August has begun and Malaga are still struggling to put their squad together for the new season. Wednesday was a bittersweet day at La Rosaleda as the protracted transfer of Japan forward Shinji Okazaki was finally completed but also news filtered out that La Liga had been issuing warnings that Malaga are unable to register any new players, Okazaki included, because they have surpassed the wage cap limit.
La Liga have issued warnings to the Spanish Association of Football Agents that there are currently three professional clubs that cannot add to their squads without selling first. They are Malaga, Las Palmas and Granada. The first two are unsurprising, having both been relegated in the same year and failing to win promotion back at the first time of asking. The latter, however, comes as a bit of a shock with the Andalusian side having just earned promotion back to the big time.
This is not the first time that such restrictions have been inflicted on Malaga. Last season, Dani Pacheco, Badr Boulahroud, Mehdi Lacen, Mamadou Koné and Sead Hakšabanović missed the opening fixtures of the season because they couldn't be registered over salary cap breaches.
This time, however, Malaga will be hoping to solve the issue before the season starts. Despite having sold Roberto Rosales and Jack Harper this window, as well as terminating the contracts of Miguel Torres, Mehdi Lacen and Rajko Brežančić, more outgoings are still necessary. At the queue to the exit door currently are Jony (who has agreed a move to Lazio), Emanuel Cecchini (who is interesting MLS side Seattle Sounders), Federico Ricca (set to join Belgian side Bruges) and Javi Ontiveros (for whom a deal has been agreed with Villarreal). In all these cases, the club is awaiting the final thumbs up from president Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani. These deals, especially those for Ricca and Ontiveros, will free up considerable funds. The club is also hoping to find new homes for Juanpi, Michael Santos and Alfred N'Diaye but must work fast to allow time to bring in new recruits.
"I had a number of offers"
The first and only recruit so far has been Okazaki who told press at his presentation on Wednesday that he had "a number of offers" but that he knew that he wanted to join a Spanish team. "I feel like I've made the right choice," he said. "There's a lot of potential [here] and I feel at ease with this team."
Speaking in Japanese through a translator, the 33-year-old said: "I'm very excited about this project and I really want to score a lot of goals."
Okazaki will wear the number 23 shirt, one that is close to his heart. "I started out with this number and I've kept it whenever I've been able to."
Following the press conference, the forward posed for photographers in the full kit, albeit without boots which he left at the team hotel.