Baba, undertaking medical tests.

21-07-2019Real Mallorca

Real Mallorca’s opening La Liga game in the Son Moix against Eibar, which had been scheduled for Monday, August 19, now looks to be coming forward to Saturday the 17th, kick off at 8pm.

I wrote last week that there may be trouble ahead between the RFEF (Spanish FA) and La Liga with regard to playing games on Mondays and Fridays. A judge has amended the kick-off days and times for the first three weekend matches in La Liga Santander 2019/20. The ruling states that those games scheduled for Friday and Monday, August 16 and 19, will now be played during that weekend on Saturday and Sunday. The schedules to adjust to this ruling have already been changed. The measure means that there won’t be any games on Fridays or Mondays for the first three rounds of fixtures. Visiting teams have to organise accommodation and travelling arrangements, but the repercussions of the changes for TV coverage all over the globe mean compensation will have to be paid at a very high cost. The two views of the RFEF and La Liga will be put to a higher judge at an independent hearing in the first week of August to try and resolve this problem once and for all, but even then one or other party could go to the even higher sports council. La Liga have accused RFEF of illegal conduct and creating confusion saying “that’s all they’re good for”. All should become clearer after August 7, although it seems as if the first three weekends will see games played on Saturday and Sunday.

Real Mallorca play their last pre-season game on the island against Poblense (Sa Pobla) this Sunday at 8 pm in Son Bibiloni. Tomorrow the players and staff leave for a mini training camp in Marbella where they’ll play friendlies against Malaga, Valladolid and Getafe. Pre-season for the fans is always a fascinating time of speculation, excitement and questions, as fans have a chance to see new signings, etc. Most of these signings have been completed but we have big problems on the left side of defence.

General manager Maheta Molango was in Milan on Friday looking for new players. Our director of football Javi Recio’s phone is red hot at the moment as he is in overdrive trying to bring in replacements. Two left backs moved on at the end of last season. Salva Ruiz returned to his parent club Valencia, where he’s played in a couple of games this summer.

The other player who left was a strange one for me. Ecuadorian Pervis Estupiñan came here a year ago on loan from Watford. After Christmas he broke into the first team (when Ruiz was injured) and never looked back. His strong running and pinpoint crossing was a feature of his game, as was his powerful left foot shooting ability, scoring three goals. He looked more than settled here, becoming a new dad in February. Things looked nailed on for him to stay for a further campaign, with Watford’s permission. Then, even before Mallorca made the play-offs, news leaked that he was going to sign for La Segunda champions Osasuna. Why? All I can think of was that he or his agent jumped the gun, thinking Mallorca weren’t good enough to get out of La Segunda and he saw his chance of playing La Liga football. Then of course there is the old chestnut – money !

A week ago local hero, 22-year-old Joan Sastre, was holding out for a new deal after being at Real Mallorca since he was 12 years old. It looked very likely that the Porreres-born right back’s days at Son Moix were numbered. So much so that he was forced to train on the fringe of the Mallorca squad. Then suddenly on Monday night, news came out that a deal had been brokered, increasing his contract to 2023 and with a substantial increase in salary. The player was over the moon when he returned to train with his mates on Tuesday morning.

The other re-signing was Iddrisu Baba who has signed two renewals in less than 20 days. The young 22-year-old Ghanaian midfielder nicknamed “El pulpo ghanés” (the Ghanaian octopus) because of his long legs, burst on the scene last season after being on loan to Segunda B side Barakaldo. On July 3 he initially signed a new deal keeping him at the Son Moix until 2022 but with a five million euro buyout clause. With many sides interested in poaching him on the cheap, Mallorca upped the ante. Wary of having their fingers severely burnt again as they were a few years ago, when they allowed Marco Asensio to leave for Real Madrid for just four million euros, they gave Baba another deal. This one is until 2024 and the buyout clause is 45 million euros.