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La Liga: The Big Three are on Manoeuvres

With just eight games of the 2023–24 La Liga campaign to play, thoughts are turning to the summer transfer window and next season, particularly for the money men at the top-flight clubs.

The big three—Real, Atletico Madrid, and Barcelona—are grabbing the La Liga 2024 news headlines again this week with moves to strengthen their teams, while Atleti in particular have work to do to finish the campaign strongly. 

Carlos Ancelotti’s Blancos faced Athletic Bilbao at the weekend, and Brazilian striker Rodrygo scored twice in a 2-0 win. Meanwhile, Barca kept the La Liga title race just about alive with a 1-0 win over Las Palmas, as Brazilian winger Raphinha scored the only goal of the game.

But the La Liga 2024 betting odds are increasingly confident of the title heading back to the Santiago Bernabeu in May as Real maintain their eight-point lead at the top.

And Los Blancos have been heavily linked with a move for marquee reinforcement in defence, with Chelsea’s Reece James and FC Bayern’s Alphonso Davies both on the radar. The main focus in Madrid is to ensure the smooth move from PSG of Kylian Mbappe to the club, so it may mean players will have to leave to balance the books if Ancelotti is to bring a star wingback in.

Reece James is rumoured to join La Liga club Real Madrid
Reece James playing for Chelsea

They are big admirers of England right-back James, but, as with their pursuit of Mbappe, Real Madrid may have to be patient. James is seen as a long-term replacement for Dani Carvajal, but the 24-year-old is contracted at Stamford Bridge until 2028, so he would not come cheaply.

On the left flank, there is more encouragement as Bayern’s Canadian fullback, Alphonso Davies, is in the final 18 months of his contract in Munich.

The Bundesliga giants are hoping to extend his stay in Bavaria, but Davies has yet to commit and has been set an April deadline. That news has alerted the Real Madrid board, who believe they might be able to complete this deal relatively smoothly if nothing happens over the next few weeks, and Davies agent has become frustrated by Bayern’s ultimatum. 

FC Bayern are currently second in the Bundesliga table with Bayer Leverkusen 13 points ahead, and with seven games to play, it’s the Werkself who will be celebrating very soon, so it could all change in Munich.


City switch for Ceballos?

Atletico Madrid are in fifth place in the La Liga table, but they have a date on Monday in one of SBOTOP’s featured matches, away to Villarreal. Off the pitch, Los Rojiblancos are preparing a move for Real Madrid’s midfielder Dan Ceballos, who hasn’t had a lot of game time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The 27-year-old has struggled to get consistent run since his switch from Real Betis in 2017, yet to make 100 appearances for Los Blancos and spent time out on loan at Premier League club Arsenal.

With the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos at the club, it’s been difficult for Ceballos to muscle his way in, and this season he has made 14 appearances in total, providing one assist.

 Atleti think they can get their man for under 20 million euros, and he could make the short trip across the capital city this summer. 


Barcelona in for the new Messi

The imminent departure of manager Xavi is occupying the minds of fans and the board of Barcelona, but the club has work to do to develop its playing staff if it is to win back the La Liga title next season. And there is some excitement surrounding rumours that the Catalans are set to hijack Chelsea’s move for Palmeiros’ exciting prospect, Estevao Willian.

The 16-year-old has only made six senior appearances, though he has impressed for club and country at youth level, and he has already been likened to a young Messi, with his incredible ball skills and speed of thought.

Already valued at over 50 million euros, Willian could be the next Barca teenager to take La Liga by storm, following in the footsteps of Gavi, Pedri, and Lamine Yamal. Barca are stepping up their interest in the Brazilian, and fans are already hoping to see ‘Messinho’ at Camp Nou next season. 

Back to the manager’s position, news has emerged in the Spanish press that the Catalans’ move to bring Luis Enrique to the club is not yet done and dusted.

 President Joan Laporta is still hoping to persuade Xavi to extend his stay but has yet to receive any encouragement. The 53-year-old Enrique won the treble as manager of Barcelona in 2015, and the current PSG head coach would be a fan’s favourite should Xavi’s departure be 100 per cent confirmed. 


 

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