La Liga is set to resume on 11 June with the Seville derby, with games set to be played every day until 19 July.
Spanish football was brought to a grinding halt back in March due to the COVID-19 crisis with plans for its return ramping up recently.
Players went back to training earlier this month, while broadcasting deals which will see the league broadcast live in England for the first time ever have also been agreed.
Following a meeting between all 42 First and Second Division Spanish clubs, a restart date of June 11 for both leagues has been confirmed (via Cadenaser). Spectators will be treated to an unprecedented feast of football over a five week period, with games being played every day until 19 July when the curtain comes down on the season.
After the Segunda División campaign has been completed, the promotion play off – contested between teams that finish between third and sixth position – will be played.
Prior to football’s enforced break, La Liga was finely poised. Leaders Barcelona – who dispensed of manager Ernesto Valverde back in January – were two points clear of Clasico rivals Real Madrid in second, while the race for Champions League qualification was also hotting up.
Third placed Sevilla and seventh placed Valencia were separated by just five points with surprise package Real Sociedad and Getafe both ahead of sixth placed Atletico Madrid. At the other end of the table, Espanyol were cut adrift in last position – a full six points from safety – with Leganes, Mallorca, Celta Vigo and Eibar also in relegation trouble.
While there will be no spectators to enjoy all this drama, television viewers will not be watching games in silence with plans to pump in crowd noise from previous fixtures being announced on Tuesday.
Real Madrid could offer Manchester United the chance to get up to four of their (unwanted, probably) players in exchange for the Paul Pogba.
Pogba was the subject of much transfer speculation last summer as he ultimately stayed at Old Trafford. However, after assisting two goals on the opening weekend, the 27-year-old has endured a season blighted by injury, making only five Premier League starts in 2019/20.
Real, who currently sit second in La Liga behind Barcelona, are looking to bolster their midfield – with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric both the wrong side of 30.
The Sun claims that Martin Odegaard, James Rodríguez, Lucas Vazquez and Brahim Diaz are each on the table for United, in return for Pogba. Both clubs have taken a financial hit from the suspension of play following the coronavirus outbreak and Real Madrid have turned to swap deals in a bid to save money and still get their deals done.
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has already spoken out about the unrealistic nature of huge transfer fees in the wake of this pandemic, although this has not dampened talk of Pogba’s exit.
The former France international Willy Sagnol recently revealed the advanced stage of Pogba’s negotiations with Real Madrid. He added fuel to the fire stoked by claims that Pogba will go to ‘war’ with the club to force through an exit in the summer.
While swap deals do pose an alternative to more traditional transfer transactions, they are incredibly rare, especially at the elite level of Manchester United and Real Madrid. A deal which can satisfy the needs of two players is complicated enough, not to mention the complexities involved in a swap of as many as five individuals.
Pogba may very well leave Manchester United in the upcoming transfer window, whenever that may be, but the likelihood of the Frenchman – and his highly valuable image rights – leaving the Premier League in exchange for four Real Madrid players, seems…well, slim.
Three Real Madrid rejects and a promising prospect for one of United’s best players? Dream on.
La Liga have confirmed that every match in June will be available for English viewers to watch for free.
LaLigaTV’s #BackToWin coverage will begin on 1 June with Guillem Balagué’s exclusive Talking Football interview with manager Mauricio Pochettino, before matches get underway later in the month.
In partnership with Premier Sports, league officials have confirmed that the 24/7 channel will be made free for Sky subscribers during the month of June – and non-Sky customers will also have the opportunity to sign up for a free month of the Premier Player app.
Sky subscribers in the UK can activate Channel 435 by visiting premiersports.com and registering their details with the promo code BACKTOWIN, and Non-Sky subscribers can also use the same promo code when they sign up for the Premier Player service.
11 June, when Sevilla face rivals Real Betis, has been earmarked as the return date for competitive action, but before then, LaLigaTV will show exclusive daily programming including replays of classic matches from the past two decades of La Liga, as well as interviews and daily specials about football’s return.
There are plenty of enthralling storylines in La Liga to get excited about. Not only will fans be able to catch the title race between Real Madrid and Barcelona, but there are also plenty of teams battling for Champions League qualification and a tense relegation battle, so there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The Mirror add that late-afternoon and evening matches will be shown every day of the week, and weekends will also see games played late at night to ensure the season finishes as soon as possible.
