Mallorca beat Pontevedra 0-2. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter

After a week when I saw this headline in The Times – So, Cristiano Ronaldo, what first attracted you to the £170 million quid a year job in Saudi Arabia? – Real Mallorca welcome 2023 with a tricky game in the Son Moix tomorrow night (Saturday 7th) at 18:30 against 15th placed Valladolid.

They came mighty close to holding Real Madrid to a draw last Saturday night, before going down 0-2 with late goals from “Los Blancos” talisman Karim Benezema. Nicknamed “El Pucela” because they play in violet and white, the club is owned by the great Ronaldo Nazario.

The 46-year-old Brazilian was one of the best and most decorated strikers in his playing days and he purchased a 51% stake in the team in 2018. A two-time World Cup winner, Ronaldo played six seasons in La Liga, one for Barcelona in 1996-97 and five at Real Madrid beginning in 2002-03.

As for RCD Mallorca, they need to turn the page after their worst performance since August, going down 2-0 at Getafe without having a single shot on target. The Palma side controlled a pretty awful first half then fell to pieces in the second, gifting (with Christmas wrapping paper on!) the home side their easiest home win of the season.

In the post match press conference Mallorca coach Javier Aguirre confessed to being “bewildered” as to how awful we were in the second half! Despite last week’s set-back, 2022 was a good year not only from a playing level but from a structural one as well.

The remodelling of the Son Moix with the removal of the horrible running track is well under way, as is the North end of the ground. Other good news was the approval by our directors of a capital increase of 15 million euros that will be allocated to both improvements in Son Moix and the training complex Son Bibiloni.

The team closed the year 7 points from relegation on 19, three more than this time last term. That 19 points leaves our goal of reaching 40 points (to stay up) almost 50% achieved with four games to go before we reach half way.

Since Tuesday the transfer window officially started in Spain’s La Liga and several of our players have now got a free hand to decide their future. Lago Junior, Angel Rodriguez, Jaume Costa, Ruiza de Galarreta and Nastasic end their contractual agreement with the club on June 30 and can now resolve their future.

Lago Junior looks likely to be the first out of the “Salida” door. He’s been a terrific servant for the club and has been here six years. He’s only played 48 minutes spread over five games so far this season and may go to struggling Malaga in La Segunda. For me, he will always be remembered for the brilliant goal he scored three years ago in Palma when his seventh minute “curler” saw us beat Real Madrid 1-0.

The other big name, who I certainly don’t want to leave, is Galarreta. Our director of football, Pablo Ortells, has been in talks with the players’ representatives for many weeks but with interested Basque clubs, At. Madrid and Osasuna keen to give him a three-year deal, Galarreta, who’ll be 30 in August, would like to see out his career back home. Negotiations are expected to continue to try and keep him here but at the time of writing there doesn’t seem to be too much optimism coming out of the Son Moix.

Players like Costa and Angel I’ll expect to be here until June and Frenchman Clement Grenier could also be on his way as he’s not happy being a “bench” player. Offers for Muriqi are expected to flood in, with every team under the sun needing a quality striker. I’ve been told our American owners have said to Ortells that under NO circumstances will negotiations open for Muriqi below the asking price which I believe to be 20 million euros.

MURIQI/ABDON SEE MALLORCA INTO CUP LAST 16

Real Mallorca are through to the last 16 of this season’s Copa del Rey with a traumatic 0-2 win after extra time in Galicia against Pontevedra on Wednesday night. They’ll find out who their next opponents are around 12 noon today (Fri) with ties being played on January 17, 18 and 19.

Mallorca coach Javier Aguirre picked an initial starting XI with nine bench warmers and Copete and Galarreta were the only regular starters.

Pontevedra fighting relegation from the Third Division played the game of their lives on a pitch that had more divots than Son Vida golf course. Indeed, I got a text in the second half from “Mackem John” who reckoned if this had been a cricket match, the heavy roller would have been requested!

Mallorca had a good first half and a disastrous second one. Pontevedra for their part forgot about playing sexy football and played the long ball, avoiding the centre of the pitch. Our back-up goalkeeper, Dominik Greif, played a blinder, keeping us in the tie with a string of great saves.

The introduction of Prats and Muriqi near the end changed everything. Just before they came on, the ball hit the outstretched hand of a home defender in the penalty area but the referee ignored it. Since there’s no VAR in the Cup, there was no second opinion. With Pontevedra tiring, Abdon and Muriqi took over. The former finished off a cross from Muriqi in the 96th minute then the roles were reversed, Abdon passed to Muriqi and the big Kosovan made no mistake.