As expected, Real Madrid were active in the winter transfer market this week for the first time in several seasons, the unsettled Morientes making his move to Liverpool and Portillo being recalled from his loan at Fiorentina to replace him. And only hours afterwards they finally agreed terms with the man the Spanish press are calling "the Ogre" or "Shrek", Everton's Thomas Gravesen, who is expected to give them the fighting spirit they have been lacking in midfield since Makelele left. Their number one rivals Barcelona have still not made their move though, with their latest target Iaquinta proving a difficult fish to land as Udinese upped the asking price to 12 million. John Carew is still an alternative though for the striker's spot, and there is talk once again of Edgar Davids returning as the other options for a defensive midfielder fall through.
Elsewhere Málaga and Almería both changed their managers, B team coach Antonio Tapia taking over from Gregorio Manzano just days after he signed Michel from Murcia, and Alfonsín stepping in as caretaker after the second division club sacked Castro Santos. Mallorca completed their fourth signing, Italian international defender Iuliano joining Héctor Cúper, and Santi returned to his old club Albacete, presumably to play out the rest of his career. The second division's bottom club Córdoba completed their ninth signing of the transfer window, although they are so far adrift of the rest that is unlikely to make much difference. (14.01.05)