Transfer rumours

Pending the outcome of the Cristian Ronaldo saga, this looks like being one of the quietest summers on record for the transfer market. The economic crisis appears to be hitting home in Spain, with Barcelona the only club to really "flash the cheque book" up to now. The €93 million laid out by the Catalan club on their six new signings represents almost 40% of the estimated total spend of €243 million by top flight teams to date, with ten sides having spent less than €3 million on new players, and Numancia, Osasuna, Racing, Sporting and Valladolid yet to pay out anything.

Madrid are expected to increase that figure if they sign Rafael Van der Vaart next week, and if they do get Cristian Ronaldo then that could set off a chain reaction. Right now though it appears that most people are battening down the hatches, and the situation is even worse in the second division, with no less than six clubs filing for protection from creditors under the Spanish "ley concursal", and many other struggling to meet the 31 July deadline to be up to date with payments to players in order to avoid automatic relegation. Only Zaragoza, Murcia and Hércules have any cash to spend, and around three quarters of the sides have yet to pay out anything for their new players. Levante are worse off than anyone though, and they agreed terms to rescind the contracts of no less than twenty members of their squad this summer. (04.08.08)