El Centrocampista

Malaga get ready for a historic season among the footballing elite

It is just over a month until Malaga kick off in their first competitive match of a season which comes with great promise. The match in question is an tricky away tie against newly promoted Celta Vigo, however a win could provide momentum for the real test, a two-legged encounter which will decide whether Malaga get to compete in the Champions League proper. Alhough the opposition is yet unknown by being a Spanish qualifier it is likely to be tough.

On the domestic front Malaga fans can be optimistic. Although there have been no new signings as yet, the fixture list has been gentle to the Andalucians. After the trip to Vigo they host Mallorca, travel to Zaragoza and then host last year’s surprise team Levante. Their first four games are all winnable and that  is a realistic aim; the first big domestic test is a trip to Bilbao in late September.

Surprisingly Manuel Pellegrini is yet to dip his toes in the transfer market despite having more than enough financial muscle to do so. The main investment, will most probably come in the forward area where Van Nistelrooy has retired and Salomon Rondon continues to be linked with moves away from the club. Rondon is the only striker at the club who has returned a decent amount of goals, leading to some concern over that area of the squad.

Although the club scored a similar amount of goals to their rivals and the teams around them last season, they relied heavily on goals from the midfield and wide men. When their closest rivals are boasting the likes of Fernando Llorente, Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Negredo and Radamel Falcao it is easy to see the weakness. Rondon has potential and has shown flashes of genius however it would surely be wise, especially as he may leave, to invest in a proven goalscorer.

The club have been linked heavily with Nicklas Bendtner in recent weeks who could prove a shrewd signing if he fulfils the promise displayed in flashes at Arsenal. Maybe Pellegrini could succeed where Arsene Wenger largely failed and coax the 24-year-old into reaching his undoubted potential. However the Dane would also be a huge gamble – especially if Rondon was to leave.

They have also been linked with Emmanuel Adebayor who unfortunately now appears to be joining Tottenham after the North London side agreed terms with Manchester City today. A player of Adebayor’s calibre would surely have been a better option than Bendtner.

The club’s pre- season tour sees them travel in Venezuela where they face three local sides next week, before travelling back to Europe to face Juventus, Olympiakos and Everton. Alhough it is hard to draw a much from friendlies the latter three games should be relatively competitive, and will be an interesting barometer of Malaga’s shape ahead of the new campaign.

Regardless of what happens in the next month or so, be it on the transfer front or in pre-season friendlies, the focus must be on hitting the ground running and getting a positive result in the first leg of the Champions League qualifying round. Failure to reach the Champions League proper could cast a shadow over the entire season and immediately see the club take a step backwards.

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