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Real Madrid's new transfer strategy makes for a quiet summer

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop and Alexis Nunes discuss Manchester United's reported plans to make one last attempt to sign Gareth Bale from Real Madrid in the final week of the transfer window.

Florentino Perez (July 7, 2001): "We will take this club to the place where it belongs based on Zidanes and Pavones."

Florentino Perez (June 6, 2009): "I've only followed the path set by Santiago Bernabeu: some of the best players in the world (Alfredo Di Stefano), the best of [other teams in] Spain (Amancio Amaro) and, with them, the best from our own cantera (Raul).

For almost a decade, Real Madrid's signing strategy looked so simple that president Florentino Perez was able to summarise...

 By Lee Roden

Thomas Vermaelen climbs the pecking order among Barcelona's defenders

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno gives his take on the slow starts for both Barcelona and Real Madrid and believes there should be more concern at the Bernabeu than at Camp Nou.
Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique has appeared to rule out Neymar moving to Manchester United
FC Barcelona exorcised their Super Copa demons with a hard-fought victory over Athetic Bilbao at San Mames.
Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique insists Barca can cope with the departure of Pedro, despite his side's ongoing transfer ban.

For nine months, it felt like Thomas Vermaelen's only job at Barcelona was to be the butt of cruel jokes.

Almost as soon as he had signed for the Catalans last August, it was confirmed that the Belgian was injured and required time on the treatment table, a scenario that would continue throughout the majority of his first season at the Camp Nou.

Somewhat inevitably, there were supporters at his former club Arsenal who laughed, while plenty of Barcelona fans did, too.

The injury-troubled player was...

 By Rob Train

Benzema's return will bring cohesion back to Real Madrid attack

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno gives his take on the slow starts for both Barcelona and Real Madrid and believes there should be more concern at the Bernabeu than at Camp Nou.

Ahead of his first competitive match in charge of Real Madrid, Rafa Benitez spoke about the liberty he plans to allow his forwards this season. It was a line he had also used before the friendly match against Valerenga in Oslo earlier this month: "If we analyse Bale's movements, in the first half he was more on the left with James Rodriguez, and the second he was more through the middle. It's important that players have mobility, that freedom of movement."

Both matches ended goalless. In Gijon,...

Real Madrid need to improve or Rafa Benitez's honeymoon will soon be over

ESPN FC analyst Craig Burley sounds off on the "crisis" at Real Madrid after drawing their La Liga opener against Sporting Gijon and the questionable tactics that Rafa Benitez has put into place.
ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno gives his take on the slow starts for both Barcelona and Real Madrid and believes there should be more concern at the Bernabeu than at Camp Nou.

For those who dare to dream, for those who hate hegemony, for the directors of football who must rely on brains ahead of budgets and for the fans of regional "David" clubs who hate the fact that the news is dominated by Goliath versus Goliath, these have been a good couple of weeks in Spanish football.

Barcelona were humbled by Athletic Club in the Super Cup, as were Madrid -- or at least frustrated -- by Sporting Gijon on the opening weekend of the Liga season.

We all know it's early and that to...

Barcelona must replace Pedro with talent from La Masia

Barcelona midfielder Pedro Rodriguez explains his reasons for leaving his boyhood club to join Chelsea in the Premier League this past week.

Barcelona have an obvious lack of depth up front following Pedro's departure from the club that raised him to join former Blaugrana employees Jose Mourinho and Cesc Fabregas at Chelsea.

As the Tenerife-born forward knows only too well, the Catalans' imposing front line of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar is second-to-none in the history of football, and unless they're injured or banned, the three are bound to feature in every game for the remainder of the season.

However, manager Luis Enrique...

 By Ed Alvarez

Real Madrid suffering due to Rafa Benitez's overcomplicated approach

The ESPN FC crew weigh in on Rafa Benitez playing Gareth Bale in the hole rather than James Rodriguez.
Here are five things you didn't know about the weekend's La Liga action.

On Sunday evening, Real Madrid opened their La Liga season with a disappointing 0-0 draw in Gijon at the hands of the youngest and least expensive squad of the tournament, Sporting. Some Madridistas could find solace in the fact that their team took 25 shots and dominated the match, especially in the second half. It's also fair to think that they probably deserved a victory at the end of regulation.

However, the visitors' performance made it obvious that their hectic preseason has not been enough...