Just days remain until transfer deadline (midnight on Monday 2 September) but after a scurry of action last week, it has been relatively quiet in the offices of La Rosaleda this week.
This, however, is just the calm before the storm as Alfred N’Diaye’s switch to Saudi Arabian side Al Shabab neared its conclusion on Thursday afternoon.
The midfielder was a key component of Malaga’s squad last season but with an obligatory purchase of six million euros written into the two-year loan agreement with Villarreal, the club have been working all summer to find a side willing to take on the deal to reduce the financial risk.
Getafe were initially willing to accept the deal on the same terms, but now Al Shabab have jumped to the front of the queue with an offer to buy the Senegal international outright.
This deal will free up Malaga to register new signings Shinji Okazaki and José Rodríguez. Last week’s sales of Javi Ontiveros and Michael Santos lifted the registration ban imposed on the Blue and Whites by La Liga, but the club were not permitted to declare a preference over which players were registered.
La Liga called for Malaga to register returning loan players first, which meant that Mikel Villanueva, Esteban Rolón, Keko and Juanpi were included in the squad for Saturday’s game against Las Palmas, as well as Cifu, who renewed his contract with the club after his previous one expired. This then left no space for Okazaki and Rodríguez who would have been coach Víctor Sánchez del Amo’s preference. Iván and Álex Mula, too, were left out;the pair also needed to re-register after signing professional contracts.
N’Diaye is not the only player on the exit ramp. Buyers are also being searched for a number of players, including the aforementioned Mikel, Rolón, Keko and Juanpi.
The latter’s case is the most urgent. Despite starring in Saturday’s game and earning praise from the coach, Juanpi’s salary (1.7 million euros this year) is much too high for a club of Malaga’s financial limitations.
The stumbling block so far, however, has been over an option to buy. A number of clubs seem willing to take the economic risk of covering his salary but will only do so if there is option to buy in any loan agreement.
The Venezuelan’s departure seems a formality, especially after his number 10 shirt was given to new signing Rodríguez and he was forced to wear 16 against Las Palmas.
Areas still to strengthen
Coach Víctor made no secret of his desire to strengthen in attacking areas. One player who seems set to arrive is Villarreal’s Simón Moreno.
The 22-year-old is surplus to requirements at Almeria where the new owners only want loan players with an option to buy.
Defence is another area over which there are massive doubts. At present only David Lombán (currently injured) is considered a nailed-on starter. Meanwhile, there has been interest from Turkey in Diego González and Deportivo Alavés in Luis Hernández. Should both leave, in addition to Mikel, that will leave just one recognised centre-back and one recognised left-back (Juankar).
On the wings, options are also scarce with just Renato Santos and Dani Pacheco among the senior ranks. Despite not featuring much at all under Víctor last season, Iván Alejo could make a return to the club from Getafe.
Between the sticks is another area that urgently needs strengthening after the news on Thursday that Cenk Gönen’s contract had been terminated. That leaves only youngsters Kellyan and Gonzalo as back-up to Munir who, as a full international with Morocco, will be missing for the upcoming game with Almeria on 9 September.