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Showing posts from January, 2018

The Saudi takeover of Spanish football (23rd January, 2018)

This blog is called the Pride of Vallekas. Well, I'm not proud. I've always been excited about writing, but never before have I had to delay a piece just so I could rewrite it after cooling down.

If you read yesterday's piece about the Chinese take-over of Spanish football, you'll be happy to know that this is a more recent phenomenon. But given the tentacles of Chinese influence, I would not be surprised if more is announced in the pipeline.

On the 21st of January, 2018, Saudi Arabia's federation and La Liga - yes, the league - agreed an operation that simply defies all bounds of thinking. Nine players were transferred from Saudi Arabian clubs to first and second division clubs and their B teams.

If you're stuggling with the scale of this, here are the players: In the first tier, Yahia Al-Shehri signed for Leganés and Marwan Othmnan for the B team, Fahad Al-Muwallad signed for Levante, Salem Al Dawsari for Villarreal and Jaber Issa signed for the B team. In th…

The Chinese takeover of Spanish football (22nd January, 2018)

Given the recent signing of Abdulmajeed Al Sulayhim, I thought I'd write about the transfer. However, that comes tomorrow, entitled the Saudi takeover of Spanish football.

But there's one takeover that's already happening, and it's the Chinese one...

China already have their hands in Spanish football. They already own satellite clubs in Valencia such as CF Cracks and Atlético Museros and have already loaned out over 25 Chinese players to the former. Communication problems have plagued the club, which requires a translator to be present at all times, not to mention the players struggling with the Spanish football style.

In July 2016, La Hoya Lorca Club de Fútbol changed its name to Lorca Fútbol Club when it was bought by former Chinese international player and manager Xu Genbao. And just one month earlier, FC Jumilla was taken over by Chinese famous football commentators Li Xiang and Tang Hui together with Argentinian partner Rubén Iglesias. In fact, because Li, Tang and…

More Rayo Vallecano news. And a loan report. (21st January, 2018)

Given that I said I would cover more Rayo news on this blog...

Click here for transfer news as of 13th January, involving ex-Rayo player Armenteros, Mehdi Lacen, Youssef En-Nesyri, and more.

But wait - there is more!
Gorka Elustondo has signed for the club. A piece on him is already up.
Edit: Abdulmajeed Al Sulayhim has also signed - a piece on the deal will also be up in the coming days.
24-year-old Bruno Pittón, of Unión Santa Fe, is an Argentine left-back who has recently been linked to Rayo by the Argentine media. Seems unlikely, given that Raț is still in limbo at the club. Not to mention that Sergio Akieme hasn't got a look-in due to Álex Moreno. And don't forget that Javi Noblejas is out on loan at Córdoba.
Joni Montiel's playing time has been limited, and is looking for a way out. Loan deals involving Segunda B clubs are rumored, with Fuenlabrada and Ponferradina reportedly interested.

Rayo loan report

If Sergio Akieme can't get a look-in at Rayo, Javi Noblejas can&#…

New signing! Gorka Elustondo - the Swiss army knife (20th January, 2018)

Ugh. The "Swiss army knife" is quite a boring metaphor. Not because of the name but the reference.

Usefulness and adaptability are never inspiring, but they are necessary. When they're there it's calm. When they're not it's dire.

And that could not be truer in the case of Gorka Elustondo. A midfielder by trade, his natural position is protecting the defense with surprising physique and passing range. The Gipuzkoa native rose through the ranks of Real Sociedad's, and made his B-team, and Segunda B, debut at the age of 18 during the 2005-06 season. He immediately became an undisputed starter, and within a season was knocking on the doors of the first team. He would make his La Liga debut in December 2006 in a goalless away draw against Celta de Vigo. A further five appearances in his first professional season would follow, but nevertheless the Basque club met top division relegation for the first time in 40 years.

But sporting disappointment isn't the o…

Abel Gómez Moreno - the unforgettable face of forgettable clubs (19th January, 2018)

Yo-yo clubs are defined by their uncertainty. They go up and they go down. They remain relevant one season and are just as quick deemed irrelevant in the next.

In other words, yo-yo clubs are easily forgettable.


His face conveys the stern gaze of a man who had seen a lot - maybe too much. White streaks in his hair and his grey beard make the 35 year old look 53.


But his role as a footballer demands him to draw on every experience. Creaking legs are shielded from scrutiny once the ball lands on his feet. Always looking to control, pass, create. Always looking to win the ball intelligently. Always looking to score from dead ball situations.


He is Abel Gómez. And this is his story.


