Some fans could return before season ends, says La Liga president Javier Tebas

Some fans could return before season ends, says La Liga president Javier Tebas

La Liga hopes to have some supporters back in stadiums by the end of the season, says president Javier Tebas.

Spain’s top flight resumes on Thursday, having been suspended on 10 March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tebas says talks will take place with the government in two weeks to discuss the possibility of fans returning when it is safe to do so.

“Of course it won’t be the entire stadium and there will be special precautionary measures,” said Tebas.

“If we can have even 10% or 15% by the end of the season, if that happens we will be very happy about that because that’s a sign that we are getting back to some form of normality.

“When we celebrate will be when we actually finish the competitions, both the First Division and the Second Division. This crisis still hasn’t come to an end.”

Tebas also said Neymar’s rumoured return to Barcelona is unlikely to happen because of the financial impact of coronavirus.

The Brazil forward was heavily linked with a switch back to Spain last summer, two years after his world-record £200m move to Paris St-Germain, but the deal never went through.

“There will be a lot less movement than we have seen in other transfer windows,” Tebas added.

“Neymar [going back to Barca] is a big cash deal,” he said. “I don’t think it is going to come off.”

Tebas added that if no fans are allowed in stadiums until the end of the year, he is predicting a contraction in the European summer transfer market from 3bn to 800m euros.

Tebas confirmed talks with governing body Uefa and other major leagues, including the Premier League, were ongoing about when the summer transfer window was likely to close.

The new German season is likely to start before that of the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga, but the situation is not entirely straightforward because of clubs involved in the latter stages of European competition.

However, Tebas is expecting an agreement to be reached for the window to close just before the Champions League group phase starts, which is planned for October.

“It will not be [closing at] the end of July, when the competitions are just finishing. It will be a shorter transfer window than in other years, but we are going to come to a consensus,” he added.

La Liga players back in training, with games to possibly restart on 20 June

La Liga players back in training, with games to possibly restart on 20 June

La Liga first and second division players were allowed to carry out individual work at training grounds from Friday, with La Liga itself hoping to restart again in late June – almost certainly behind closed doors.

La Liga’s training plan is for players to initially carry out individual work before getting together in small groups and then finally taking part in larger team sessions.

Barça players started their first session on Friday, whilst players at Real Madrid will return on Monday.

The plan of a staggered training programme with the purpose of restarting competitive games by late June runs parallel to the Spanish government’s four phase de-escalation plan to return the country to a ‘new normality’ over an 8-week period.

Part of the Spanish football league’s plan requires identifying Coronavirus-infected players through testing – and five players from the top two leagues have already tested positive, La Liga confirmed on Sunday.

The five players have not been officially named. They are now quarantined at home and will be tested again ‘in the next few days’. They will be allowed to rejoin their club’s training after obtaining two consecutive negative test results.

ALSO READ: When can La Liga restart?

La Liga stated that, ‘Among La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank (second division) clubs, five positive cases were detected in players, all of them asymptomatic and in the final phase of the disease.’

‘One of the objectives of these medical tests,’ La Liga’s statement read, ‘according to the La Liga’s protocol for returning to training, according to recommendations of the CSD (Supreme Sports Council) and the Ministry of Health, was precisely to detect the denominated or asymptomatic, that is, those people who are infected and that, without presenting symptoms, they can infect other people. In this way, we guarantee everyone’s safety when returning to work according to the occupational risk regulations.’

Messi training
Messi back in training at FC Barcelona on 9 May 2020. (Miguel Ruiz – FC Barcelona)

The health protocol for the players returning to training is strict and includes them arriving already changed and at specific times to avoid contact with others. They have their temperatures taken before entering the premises and at the end of training, they take away a bag of fresh kit for the next day and shower at home.

If La Liga kicks off again on Saturday 20 June, which has been touted as the possible date, it could be expected to finish on Sunday 26 July. It is almost certain that all games will be played in front of empty stands.

La Liga president Javier Tebas is keen to get football up and running again, but has insisted that ‘people’s health is paramount’.

As La Liga currently stands, Real Madrid are in second place behind Barça, with 11 rounds of games remaining. With Real Madrid planning to restart individual training on Monday, captain Sergio Ramos said he ‘can’t wait to get playing and competing … as long as there is no risk of contagion’.

The third and fourth leagues in Spain will not complete their seasons, the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) confirmed on Wednesday.

In Germany the Bundesliga is restarting on Saturday 16 May and it is scheduled to run through to Saturday 27 June.

Are Real Madrid targeting another rebuild?

Are Real Madrid targeting another rebuild?

Every club is eager for football to return but perhaps none more so than Real Madrid. It will have been a fraught five weeks for Zinedine Zidane, whose side headed into the shutdown off the back of four defeats in seven games.

Dumped out of the Copa del Rey at home by Real Sociedad and with one foot out of the Champions League following a 2-1 loss to Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu, the season has not gone according to plan.

So much was expected of this new Madrid side following a summer of heavy spending, with £275m forked out on players such as Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy, Luka Jovic, Rodrygo and Eder Militao.

But with the side trailing Barcelona by two points with 11 La Liga games still to play, Zidane may well have used these dormant weeks contemplating ripping up his attempts at a reboot and starting all over again.

Buzz Sports caught up with Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero to run the rule over the current squad and what could happen this summer…

Lunin expected to challenge Courtois

Andriy Lunin will provide competition for Thibaut Courtois next season
Andriy Lunin will provide competition for Thibaut Courtois next season

“Thibaut Courtois will remain No 1. Zidane is happy with him and [club president] Florentino Perez loves him,” Montero told Sky Sports.

“The club’s general director Jose Angel Sanchez – Perez’s right-hand man – has been promoting a transfer policy that is not based on massive expenditure ever since the turn of the century. They are keen to bring in players and turn them into superstars where their values go up.”

Alphonse Areola was brought in by Zidane from Paris Saint-Germain on loan to provide competition for the Belgian, but having failed to oust him from the No 1 spot, neither the player or club will look to make this a permanent arrangement.

Thibaut Courtois remains first-choice goalkeeper and is yet to reach his peak
Thibaut Courtois remains first-choice goalkeeper and is yet to reach his peak

Zidane is well-stocked in this department, with the promising Ukrainian Andriy Lunin and the manager’s son, Luca, set to provide additional pressure on Courtois to perform next season.

Montero added: “Real Madrid now feel they can’t compete financially with the money from Manchester City and those clubs backed by Arab countries.

“Lunin didn’t play much at Leganes and Valladolid but they have confidence that he will be a very good goalkeeper in the future.”

SETIEN: MESSI INCENTIVE FOR MARTINEZ

SETIEN: MESSI INCENTIVE FOR MARTINEZ

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien has labelled Lautaro Martineza “great footballer” and believes the chance to play alongside Lionel Messi is a huge incentive for the Inter Milan striker.

“Lautaro Martinez is a great footballer,” Setien told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Messi likes him? We will have to ask him. All good players can attract Barcelona’s interest.

“As well as the fact that for many the fact of being able to play with Leo represents a huge incentive. Who wouldn’t want to play with Messi?”

BALE KEEN ON MLS SWITCH

BALE KEEN ON MLS SWITCH

Gareth Bale has declared he would be interested in joining the MLS at some point in his career. 

Bale, who has at times been frozen out under Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid, acknowledged that a lot of other world-class talents have made the move Stateside. 

When asked about MLS, the Welshman told the Hat-Trick Podcast: “I really like the league, it’s grown so much over the years. 

“When we come over and play in pre-season the games are difficult…it’s a league that’s on the up and still rising. A lot more players want to come to America now. I would definitely be interested in it.”