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Malaga still hopeful, but making preparations for life in Segunda

Ignasi Miquel was signed with the predicament in mind.
Ignasi Miquel was signed with the predicament in mind. / S. SALAS
  • With just 15 games of the season left, the club is preparing for the best case scenario... and the worst

Though relegation is not a topic anyone around La Rosaleda is willing to discuss, plans are being made behind the scenes to ensure that the club is prepared for the summer, whether they stay in La Liga or otherwise.

Work is already under way in identifying potential targets for the summer transfer window, assessing players' qualities, levels of professionalism and leadership. This, however, is occurring on two fronts but given the club's limited resources, there is plenty of overlap in those identified.

As we have already seen this in the January window, sporting director Mario Husillos brought in midfielders Mehdi Lacen and Manuel Iturra and defender Ignasi Miquel with the idea that they would be involved with the squad next season, come what may.

Lacen and Iturra are both in the twilight of their careers, but the club believes they are of sufficient level to compete in the top flight, but not above playing in Segunda.

Miquel, likewise, was recruited from Lugo. Though he is a promising player, he still has plenty of room for development before he can establish himself as a La Liga player.

In a similar vein, academy products Javi Ontiveros and Álex Mula were loaned out to teams in the second division with the idea that they could adapt to the league ahead of a possible campaign there next year.

This type of foresight is what attracted owner Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani to bring back Husillos. The sheikh was unhappy with former sporting director Francesc Arnau principally for overlooking the possibility of the drop.

Under his watch, Arnau renewed the contract of Juanpi without including a 50 per cent decrease in wages in the event of relegation (a clause which all players have). The same occurred with Federico Ricca and Michael Santos, who came in as a result of a favour to agent Paco Casal who facilitated the arrival of Chory Castro. But for the sheikh's intervention, more Uruguayan players were set to move to the Costa.

The futures of Juanpi, Ricca and Santos will be a major headache in the summer should Malaga go down. Despite Santos, who is currently on loan at Sporting Gijón, bagging 12 goals to make him Segunda's third leading scorer, his inflated wages would threaten the already delicate wage structure.

So just as the dust starts to settle on a manic transfer window, there is plenty still to be done, whether Malaga do beat the drop, or as looks increasingly likely, they go down.