New goalkeeper Sergio Rico | R.D.

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Real Mallorca have drawn Rayo Vallecano in the quarter finals of the Copa del Rey with ties set to be played on February 1/2/3. That means that many North and South American players will be absent from those games given the CONMEBOL and CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, that have been added to the calendar due to earlier Covid related delays.

The bad news for Mallorca is that we lost to them 3-1 in the league a few weeks ago and Rayo are undefeated at home all season. But it’s the cup and anything can happen.

Mallorca play away tomorrow at Villareal, kick off 4:15, and it’s hoped the Palma side can produce the kind of form that saw them beat Espanyol 2-1 last Saturday to reach the Copa del Rey quarter finals. Villareal lie in 8th position, and surprisingly lost 1-0 at Elche last weekend.

Because of Spanish Supercup and the Copa del Rey, Mallorca have fallen a game behind the rest of the bottom half of La Liga. That means we’ve slipped down the table to 17th place on 20 points, just three points above third bottom Alaves. Our La Liga game against Real Sociedad, due to be played on Thursday, was postponed and will be scheduled at a later date. With the fixture list bursting at the seams, the date of February 16 was suggested.

However, Sociedad are involved in the Europa league and that date is set aside for European competitions. The plot thickens !

One of the positive aspects for RCD Mallorca of late has been the excellent form of Japanese star Take Kubo scoring two vital goals against At. Madrid and Espanyol. He’ll play today against a team he joined on loan for three months last season. Our left back Jaume Costa played for Villareal for nine years, so today’s a bit of deja vu for them.

Another vital player for Mallorca is Antonio Raillo who’s on his way back to full fitness after missing all but one game this season. The central defender suffered a partial rupture of the internal ligament in his left ankle in a pre-season friendly and on October 26 he went under the knife in Barcelona. Raillo is vital to our defensive course and he’s expected to be ready for action next month.

A player missing tomorrow is Iddrisu Baba. He’s returned injured playing for Ghana (who surprisingly finished last in their group) in the African Cup of Nations. It’s not exactly known what his injury is, only that it’s the muscular type which could mean nothing, or being out for several weeks.

MALLORCA SIGN TOP GOALKEEPER : With the transfer window closing on the 31st, Mallorca have signed a quality goalkeeper on (for us) a massive salary, until June. Sevillian Sergio Rico has arrived from PSG until the end of the season and in principle there’s no purchase option. The transfer has not been easy because the player’s wages reach two hundred thousand euros a month and the Parisian club wanted Mallorca to pay all of it. However, it appears an agreement has been reached and we’ll pay around half of that amount.

28-year-old, 6ft 4in. Rico is a Spanish international and came through Sevilla’s academy. He stayed there until 2018 winning two Europa League titles and playing 170 games. He has a contract until 2024 with PSG and was third choice ’keeper behind Navas and Donnarumma.

Rico’s arrival will leave the rest of the first team goalkeepers in limbo and raise numerous questions. What will happen to Manolo Reina and will youngster Leo Roman find himself back in the local third division ? Our other goalkeeper, the invisible Dominik Greif, who’s hardly played this season and who we signed for 3 million euros, now looks to be surplus to requirements and has spent more time on the treatment table than on the pitch.

Reina’s about to turn 37 and his contract, which won’t be renewed, expires in June. There’s no doubt Manolo’s been a great servant to the club. Accustomed to playing every weekend, a new life begins for Reina at Real Mallorca.

The other great signing objective is that of a proven striker. With the form of young Fer Niño declining over the months, director of football Pablo Ortells may play it safe and bring in a footballer who’ll make all the difference in the penalty area. Two players already allegedly on the list are Oviedo (and ex Swansea) striker Borja Baston and the 30-year-old Italian Simone Zaza who played 11 games for West Ham in 2016 without scoring a goal. He then moved to Valencia where he scored 20 goals in two campaigns.

One other name being mentioned is the Chelsea reject from Brazil, 25-year-old Kenedy. However, the player most wanted is the accredited Spanish international striker 28-year-old Paco Alcacer, now at Villareal. He’s scored a shedful of goals in a career that’s seen him play for Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona. The trouble as usual is his high wages and the fact he’s been out injured for a while.

AND FINALLY, David Bennett, the guy who had a pig’s heart fitted, should be out of hospital in about a weeeeeeeek !