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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Inside Spain: Dani Alves case, Kylian Mbappe-Erling Haaland futures and Chelsea eye new manager

Inside Spain is a weekly instalment brought to you by Football España, providing an insight into all of the major stories coming out of the rich and intense climes of La Liga and beyond. Warning: this article discusses a rape trial.

It was another chaotic week in Spanish football, where even the refereeing controversy was dropped down the agenda. Perhaps there is nowhere else to start than the most grim story, and also the most closely followed trial in Spain in some time.

Dani Alves finally sat in front of judge 13 months after he was taken into custody, facing a rape accusation. The trial lasted three days, saw 28 witnesses give testimony, and Alves break down in tears. He maintains his innocence, while the victim maintains that she did not consent to penetration – Alves will wait for his sentence which will arrive in the next month.

In less depressing news, Real Madrid appear to be advancing slowly but surely to the signature of Kylian Mbappe. It looks like they are close on the terms of a deal, with Mbappe’s initial demands being a €125m signing bonus, €50m per year in wages, and a large chunk of his image rights. *If* he does not arrive, then they will go all out for Erling Haaland, who is holding off Manchester City renewal talks just in case.

While they are shopping in France, they have also started looking at Lille wonderkid Leny Yoro. The 18-year-old is their top target to reinforce their defence, which has been destroyed by injuries this season. This week they are yet to train with a central defender, just two days out from their top of the table clash with Girona, who arrive at the Bernabeu just two points behind them.

Michel Sanchez’s work has been remarkable, and it has been no surprise to see him linked with the Barcelona and Newcastle United jobs over the last six months. Chelsea could be in the market for a manager come the summer, and Michel is a target for them too.

Barcelona Sporting Director Deco claims they have not spoken to anyone about the managerial vacancy in the summer, but Joan Laporta appears to prefer a coach from Germany; Julian Nagelsmann, Thomas Tuchel, Hansi Flick or Jurgen Klopp. He won’t get the latter in all likelihood. Deco’s choice is Porto coach Sergio Conceicao, whom he has shared a dressing room and an agent with – no prizes for guessing Jorge Mendes.

When they do decide on a coach, he will have to work on maintaining a squad that could be weakened. The Blaugrana will need to make sales this summer, and Ronald Araujo, Raphinha and Frenkie de Jong are all being mentioned as potential exits.

On the pitch, Atletico Madrid grabbed a 93rd minute equaliser to draw with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, Marcos Llorente silencing his old home. They were silenced by Athletic Club in a 1-0 home defeat in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final – their first since January of 2023, 28 games later. Perhaps the strangest story this week was at Vallecas though, where Sevilla beat Rayo Vallecano 2-1. As Lucas Ocampos wound up a long throw though, a rogue teenager leaned forward and poked up his behind, much to the shock of the fans and frustration of Ocampos.


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