Mallorca have fifth best defence in La Liga. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter


After a week when Sir Michael Caine agreed to do one last movie before he retires at the age of 89 – the film is, as yet, untitled although some suggestions have been “Excess Wind in the Willows,” “It’s a Wonderful Life Assurance Policy,” “Sleeping With the Enema,” “Shakes on a Plane,” and “Gout of Africa”! – Real Mallorca from tomorrow (Saturday 14th) face a demanding stretch in the La Liga fixture list with no less than three games in six days against clubs from the north of the Iberian peninsula. This situation means coach Javier Aguirre will be forced to make wholesale changes, especially next Tuesday (17th) when we have an almost “mission impossible” trip to San Sebastian to play third top side Real Sociedad in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey.

Tomorrow’s opponents are Osasuna in El Sadar. The side from Pamplona have had a great start to the season and currently lie one point ahead of us on 23. The Navarrese club are fighting for a European place and will be out for revenge after we beat them in the final game of last season 0-2. Kick off tomorrow is 18:30 and it will be the first time our ex striker Ante Budimir will be playing against us.

Three days later we play at the Reale Seguros (ex Anoeta) stadium against a Real Sociedad outfit that now contains our ex Japanese star Take Kubo. Less known players will have an opportunity to impress Aguirre and let him know they deserve more game time. One player who’ll make a reappearance is expected to be Antonio Sanchez who, since his howler against Getafe (when he gifted them a goal) hasn’t played a single minute. Another player expected to get a run out is French midfielder Clement Grenier. The third game is next Friday night at 9pm in Son Moix when we welcome Celta Vigo to Palma.

Javier Aguirre has never cared much about criticism of his team’s performances or his style of coaching. He wants to win and his objective is, as always, to stabilise RCD Mallorca in La Liga. His system is at the moment proving successful. Of the last 10 official matches we’ve played, seven have been victories.

Along the way we’ve taken the scalps of Valencia, Villareal and Atletico Madrid. Aguirre said last week “We’re consolidating and need three or four years in La Liga. Then we will go on to bigger things because there will be more money to buy better players.”

Last week’s exciting (if only in the last 10 minutes!) 1-0 win against Valladolid took the Palma side into 10th position in La Liga with 22 points.

Looking back over the years, after 16 games we’re one of the best teams in our 106 year history. The one just above us in first place is Gregorio Manzano’s squad from the 2009/10 season. In that season we finished fifth and after 16 games had 30 points.

Despite the team’s present good numbers Aguirre errs on the side of caution. “Our job is only half done, we have to keep the momentum going until June.” Last season our defence leaked like a sieve but now with Aguirre at the helm we are the fifth best team in La Liga when it comes to not letting in goals. We’ve conceded just 15, only bettered by Barcelona, Betis, Villareal and Athletic Club Bilbao. However, at the other end we’ve only scored 14 – only Valladolid, Cadiz and Elche have scored less.

With the January transfer window now fully open, Mallorca fans find themselves pondering about what’s going to happen to their star players as we enter another corridor of uncertainty. The economic power of the Premier league has become a serious threat to the vast majority of clubs in Spanish top flight football. In the coming weeks we run the risk of losing one or more of our best players which would turn our season into turmoil.

First up is 21-year-old Kang In Lee who despite having a contract until June 2025 is seriously on Aston Villa’s radar. His buyout clause is allegedly close to 20 million euros which for a Premier league club nowadays is loose change. The South Korean’s value in the transfer market has multiplied since he arrived from Valencia last year and he’s now a major component in the scheme of things at the Son Moix.

In addition, he has emerged as the team’s most valuable player from set-pieces as he demonstrated last Saturday coming off the bench to take the corner, providing Abdon with the winning goal.

Mallorca’s director of football, Pablo Ortells, has been made aware of the English club’s interest and he’ll do his level best to hold on to Kang In Lee at least until the Summer. His departure would not only be bad from a playing aspect but the (loss of) advertising revenue in South Korea from his time at RCD Mallorca would be significant. Dutch club Feyenoord have also expressed an interest in his services but so far no concrete offer has arrived.

Muriqi has been mentioned in despatches as being on West Ham’s radar and the fact is both Kang and Muriqi are a bargain for any powerful club. Both could leave for around 40 million euros, a sum easily within the Premier sides’ budgets and the wages would be a lot more than we can afford.

Basque midfielder Iñigo Ruiz de Galarreta looks to be on his way home to the Basque country when his contract runs out in the Summer. Mallorca offered him a three-year extension with more money but all indications show an offer from At. Bilbao (with even more money) will tempt him back home to see out his career. I for one will be sorry to see “Galaxy” go and the club have already started combing the market for his replacement. One player mentioned is 19-year-old Colombian Daniel Luna who is a regular in his country’s Under 20 set-up.