Transfer rumours

Real Madrid lead the pack as the window transfer window opens at midnight tonight. Capello has already tied up three young players from South America, Marcelo, Higuaín and Gago, and although the former may be loaned on to Castilla to gain experience, the other two could be drafted straight in to the side. Somebody will have to leave to make room though, and Cassano is resisting pressure for it to be him.

Otherwise the market is relatively quiet (with the noted exception of two East European number "9"s, Kerzakhov and Verpakovskis), many clubs preferring to wait and see how they do in January before changing their squads. That includes Betis, who enter their centenary year with Luis Fernández in charge after Irureta agreed terms to leave a few days ago, one of several managerial changes since our last report a couple of months ago. (31.12.06)