I want to go to there (or here. Even though Sergio’s no longer in Ibiza, it’s still beautiful enough that I wouldn’t mind)… but since it’s not time for me to take vacation yet, I’ll just have to stare wistfully at pictures like this one taken by Xabi Alonso and think how lucky I am that when it’s my turn, I’ll have football to watch while I’m relaxing “somewhere,” to quote Xabi.
That’s because our boys have been training hard in this first week of the pre-season.
On both Thursday and Friday, the team trained once in the morning and once in the afternoon. The nine first team players were joined by the 14 canteranos for the sessions, while Ricardo Carvalho had permission from the club to be absent (I copied that straight from the previous days’ reports). As for details, Ángel di María worked out in the gym in the Friday morning session, while Rubén Belima from RMC joined the team for the Thursday afternoon session.
Mou had to put his beloved clipboard under his shirt to keep it dry from the sprinklers, in case you were wondering why he suddenly seemed fuller in a certain area.
Álex, meanwhile, visited the children taking part in the summer campus of the Realmadrid Foundation after the Thursday afternoon session. The kids, whose ages ranged from seven to 17, got to ask Álex questions and get photographs/autographs from him.
We finally got a change from the monotony on Saturday, with only one training session (which was open to the press) and a press conference. As usual, the session ended with a partidillo (made up of two 30 minute halves), and this time around, Castilla (Juanfran, Mateos, Casado, Iván, Mosquera, Álex, Denis, Álvaro Borja Morata Martín and Lucas, plus Antonio Adán and Nuri Sahin) beat the first team (Higuaín, Lass, Kaká, Varane, Di María, Callejón and Granero plus Fabinho, Pacheco, Ríos and Nacho) 5-1. Jesús switched between the two teams. Higuaín scored for the seniors, while Lucas, Nuri Sahin (penalty), MFC ABMM and Denis (twice) for the freshmen. A great 40th birthday present for Castilla!
Jesús, Fernando and Antonio made my dream come true during this training session, because they were wearing the striped socks! Even though it’s no longer the bumblebee version from last season, I can’t wait to see Iker wear them! However, I’m not entirely convinced that will happen, so I’ll put it on my list of wishes for the season.
The team will now get two days off, as they won’t return to training until Monday afternoon.
At his press conference, El Piratita stressed that he had never considered leaving Madrid, and that he hopes to form a bigger part of José Mourinho’s plans this year: “I have not considered leaving and I have not considered repeating the same role (as last year). I want to be more of a protagonist, which is natural and something all players want. There’s no need to change teams in order to have a bigger role. It can be done here and I’m going to train hard for it, like I do each day. I hope to make a space for myself, to be important. I matured a lot during the past year, and so I’m better prepared this year. I have a lot of hope, just like I had in the past 15 seasons. I have a desire to learn.” When asked about how his contract renewal negotiations were going, Esteban said, “my renewal is not a problem. This is my 15th season and there’s no doubt that I want to be here. There won’t be any problems. If Madrid wants, I’ll be here for as long as they want me.” He also said Madrid is going to be the team to beat, and revealed his (philosophical) thoughts on the Ballon d’Or: “giving an award to a footballer is unjust because it’s a collective sport. A footballer by himself doesn’t have much meaning. Last season, there was a team that was above all the others, we broke many records and it seems just to me that the footballer who wins it comes from this team, which is ours.”
By the way, various teams, such as Zaragoza, are training on the beach. Why can’t we do that?
In other news, Raúl Albiol was made an honorary member of Club Deportivo Mercadal, a team that plays in the Baleares third division. Although Raúl was in Menorca on vacation, he was still working out most days (good boy), and he chose to do so at Mercadal, which is why the club decided to make him an honorary member. The club’s president, Antoni Palliser, presented El Chori with a club keychain, a club scarf, some typical products from the town of Es Mercadal and an ensaimada with the escudo of Real Madrid on it (made by the Pastisseria Ca’n Pons)! It looks delicious, no? Raúl is back home in Vilamarxant now beating Brian at padel.
In other news, Fernando Gago is going to Valencia. Fernando arrived in the city of Valencia on Thursday night, after his old club and his new club reached a pre-agreement. Since then, the signing has been made official. It’s been reported that Valencia will pay Madrid somewhere in the range of €3.5-5 million, and that Fernando accepted a pay cut, meaning he’ll “only” earn €1.5 million for each of the four seasons he’s set to play with Valencia. He told the press upon arrival in his hotel that he’s content and excited to play with Valencia. The next day, during his presentation, he said he doesn’t hold any grudges against Madrid. We’ll be seeing Fernando in about a month’s time, as Madrid is set to kick off this year’s Liga against Valencia.
During these negotiations, the issue of Sergio Canales was also discussed. Apparently Valencia wants him to continue with them for two more seasons, and since players are not allowed to be loaned out to one club for three consecutive seasons, the two clubs had to come to an agreement on a situation that both sides can accept. In other words, they have to agree on Canales becoming a Valencia player in all aspects, and Madrid is apparently asking for €8 million for that to happen. It’s also been reported that Madrid will have a buyback option in whatever contract is signed. I hope he has a chance to shine and triumph! I can’t help but feel that his career took a giant step backwards when he signed for Madrid, and then there were those two consecutive injuries with Valencia… pobrecito. He deserves good things.