Málaga Implodes: Pellegrini, Cazorla Out, Others To Follow

According to reports from Spain, Malaga CF will part with a good number of highly valued assets to pay off their debts. The first to go will be star midfielder Santi Cazorla, who is in London completing his move to Arsenal FC; coach Manuel Pellegrini has also been let go.

On Tuesday, I published a piece that reported on the crisis going on in Málaga: while the situation seemed dire, I said, it looked like the side would be able to drag itself out of its current mess with a slight injection of cash from owner Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani. I reported that the side was facing a liquidity crisis, and that as soon as Sheikh Al-Thani transferred the funds to the club--something that I assumed, due to some reports, would happen quickly--they would be able to clear up some of their debts.

In a relatively stunning reversal, Sheikh Al-Thani has decided not to transfer any more of his own money into the club that he purchased only a couple years ago. Instead, he has asked the club to find the money to pay down their debts by selling assets: the first to go, according to Spanish daily Marca, is star midfielder Santi Cazorla, who will, in a matter of hours, join Arsenal FC for €16 million.

Marca is also reporting that Málaga will release coach Manuel Pellegrini, as the club looks to make a fresh start. They could additionally look to sell other assets like highly valued Salomón Rondón, Jeremy Toulalan, Joaquín, or even the young starlet Isco.

These reports do not change the basic premise of my earlier article: reports that Málaga will be relegated to Segunda, or barred from the UEFA Champions League are incorrect, as they have come to terms with the groups to whom they owe money (this is all, as I said, pursuant to spanish player's union--AFE--and Liga rules).

These new moves will have a transformative effect on the balance of power in the Spanish Liga BBVA. Before the departures of Cazorla--considered by most people to be the best player on the squad--and Pellegrini (and the presumed departures of Rondón and company), Málaga were clearly one of the best sides in the league. They qualified for the UEFA Champions League last season (4th in the Liga), and looked to all the world like a team on a steep ascent towards the top of the table.

Now, Málaga can no long be expected to finish in--or even near--the top three in the Liga. They might not fall out of European contention (who isn't in European contention in Spain?), but their place among the Spanish elite is no longer a given.

The only thing that could save this team the embarrassment of falling--plummeting--from grace would be a very quick sale to another wealthy owner; and while there are many buyers rumored to be interested, none of them will take over quickly enough to salvage this unfortunate situation. When--if--new owners appear, they will inherit a Málaga that is broken, its most important components stripped, and the shell of the team in ruins.

They will need to rebuild the once-promising Costa del Sol empire. And it will take a lot of time.

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