The start of the winter transfer window is just over a month away and yet Malaga are set to announce a new signing in the coming days.
Following news that left-back Juankar has been ruled out for the rest of the season with knee ligament damage, the club is hoping to secure the signing of a versatile defender “within the next 48 hours”, head coach Míchel told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.
It had originally been decided that the club would not be reinforcing that position with both Federico Ricca and Miguel Torres set to return to fitness by the New Year, but “the market has moved quickly”, he said.
In their recruitment planning meeting on Tuesday, head coach Míchel and sporting director Mario Husillos agreed that bringing in a stop-gap signing for effectively three games made little sense, especially given the side's more pressing concerns. However, this player, whose identity has not yet been made public, can play anywhere across the backline, therefore satisfies the need for cover for Juankar as well as in the middle.
A midfield enforcer
Since the end of the summer, Míchel has pinpointed central defence and holding midfield as priority positions. With the former seemingly addressed, players will need to be sold to supplement the less than two million euros in the transfer kitty to bring in a number six.
As part of the so-called 'operación salida', Malaga are looking to offload three players: Cenk Gonen, Emanuel Cecchini and Cifu.
Goalkeeper Cenk, who joined from Galatasaray in the summer after the departure of Carlos Kameni, finds himself third choice, behind Roberto and Andrés Prieto in the pecking order. It is understood that neither his level of performance nor his attitude in training have been acceptable. Not only were his performances poor during preseason, the club has also been concerned by his injury record.
A high-risk signing
The keeper was considered a high-risk signing in the summer given how little he had played since the 2012-13 season with 8, 2, 9, 1 and 0 league appearances, respectively. Regardless of this, he was signed to a three-year contract, effectively as “compensation” for Kameni's move (Cenk's agent was also brokering the Cameroonian's transfer).
Since his arrival, his contribution has been minimal, putting paid to the idea of seeking a loan move for Prieto, who joined from Espanyol in the summer, to gain first-team experience. Instead, Prieto has established himself as the second-choice stopper, deputising admirably for Roberto in Malaga's 0-2 defeat at the Camp Nou in October, as well as featuring in both Copa del Rey ties.
A return to Argentina
Cecchini, also a summer signing, was the second player to be told that he could move on this week. The purchase of the midfielder, who joined to great fanfare from Banfield, was considered a coup, but the Argentinian has only played 28 minutes of league football so far and is considered surplus to requirements having failed to adjust to the required intensity.
Given Malaga's negative experiences with loaning players to 'inferior' European leagues, the best option here could be a return to his homeland where his stock and interest in him is still high.
The third player searching for a new club is right-back Cifu, who joined from Elche in 2016 before being sent on a season-long loan to Girona. However, since his return, he has made just four appearances (two in the cup) and looks unlikely to dislodge Roberto Rosales as Míchel's first choice.