The future of Sandro Ramírez, Malaga’s leading scorer this season, remains well and truly up in the air. Signed from Barcelona last summer, his contract includes an attractive six-million-euro release clause which has interested Premier League clubs Tottenham Hotspur and Everton, as well as most recently, Atlético Madrid.
The player himself recognises that he needs to be playing at a higher level if he is to go on to represent Spain at the 2018 World Cup. However, despite interest from the Premier League, which would be much more lucrative for the 21-year-old, he has his sights set on staying in Spain and has expressed his wish to join Atlético.
However, the transfer ban laid down by FIFA and ratified by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) means that no move would be possible until 1 January 2018.
This, of course, leaves Atlético in a sticky situation, but it also has consequences for Malaga who would prefer to cut their losses immediately and be able to plan their summer’s recruitment. However, with Sandro keen not to rot on the sidelines (in a similar way to Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal at Barcelona), he wishes to stay at Malaga until the end of the year to maintain his form, but also repay some of the faith the club has shown in him.
This decision was welcomed by head coach Míchel who would be happy to have the player at his disposal for the first half of the campaign.
However, this would leave Malaga in need of a forward in January - a notoriously difficult window to bring in quality players - and this is where the deadlock is at present.
Malaga would like to sign the deal off immediately and receive the transfer fee up front so that they can bring in another forward in this window to reduce the risk of signing a player who may be out of shape, because of lack of involvement, on an inflated fee later down the line. A sale would also a potentially increase their salary cap for the season.
Atlético, however, would prefer to loan Malaga one of their players to sweeten the deal and reduce the eventual transfer fee. The names mooted, though, hardly set pulses racing. Most suited would be forwards Luciano Vietto (23) and Rafael Santos Borré (21), who spent this season on loan at Sevilla and Villarreal, respectively. Neither lived up to expectations and won’t be making their moves permanent.
Another option is Amath Ndiaye (20), a forward who has set Segunda alight, scoring a dozen goals in 33 appearances.
However, whatever happens, it looks almost certain that Sandro will be at the Wanda Metropolitano at the turn of the year. What happens in the meantime will be certainly be without precedence.
Never before in La Liga history has a player turned out for a side, knowing that he will be playing for a rival in the near future. How the fans will take to the situation is anyone’s guess.