Since the postponement of Spanish football in March, LaLigaTV has featured a variety of innovative programming, including a weekly #LaLigaClassics Fan Pick of the Week, in which fans get to select a top match from the past two decades; as well as new shows such as #StayAtHome and La Liga Nations.
LaLigaTV has also broadcast live events including the #LaLigaSantanderChallenge eSports tournament, won by Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio, as well as the #LaLigaSantanderFest live benefit concert, which raised over €1m to help combat COVID-19.
It’s astonishing to think that Ferran Torres only turned 20 fairly recently.
The Valencia forward has already made 88 senior appearances for the club he grew up supporting, with 35 coming this season. In 2019/20, he has managed six goals and seven assists, and while these aren’t exactly phenomenal figures, Torres has developed into a very well-rounded player.
Torres’ progression, both for his club and on the international scene at varying age groups, has led to him attracting plenty of attention. The Spaniard has been linked with pretty much every top European club this season, and interest in him has only grown as a result of his contract situation.
He only has just over one year remaining on his current deal and is said to have rejected a number of new offers from his club to extend his stay. Within his current deal, he has a €100m release clause, but the Athletic have reported that Torres could depart this summer (or whenever the transfer window opens) for ‘significantly’ less.
This is because Valencia were already in a ‘tricky’ position financially prior to the coronavirus and had accepted that they would need to sell some important players this summer. As well as this, the club also don’t want to run the risk of allowing Torres to enter into the final 12 months of his deal, and potentially depart for almost nothing.
With this in mind, we have decided to take a look at Torres’ options and decide which move would suit him best…
One option is Barcelona and in many ways, it makes a lot of sense. Torres has grown up in Spain and the chance to remain (fairly) close to his family and friends could be very appealing and important to a young player like Torres is.
Of course, Barça have also held an interest in him for quite some time now, with the Catalan giants pushing to sign him back when Torres was just 17. The timing wasn’t right then, but with just over a year remaining on his current deal, it could suit both parties. It is even said that Torres could be keen to hear what Barça have to offer now.
La Blaugrana have the likes of Ousmane Dembele at their disposal, but the Frenchman has very much struggled with injuries. The club are crying out for a player like Torres and while they may be hoping he can make an instant impact, Torres could be eased into the first team.
In other ways, however, it makes very little sense.
Barça are a club struggling financially and politically. The unrest and hostile atmosphere could immediately deter a player, while the pressure that would be placed on Torres upon his arrival also wouldn’t be beneficial for his career.
Assessment: It would be illogical. Don’t do it, Ferran.
How many wingers do Real Madrid want?
Los Blancos boss Zinedine Zidane appears to be keen on rebuilding his ageing side and could look to offload a number of more experienced members of the squad when the transfer window opens. Real have already been linked with a number of exciting young talents, and Torres is also on this list.
Familiar with the style of play in La Liga, Torres may not necessarily need too much time to adjust, something that has proven to be very challenging for Luka Jovic. However, while he would be a shrewd investment for Real, it wouldn’t be the greatest move for the player himself.
Limited opportunities and a great deal of pressure could halt his progression. It is a move that would suit Torres in two or three seasons, after he has taken the next step in his career.
Assessment: Being a part of the rebuild could be appealing, but it’s just a bit too soon.
Why wouldn’t a player want to join Liverpool?
Soon-to-be (if the season does get back underway) Premier League champions as well as last season’s winners of the Champions League, Liverpool are a dominant force in Europe, all the while playing penetrating, free-flowing football.
The Reds have shown an interest in Torres and this is understandable as he would fit into Jurgen Klopp’s style of play. His physical attributes and ability to be direct are qualities that would benefit him in the Premier League, while his work ethic, versatility and understanding of the game would also make him a good fit in Klopp’s squad.
The problem, however, is game time…again.
Unless any of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino departs, when is Torres going to be given a run of games in the starting lineup? Of course, if one player were to sustain an injury, it would be a different story, but it would be hard to envisage a scenario where Torres would be satisfied with the playing time he would receive if he moves to Anfield.
This is a player with tremendous potential and he will require regular game time if he is to reach the heights so many expect he can.
Assessment: Sure, it’s appealing, but it wouldn’t be what Torres needs.
