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Missed payments and denouncements – just what is going on at Malaga?
- Updated: 23 July, 2012
Last week saw the playing staff of Malaga CF return to pre-season training ahead of a campaign that should prove the most important in the history of the Andaluz club.
After a more than impressive fourth-placed finish last time out, Manuel Pellegrini’s men will now experience their first-ever foray into the Uefa Champions League and many suggest Malaga look best placed to provide the strongest challenge yet to the established duopoly at the top of the Spanish game.
So how did the week come to a close with the season threatening to implode before it has even begun, and suggestions rife that their best player, Santi Cazorla wants to quit after less than a year at the club?
Malaga have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons this week. It began with allegations made by AFE President Luis Rubiales, who claimed four players at the club were still owed between 35% and 40% of their salaries by their employers.
It was soon revealed the players in question were Cazorla, Joris Mathijsen, Salomon Rondon, and the recently-retired Ruud van Nistelrooy – with further reports suggesting both Cazorla and Rondon had told officials they no longer wanted to play for los Boquerones.
Then news emerged that Villarreal had finally lost patience and reported Malaga over an outstanding VAT payment, said to be around €3.5m, that they claim they are still owed for the sale of Cazorla last summer.
The Valencian outfit had already threatened legal action over the debt earlier this year, although an agreement then looked to have been reached after a series of negotiations between representative from both clubs. However, Villarreal now claim no payments have been received from Malaga and they have lodged an official complaint with Uefa.
German Bundesliga side Hamburg have also criticised Malaga recently over missed payments relating to the Mathijsen deal, and a temporary transfer ban was imposed on the club in January after it emerged Osasuna were still owed money as part of the Nacho Monreal transfer in June.
It hasn’t just been other clubs that appear to have been short-changed however, French midfielder Jeremy Toulalan is also said to have been less than impressed with his bosses and is believed to have threatened a walk-out unless he was paid wages he said were still outstanding.
The club gave complex administrative proceedings surrounding fund transfer from the middle-east as their defence, however the situation soon proved too much for Sporting Director Fernando Hierro, who promptly stepped down citing unhappiness at the ‘inner dealings of the club.’
Malaga’s situation is nothing new in Spanish football of course and fans of the club feel aggrieved by what they perceive as media assassination – pointing to the debt of clubs such as Atletico, Betis and Osasuna who are all reported to owe more money than Malaga yet seem to attract far less attention from the press.
However, the situation is beginning to escalate, with reports now suggesting another transfer embargo may be sanctioned after the most recent complaint rumoured to have been made by Osasuna.
Malaga released an official statement on their website on Friday, announcing an agreement had been reached to pay outstanding wages to their players, who in turn are said to have retracted their denouncement of the club.
However, the damage may already have been done, most notably in the case of Cazorla who has said very little since the latest situation began. Currently on an extended holiday, the 27-year-old was immediately linked with a host of big-name clubs – with English Premier League sides Arsenal and Tottenham featuring most prominent in the gossip columns.
Malaga officials were obviously quick to play down the spat and insisted Cazorla was going nowhere. That has done little to quell the speculation however, and many now wonder whether the club can fully repair the damaged relationship with their most influence player of last season.
It seems astonishing that a club bankrolled by billionaire benefactor Sheikh Al-Thani should find themselves in their current predicament, and it has left a bitter taste in the mouth for all those involved. A sense of uncertainty now surrounds the club and it is currently unclear as to how the situation will unfold.
Ultimately, only time will provide the answers but with just five weeks left until the start of the new season, time is something that Malaga do not have too much of.Follow @icentrocampista