Round-up: Signings and Gary Neville’s Valencia on Sunday

Let’s start off with the news that always raises a few eyebrows and often helps to create a renewed vigour around a club: new signings. During the January transfer window Sporting Director Macìa has brought in three new arrivals.


Damiao in training (photo: Real Betis)

The latest to come in was Brazilian forward Leandro Damiao, signed on a short-term contract until the end of the season. Damiao has a good record having played 17 times for Brazil and winning several titles in South America but has struggled for form the last few seasons having played for Internacional, Santos and Cruzeiro. Negotiations looked to have stalled to bring Damiao in, with the Betis board, being led by Ollero, in disagreement between their priorities. However, Haro and Catalan took over negotiations (explained later) and the deal was pulled off.

I’m just hoping he can score a few goals. Betis have the lowest goals scored in the whole league with just 15 in 22 games, which for me is incredibly boring! Even bloody Levante have scored 21 and Málaga 18!

Also coming in on-loan are exciting youngsters Martin Montoya and Charly Musonda. Montoya will be a familiar name to name having played full-back for Barcelona and Chelsea and recently on-loan at Inter Milan were he said ‘nothing was easy’. He’s chosen to come back to Spain and I think he can be a really good signing, especially with the injury of Piccini.

montoya and musonda

Musonda is a 19 year old Belgian attacking midfielder temporarily signed from Chelsea. He’s been described as one of the most exciting talents emerging out of Europe. He hasn’t featured in first-team action for Chelsea but he could provide a bit of spark in the centre of the park for Betis which has been severely lacking with Van der Vaart and Ceballos not really providing that impetus so far.

Ollero resigns, Haro new President

Now ex-president Juan Carlos Ollero resigned from his role at the club earlier on this week. It wasn’t an expected or planned move and he cited the differences between the board members as the reason why. It just highlights the tension and uncertainty filtering through the club at the minute, which is far from stable. The executive decisions now lie with the recently elected pair of Haro and Catalan. Ángel Haro García is now the new president and José Miguel López Catalán is vice-president.

I’m quite glad, I never thought Ollero quite showed the forward thinking and leadership the club needed, with Haro and Catalan we hope the club can stabilise itself and move on with the ambitious Ahora Betis Ahora project. They have a lot of work to do though with the many cracks showing within the board which isn’t good. It’s also just been announced that the club now have an official licence for FM Radio broadcasting and a new Real Betis TV channel.

Rubbing more salt in Valencia’s Gary Neville shaped wounds?

Now on to this weekend. Sunday see’s Gary and Phil Neville make the trip east to west to el Benito Villamarín. The pressure is mounting hugely on Gary Neville having been on the receiving end of a mid-week 7-0 defeat to Barcelona which he described as one of the worst moments of his football career. When your home crowd are shouting “Vete ya” and you still haven’t won a game in eight league matches, you know the situation isn’t great. He could also be without Spanish international forward Paco Alcácer for the trip to Sevilla.

Having grown up a MUFC, I’d love Neville to succeed but I’m really hoping Betis can capitalise on Valencia’s misfortunes and pull-off a result. Juan Merino has spoken out the need for the players to take responsibility and considers this game as a “final”. All three new signings could potential play on Sunday, but Cejudo is definitely out after picking up too many yellow cards and Kadir is injured. Joaquín has resumed training and looks OK to feature against his former club where he is considered a legend. Merino could start with two up front after a promising second half performance from Van Wolfswinkel and Rubén Castro.

Real Betis vs Valencia, 3pm (GMT) / 4pm (CET), Estadio Benito Villamarín.

Viva el Betis!

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