Real Mallorca start their 2021/22 La Liga campaign today - Are they ready? | MDB files

After a week when in the UK Greggs the Bakers are to start deliveries using drones – experts say the idea will never catch on, “It’s just pie in the sky !” – Real Mallorca start their 2021/22 La Liga campaign with a home game against Real Betis, kick off in Son Moix is 19:30.

The good news for the islanders is that one of the biggest young prospects in world football, 20-year-old Japanese Takefuso Kubo has signed a one-season loan deal from Real Madrid, his parent club, until next June.

As happened when he was here two years ago, Kubo will be the highest paid player in the Real Mallorca squad. We will pay his two million euro wages only, as there was no signing price tag involved, allegedly three million euros. He flew into Palma on Tuesday night deciding to forego a few weeks holiday after he’d helped Japan win a bronze medal in the Olympics, in which he starred for the “Blue Samurai” scoring three goals.

Pushed the boat

Our American owners have pushed the boat out considerably to bring the Japanese star back to these shores. It’s not just his footballing prowess that is behind his return as his marketing value, especially in the Land of the Rising Sun, is immense.

A large part of his two million euro salary will be recovered, thanks to sponsors and advertising actions, and the exposure of Mallorca will jump in one of the most lucrative markets that exist, Japan and the Far East. Also coming in this week was 30-year-old Argentinian midfielder Rodrigo Battaglia, who’s been on loan at Alaves last season from his parent club Sporting Lisbon where he’s had plenty experience playing in European competitions.

It’s unclear if either Battaglia or Kubo will play any part tonight. We’re still in the market for an out-and-out striker with several options on director of football Pablo Ortells’ shopping list. Apart from a No. 9, we have at least two players to cover every position and more importantly all of them, except goalkeeper Dominik Greif, have had loads of La Liga experience, something we didn’t have two years ago. Coach Luis Garcia Plaza has said he’s “contentisimo” with all the new signings.

The start of this campaign sees me being a season ticket holder for 36 years and in that time I’ve missed only two games. Sadly, that’ll become three tonight because of crowd restrictions in the Son Moix. 40% or 8,775 fans are allowed in. They will be season ticket holders with an even number and those with odd numbers (like me !) will have to wait until we play Espanyol on Friday 27th at 8 pm. I’d rather go to the Espanyol game as it’s a “grudge match” for several reasons.

They won La Segunda from us by way of the head-to-head situation and their coach is ex Mallorca boss Vicente Moreno who left here under a cloud. I think it’s a better system of getting in as it removes the tedious work involved in registering for the so-called ticket lottery and biting our nails until we hear the result. The club will send “entradas” directly to fans’ emails, which they must take along with their Covid passport etc.

More good news

More good news this week was that the club have paid off all outstanding debts to Hacienda (the tax office), something that’s been hanging around our necks for over 10 years. The current owners have been waiting to pay the debt off since they took over in January 2016 and have invested around 50 million euros in the club’s coffers, making us one of the best run clubs in the country. In this day and age that’s no mean feat and the owners must be congratulated.

Spanish football has been shaken to its roots by the Barcelona/Messi fiasco. If a superstar like Messi and a team like Barcelona (one that describes itself as more than a club) agree to continue their 21-year-old love affair then in the space of a few hours everything falls apart to the apparent benefit of a club owned by a sovereign state, something is very wrong. Qatar, a tiny autocratic little country with NO football heritage bought next year’s World Cup. Now they are trying (with PSG) to buy the Champions League AND European football.

Hero to zero

Just three years ago La Liga was the undisputed monarch of the European game. It’s returning this weekend in a traumatic Summer (when even clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid are living and dying by free transfers), which has seen it’s crown jewel (Lionel Messi) being taken away.

The days of the big two in Spain ruling the roost hang by a thread. Let’s not forget there are 18 other teams in La Liga; lots of great clubs, cities, players and history. Let’s pay more attention to them and ignore the power-crazy, money-obsessed tantrums of the increasingly ridiculous Big 2. One thing is for sure, though, after a superstar exodus there’s a paucity of big names left in La Liga.

PS After Messi’s sudden departure, Barcelona and especially Nike, have been left with thousands of shirts and merchandising with Messi’s name on them. His name brought in 80% of club shop sales worth 20-30 million euros a year, in shirts alone. Now in the French capital, Paris St Germain’s club shop are selling Messi shirts like hot baguettes at 165 euros a pop, Mon Dieu !

AND FINALLY, it was karaoke night in a village pub and this guy gets up and hogs the microphone for ages. “Pretty Woman” – no problem. “House of the Rising Sun” – no problem. “Delilah” – no problem. A voice pipes up at the back “Sing Farmer Jack, sing Farmer Jack.”

The guy looks puzzled and after a minute says “I don’t know that tune, how does it go ?”