There is more to Andalusia than Seville. Abel was born in Seville but spent most of his life in Granada. As a child he started playing at Atlético Monachil, located in Monachil, Granada, and later at Granada 74. Seville's Sevilla did spot him, and he graduated from their academy, playing for their B team…

Jaime Mata - the one that got away (18th January, 2018)

A few months ago, Rayo fans woke up to this:
CONVOCATORIA| 📋 Lista de 1️⃣9️⃣ jugadores para el debut mañana en la #CopaDelRey🏆 #NumanciaMálaga⚽️ #VamosMálaga💙 👉 https://t.co/hlScwtJkhYpic.twitter.com/qFGrdvOnrQ — Málaga CF (@MalagaCF) October 23, 2017
That was a bittersweet moment - pride for a Rayista who was going to succeed at Málaga, but bitterness at the club for letting him go for free and not tying him down early enough.

Midfielder Pablo Clavería slipped through the cracks. He wasn't renewed, and got tired of waiting - a depressingly normal situation for a smaller, cash-strapped club.

This is the story of another player who slipped through.

Like Pablo, he has a powerful shot on him. Unlike Pablo, it's key to his job. The striker made his name in his hometown of Madrid in the Tercera, after rising through the ranks of Galáctico Pegaso. He would play for the reserves in 2007, before playing for the senior team during the 2008-09 campaign.

During the 2009-10 campaign, ec…

From Rayo to Rayo - Alejandro Arribas (17th January, 2017)

Exactly a week ago, the post for the day was "From Rayo to Rayo - the story of Alberto García". It was the story of a goalkeeper who started at Rayo (Rayo Majadahonda) and is now at Rayo (Rayo Vallecano). It was the story of two Madrid-based clubs named Rayo, who gave him a clear shot and helped him advance his career.

But this is a story of someone literally going from Rayo to Rayo. And, at the age of just 28, his story is only just being written.

Arribas' story is a mixture of opportunity and luck, achievement at an early age partly due to hard work and partly due to circumstance. It started in his hometown of Madrid, where he rose the ranks of Rayo Majadahonda, and where he made his Tercera debut during the 2007-08 campaign.

What followed was a rapid rise into professional football. In 2008, he was signed by Rayo's reserves, also in the Tercera. However, his talent earned him a loan move to Segunda B side Navalcarnero in the second half of the 2008-09 season and go…

Tariq Spezie - a unique story, a Spanish dream (16th January, 2017)

His story is not unique. It is a story of a family fleeing violence, settling in a foreign land and making a name for themselves through hard work.

It's the story of a striker named Tariq Spezie. It's a story that interested me because his brothers (Omar and Nura) were born in Dubai, a city I've lived in. And he was born in Sharjah, merely an hour away from Dubai.

His Italian father from Verona (who worked in a tire company) and Spanish mother from La Mancha - which explains his last name Sevilla - saw the political situation in the region worsen. It eventually led to the Iran-Iraq War, and the family relocated to Italy with their one-year infant, and later to Spain.

Tariq played youth football in modest clubs in Catalonia, such as Racing Blanenc and Vilobí, and supplemented his fluent Italian with Castilian and Catalan. However, he moved to Valladolid due to a family relocation, and made his senior debut with Real Valladolid B at the age of 19. He would compete the 1999-0…

Silly Season is back! (13th January, 2018)

I remember doing a Silly Season accumulator series on this blog and it ended up being a long, long list of rumors that made no sense when put together.

So, instead, given that I promised more Rayo coverage on this blog, here is the latest news:

According to multiple sources Rayo's priorities are a deep-lying midfielder (pivote) and a winger.
Rayo have been repeatedly linked with Getafe's out-of-favor midfielder Mehdi Lacen. However, Markel Bergara's injury has given Mehdi game time, so the operation may be difficult.
Francisco Cerro was signed this summer, but has since reportedly declined an offer from Lorca. Cerro would prefer to try to continue fighting for minutes in the Rayo.
Coke Andújar, former Rayo youth product, was linked with Rayo, but has instead joined Levante in La Liga.
San Fernando's 20-year-old striker Chris Ramos was linked with Rayo, but has joined Real Valladolid instead.
Former Rayo player Emiliano Armenteros is out-of-favor at Santos Laguna, and has bee…

Recruiting former recruits - the 2011-12 Las Palmas season: Momo, the creative winger (12th January, 2018)

On the 12th of April, 2010, following Sergije Krešić's dismissal, with the club languishing in 17th, Las Palmas turned to a former Las Palmas native to rescue them from relegation to the Segunda B.

In the 32 games prior to Sergije being sacked, Las Palmas had won just eight times and picked up 37 points. Under Paco Jémez, in 10 games, they won four times, and picked up 14 points, to finish in 17th - narrowly outside the relegation zone.

And while he was dismissed in February 2011, Las Palmas saw the need to sign the players that actually breathed the values of the club. And so they did.

