Salva Sevilla, Sanchez and Abdon Prats celebrate a goal. | MIQUEL A. BORRAS


After a week when the founder of Dulux Paints was found with hypothermia on a mountain top in Canada – a police spokesperson said “He could have done with another coat !” – Real Mallorca on match day 27 headed last night for the heart of the Rioja wine-producing area Logroñes where they’ll play the 16th placed club at their Las Gaunas stadium.

The game will be shown LIVE on Spanish free-to-air channel GOL. Logroñes have over the past few years had some major money woes and this season, after a good start, are dropping faster than a fat kid on a see-saw ! Their last ten games have seen them win 1, draw 4 and lose 5. In the corresponding fixture in Palma back on November 29, we gubbed them 4-0 with 16-year-old Luka Romero scoring his first ever goal for the “Big” team.

After our brilliant win over fellow La Liga SmartBank automatic promotion hopefuls Almeria last weekend (2-0) the next two fixtures come as a respite to the Palma side. We’re facing two teams fighting to escape the clutches of relegation to Segunda B (Logroñes today and, next Sunday, Cartagena in the Son Moix at 18:15).

The latter are stuck in the relegation bottom four. Both these games should be “gimmes” for Real Mallorca and another six points would really put the pressure on the chasing pack of Espanyol, Almeria, Leganes, and Sporting Gijon who we play in Asturias in two weeks’ time.

It’s been a week of players’ contracts renewals taking centre stage for Real Mallorca. Martin Valjent extended his contract until 2025 and the announcement came as a huge billboard advert featuring him tied up in chains and drinking Laccao (a locally made chocolate milk drink) was revealed outside the Son Moix on the Cami del Reis.

Slovenia international Valjent is one of the players most loved by the Mallorca fans and he joined the team on loan from Italian side Chevio Verona in the 2018-19 season. After our promotion to La Liga, Mallorca executed a purchase option of 1.5 million euros and since then he’s been almost ever-present and one of the first names on the team sheet. His centre back partnership with Antonio Raillo is one of the main reasons we’re top of the table and the fact we’ve only conceded 13 goals all season is down to their indomitable camaraderie.

Another vital player for Mallorca, who is expected to pen to paper soon, is the one and only Salva Sevilla who’ll stay for at least one more season. Over the three years he’s been here, I’ve run out of superlatives in describing how important he is in the scheme of things at the Son Moix. Salva at 37 is a special player, a dressing room leader and a true genius as his brilliant goal against Almeria last game proved.

He’s capable of illuminating a game just by touching the ball and is an indispensable pillar in the plans of coach Luis Garcia Plaza. Many local pundits commented on his arrival in 2017 that he was coming here to retire. Three and a half seasons later with two promotions and one relegation he’s shown how, if they look after themselves, footballers mature with age.

Over the 30 odd years I’ve watched Real Mallorca, there’s been nobody who can take and score free kicks like him and the one he buried in the play-off a year past June against Deportivo La Coruña was the turning point in the game. I’ve always said if Salva Sevilla plays well, so do Real Mallorca.

Another player who’s expected to sign a new contract is Abdon Prats. It’s reported that he (or his agent) turned down the club’s opening offer but I’m sure he’ll sign in a few weeks as he’s having his best ever season. Being a local boy from Arta, Abdon is another player loved by the Son Moix faithful and his seven goals make him joint top scorer at Real Mallorca with Amath.

There’s still a doubt about 16-year-old Luka Romero signing a proper professional contract as he and his parents are conscious of the fact that the bigger clubs in Spain are very keen to get his signature and could offer a lot more money. The only problem there, is if Luka went to one of the big two in Spain, his chances of playing regular first team football would be minimal. He hasn’t played any part in the games since December 7.

Late news from the squad selection for tonight’s game sees Iñigo Ruiz de Galarreta missing in midfield. He picked up a thigh muscle injury last week and will be out for a month. Ghanaian international Baba deputises.

Left back Brian Olivan limped off after the Almeria win and will be out for a couple of weeks. The newly-married Braian Cufre is more than a capable replacement in a game I’m expecting Mallorca to win to remain at the top.

AND FINALLY, a wife and her husband in Italy were hosting an important dinner party for some local dignitaries. At the very last minute the wife realised she didn’t have any snails and the local mayor had particularly asked for them. She told her husband to go into the surrounding countryside and collect some, handing him a bucket. As he gathered the snails he came across a young lady who had fallen off her bike and needed assistance.

She stayed locally so he helped her to get home, then stayed with her to make sure she was all right. They eventually started messing around and as the night was hot and muggy he fell asleep, exhausted ! At seven in the morning, he woke up saying “Oh no, my wife’s dinner party !” He gathered all his clothes, put them on quickly, grabbed his bucket of snails and ran out of the door.

Reaching his house, he dashed up the steps and in his haste dropped the bucket full of snails. They were everywhere. The front door opened and there stood his very angry wife, wondering where he’s been all this time. He looked at the snails now crawling all over the steps, looked at his wife then back at the snails and yelled “Come on guys, get a wiggle on, we’re almost there !!”