A month now since our last report, and with just over four weeks to go to the end of the season, clubs are starting to think about their squads for next year. All eyes of course are on Real Madrid, who are already moving it seems to find a replacement for Carlos Queiroz. Their president Florentino Pérez has also finally recognised that they need to sign a defender or two as well as the odd extra-terrestrial, and possible even a couple of Spaniards such as Joaquín and Xabi Alonso. Argentina's first choice pairing Ayala and Samuel appear to be favourites for the defensive positions, but Chelsea may gazump them once again, and are reported to have made massive offers for both of them as well as for Joaquín. The newly rich English club are currently fishing in Spanish waters, and Madrid are so fed up with attempts to talk to their stars that they have sent them a list of the buy-out clauses of the whole squad, up to and including we imagine the gatemen, the coach driver, and the lady who washes the dishes in the club bar.
Madrid are also reported to be looking at two of Samuel's team mates at hard-up Roma, Totti and Emerson. They could have competition though from Barcelona for the Brazilian midfielder, who is a possible alternative if they can't persuade Davids to stay. The Catalans are also trying to sign a top name striker, with Trezeguet the first name on the list. Michael Owen could be an alternative though if he decides to leave, which could depend on Liverpool making the Champions League or not. All the rest are peanuts, but if a couple of big moves like the above do go through then that could catalyze the market, which has been fairly quiet in recent years, Beckhams and Ronaldinhos excepted. (27.04.04)