Transfer news

With the two week international break upon us, clubs are starting to think about whether they need reinforcements this winter. The transfer window is due to open within six weeks or so, and rumours are starting to fill the pages of the news hungry sporting press. Espanyol for example have already begun their hunt for two or three new players, and they have already tied up Iván De la Peña, who being unemployed will be rejoining with immediate effect. They are also looking for a striker, but with Spanish league rules prohibiting players from moving to teams in the same division if they have played five or more games with their club, they may have to look abroad.

The big question though is whether Real Madrid will sign a new defender or not. Having already burned their fingers last summer with Ayala, they are keeping their cards close to their chest, but we expect them to take on somebody (maybe from South America?) before the end of January. Talking of Ayala, he may be on his way to Chelsea, although the Lodon club's players are trying to convince Mr. Abramovic not to sign anyone else.

There have of course been several managerial changes since we last published these pages, particularly in the second division where Poli Ejido's Quique Setien became the sixth victim shortly before we went to press. Only two teams in the top flight have changed their coaches though, Mallorca bringing back Luis Aragonés in place of Pacheco and Espanyol reluctantly removing Javier Clemente and replacing him with Athletic Bilbao's old boss Luis Fernández. (21.11.03)

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