Jerónimo Figueroa, aka Momo, belonged to Las Palmas. He grew up at the club, and broke out during the 2003-04 season at the age of just 21. Despite Las Palmas' relegation, Momo desired to stay - but in 2004 Deportivo signed the player due to an existing agreement between both clubs to settle the debt of the 2000 signing of Argentine center-back Gabriel Schürrer.

However, Momo rarely played for th…

Are you eligible to become an Athletic Club player? A historical guide (11th January, 2018)

How do you qualify to play at Athletic?

Cristian Ganea, a Romanian left-back who was born in Romania to Romanian parents, was recently being scouted by Athletic Club. How could they possible justify his signing? Well, at the age of 11, he was brought by his parents to the Basque Country and played for Basconia and Indartsu in his youth.

The truth is, however, that Athletic Club's definition of who qualifies has always been open to interpretation, with presidents relaxing and tightening the rules as they saw fit.

The definition, Basque players or players who trained in teams from Euskadi and Navarra, is not just vague by its definition of which players who have trained in teams from Euskadi and Navarra, but also has to do with the vagueness of the territorial limits of Euskadi and Navarra itself. And also to do with the fact that in the past Athletic Club were only recruiting players from the Biscay province surrounding Bilbao while the other leading clubs Real Sociedad and Osasuna f…

From Rayo to Rayo - the story of Alberto García (10th January, 2018)

I always look to write about the players we have now - and yet I find it interesting that I've never dedicated a piece to our number one goalkeeper this season.

Here it is...

He's our goalkeeper. He looks stocky but possess great reflexes, and is quick across the ground. He looks short but is able to dominate in aerial battles.

But he hasn't always got the opportunities to shine. Born in Barcelona, Catalonia, he bounced around in Catalonia during his youth, appearing for Barcelona, Europa and Cornellà. He would then move to Madrid in 2004, making his senior debut with Rayo Majadahonda in the Tercera. However, in early 2005, he moved back to Catalonia, playing for Sant Andreu in the same division.

His shot in the Segunda B came exactly a year later - he would sign for Villarreal's B team in the Tercera in the summer of 2005, but was loaned out to Águilas for the latter half of the 2005-06 season. In the Segunda B, he played nine league games, as well as both legs of the …

Strong, stable, solid, secure - Miguel Torres, the La Liga regular with waning recognition (9th January, 2018)

He is a fullback. Not quick, but hardworking. Not tall, but high in stature. Not relaxed, but composed. Not spectacular, but reliable.

His 32nd birthday is coming up this month, and he has already spent 11 seasons in La Liga. But this season, the seasoned veteran has been relegated to the reserves. His top-flight career is waning.

And so his story must be told.

Born in Madrid, Torres joined Real Madrid's junior teams at the age of 12. He made his first-team debut against Écija Balompié as a starter, in a Copa del Rey game in October 2006, because of injuries to defenders Fabio Cannavaro, Cicinho and Míchel Salgado. He also played in the return leg as a substitute, replacing Sergio Ramos in the 80th minute, and also started in both cup matches against Real Betis, sporting jersey No. 38 in these games and throughout the season.

His rise in standing at the club was quick from there - Torres made his La Liga debut in his fourth consecutive appearance for Real Madrid, playing the whole 9…

David Rocha - a tireless career, and the tireless midfielder behind it (8th January, 2018)

These examples are countless. These examples of perseverance and dedication are inspiring.

This is the story of a player who made his professional debut at the age of 30 - and yet, on the way, dropped a division to help his local club to promotion. And he's still going strong - and is about to turn 33.

This is the story of a tireless career, and the tireless midfielder behind it.



Cáceres, in Extremadura, is no ordinary town. This town was the birthplace of Spain's tourism industry - in 1846 the bullring of Cáceres (Plaza de Toros de Cáceres) was inaugurated and brought in tourists from near and far. Franco established his headquarters here in August 1936, before starting his advance to Madrid. In July 1937, Republican forces bombed this town.

Caught up in the Civil War, a town that became the symbol of a local, self-sufficient service sector and tourism economy also became the town symbolized with the construction industry.

With hard work.

He is cacereño through and through - bo…

Statistics: La Liga tables - houses outside a stadium vs football inside a stadium (7th January, 2018)

In another episode of "Statistics", the third one since March 2017, here I rank every team based on their league position as well as the average property prices outside their stadiums.

Note that high property prices don't indicate the prosperity of a club, just the location - even if the winner of the housing league was also the winner of La Liga. For example, Eibar is one of the poorest clubs in the division but house prices are not cheap.

Rayo Vallecano was poor and housing prices were low and their sporting performance reflected that but that doesn't indicate any trend.

If you're a modest club, financially sound, and not in the capital of your autonomous community (housing prices are low) then you might just punch above your weight - Málaga, Celta Vigo and Villarreal are examples, but counter examples include Granada - so even that trend is hard to justify.

In other words, this is not scientific - just a bit of fun.

*price in euros per square meter of the house…