Manchester City have – yep, you’ve guessed it – also been linked with Torres. In City’s case, they are searching for a potential replacement for Leroy Sane, who could be on his way out of the club.
Torres would be an excellent addition and it is a frightening to think about how much further Torres could improve under the guidance of Pep Guardiola. The Spanish forward would slot effortlessly into the squad, operating with a similar technical ability and understanding of the game to the likes of Bernardo Silva and David Silva, while also possessing lightning quick pace.
Manchester City should be considering making a move – and fast – for this talented Spaniard, but the issue of playing time once again arises as there is plenty of competition for places in the City squad.
Torres has proven during his career thus far that he isn’t a player to shy away from a challenge and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him take the risk of moving to the Etihad if an offer came in for him, considering the improvements he could make to his game by learning from those around him.
Assessment: Would be a risk, but could be an excellent decision for both parties.
Torres fits the profile of an Ole Gunnar Solskjaer/Football Manager-type signing. And while Man Utd have – and will continue to be – linked with almost every player in world football, they have been keeping tabs on the youngster for some time.
Torres would slot into a fluid front three, which would suit him, while he would also be expected to be competing for a starting spot at Old Trafford.
But there’s one major problem.
The Borussia Dortmund man is one of United’s priority signings this summer and their efforts will go towards landing him in what could be a mammoth deal. The Red Devils are right to be considering players such as Torres as an alternative should they fail to bring Sancho in, while he would also represent a much cheaper alternative.
His style of play would work well at United and, in theory, it is a move that makes complete sense – but it may well be contingent upon whether the club land their first-choice target. Fans may also be keen to see United bring in more than one winger in order to increase their attacking options, but the financial impact of COVID-19 must also be recognised.
Assessment: Would suit both parties, but he isn’t United’s top priority.
Completing the list are Borussia Dortmund. The Germans are very keen on Torres, and they are even said to have recently made the first proper move for him, as Bild reported (via the Daily Mail) that they have made a bid of around £34.8m for his services.
Could he be Jadon Sancho’s replacement?
The truth is, he could very well be, with 90min still being told that United remain intent on securing a deal for the Englishman. But equally, if Sancho were to stay put for whatever reason, this shouldn’t impact BVB in their efforts to sign Torres.
Dortmund, of course, have built up a reputation of developing young talents and giving them the platform they need to shine, and this must be an attractive proposition for Torres. Equally, he would get regular game time, while he would also be playing Champions League football. Capable of playing on the left, on the right and up front, he would be an excellent fit and it would be the most logical place for him to continue developing.
Whether Sancho stays or he goes, Dortmund should come back in with another offer for Torres. Should Sancho complete his switch to Man Utd, Torres would be a worthy replacement.
Real Madrid are said to be considering a move for standout Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi, as Zinedine Zidane looks to add depth to his defensive midfield options.
Los Blancos only have one natural defensive midfielder, Casemiro, in their squad following the departure of Marcos Llorente to Atletico Madrid last summer. Real have previously been linked with a move for Rennes’ Eduardo Camavinga, but could be put off by his €75million price tag.
Now, according to Fichajes, Ndidi has emerged as a possible target for Real Madrid. The Nigerian international has been a key player for Leicester City since his arrival from Genk in 2017, making 130 appearances in three-and-a-half years.
He has been particularly important to Leicester’s successful 2019/20 campaign, with Brendan Rodgers’ side currently sitting in third place and looking a safe bet to qualify for the Champions League. His importance to the Foxes was demonstrated by the fact they failed to win any of the five league games he was absent from.
Ndidi’s impressive displays have naturally caught the eye of other Premier League clubs, with Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal all being linked with moves for him. He has insisted, however, that he is enjoying his football at Leicester and has no desire to leave. The Nigerian is also tied down to a contract until 2024.
Should the continuation of the Premier League be given the all-clear, Leicester have nine remaining games to secure a Champions League spot for only the second time in their history.
They have a relatively kind end-of-season run-in, facing the likes of Watford, Brighton and Bournemouth, with the only ‘top-six’ sides they have to play being Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal – all teams who currently sit below Leicester in the Premier League table.
To have any hope of sealing the deal, Leicester will need Ndidi to be fit and firing – though they’ll be wary of impressive performance only further Real’s, and any other interested parties, interest.