El Centrocampista

Malaga yet to make decisive transfer move as Champions League debut nears

This time last year, Malaga’s Middle Eastern owners were splashing the cash in an attempt to transform their side into overnight title contenders. Whilst it may ultimately not have quite been enough to make them a serious threat to the big two, a fourth place finish and thus Champions League football was still a remarkable return on their investment.

However rather than looking forward to what promises to be an historic season, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani finds himself again at the centre of rumours about his finances – and judging by his outburst on Twitter last week, he has had enough. In an extraordinary attack, Al-Thani suggested that the reasons behind these doubts were entirely racial: “These attacks are because the owners of the clubs are Arabs”.

This is not the first time that there have been questions raised before about the Sheikh’s solvency. In March the club were on the verge of being excluded from European participation were they to qualify, for not paying transfer fees owed to Osasuna and Hamburg for Nacho Monreal and Joris Mathijsen respectively.

Last month general manager Fernando Hierro left the club in apparent frustration at the somewhat erratic way in which the owners settle their financial commitments, and in recent months taxes have not been paid in full to the Spanish Inland Revenue, although the debt is by no means on the same scale as that of many other La Liga clubs.

However there are still two hundred million reasons why the Sheikh has good cause to feel aggrieved. That is the sum in euros which has already been invested, and few believe that this will be the end of the spending spree. Although both striker Salomon Rondón and star midfielder Isco have been linked with moves away from La Rosaleda, the emphasis is very much on strengthening the squad, with a forward considered the main priority.

Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo has emerged as a leading target, with a fee of around €15 million considered likely to be enough to acquire his services at a time when ‘los nervionenses’ are facing up to another season without European football.

Tottenham’s Giovanni Dos Santos is also close to joining ‘los boquerones’, having enjoyed a relatively successful season on loan last year with Racing de Santander. In recent days Valencia’s Argentinian midfielder Tino Costa is another to have been linked with a move to the Costa del Sol, with a decision likely by the end of the week.

Nevertheless in spite of the need to reinforce in key areas, there is little room for manoeuvre until several of the 30 first team players currently under contract find other clubs. Apoño and Xavi Torres had impressive loan spells at Zaragoza and Levante respectively last season, but as yet no one has signed them permanently.

The likes of Edinho, Buonanotte and Sandro Silva are also considered surplus to requirements, but again no concrete offers have yet been received for them. With all those not involved in Euro 2012 expected to report back for training this Friday, it could be a busy week of comings and goings for the club, with less than three weeks to go before they learn the identity of their opponents in the Champions League third qualifying round.

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