they hoped to be told a fee for De Gea. They were surprised when Ramos’s name was brought up. If they did not think United were serious then, they know now.
Madrid are determined to sign the goalkeeper, who has only one year left on his contract, but United will use him as leverage and are equally determined to sign Ramos. If they do not get him, they are prepared to try to force De Gea to stay. This may well get nasty — it has already, in fact — and the outcome is uncertain, but Ramos and United want him to be at Old Trafford for the start of the season.
* Picture the scene: your goalkeeper is on the floor, head in hands, while the opposition’s striker, the man you most love to hate, playing for the team you most hate, the man you have been whistling all game, is running off celebrating, a huge grin on his face. All around you, fans look devastated. Your manager is furious. And as for your owner, he is …. smiling. Yes, really. Well, maybe.
This week it was announced that Pete Lim has bought 50% of Cristiano Ronaldo’s image rights. Which would not be so remarkable, except that Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid and Lim is the owner of Valencia.
* Speaking of Valencia, nice of them to keep the British coach quota up. Not long days after assistant coach Ian Cathro announced that he was leaving the club, and just a few days after his destination was revealed to be Newcastle, Valencia announced a new assistant for Nuno: Phil Neville.
* Sergio García was in tears. So much so that he had to leave the room during his press conference to announce his departure from Espanyol. He’s off to Qatar.
* “Footballer Not Keen to Run Around Much Seeks Well Paid Job at Big Football Club.” Arda Turan says that he wants to leave Atlético Madrid. One of the reasons is that they run too much there, his agent says. Which may not be the greatest sales pitch ever.
* Election time at Barcelona and one name is inescapable: Paul Pogba. “The key is Raiola and I know him very well,” said candidate Joan Laporta.
* As Huecsa celebrated their promotion from Spain’s Second Division B to the Second Division, one player took the microphone to deliver a message to the crowd that was a little bit different.
Jose Manuel Rojas asked his girlfriend Elena to marry him. He had promised that they would get married if his team were promoted the year before when he was at Albacete but in the end he didn’t do so. “I told him he had missed his chance,” Elena said. But another promotion, this time with Huesca, did the trick. This time José Manuel didn’t let her down.