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Pellegrini pledges future to Malaga

Malaga boss Marcelo Pellegrini has vowed to stay and steer the club through their current challenges as they prepare to face Greek side Panathinaikos in the Champions League play-off round.

• Champions League draw
• Cazorla signs for Arsenal
• Rondon signs for Rubin Kazan

Pellegrini said on Friday morning that the situation at Malaga was difficult but that he was committed to helping to turns things around.

"My situation is very clear at Malaga: to stay and lift the club out of these difficult moments," Pellegrini said. "Things are being done badly and late. I want to work with the club to improve what is happening in every aspect.

"The first step is to fix the late payments to players, then we can look forward. The players must be the number one priority."

Malaga fans expected ex-Villarreal boss Pellegrini to be given cash to strengthen the squad the summer after he guided the club into a first ever Champions League campaign, but the Qatari owners first tried to sell up and then announced that the operating budget must be cut significantly.

In recent days, midfielder Santi Cazorla has left for Arsenal for £16 million and striker Salomon Rondon was sold to Rubin Kazan for a reported £8 million. Others rumoured to be close to an exit include Dutch centre-half Joris Mathijsen, Italian midfielder Enzo Maresca and Portuguese utility man Eliseu.

Their coach said he hoped nobody else would leave before the club had the chance to make the lucrative Champions League group stages.

"This is the moment to think of the Champions League - then we can analyse the future of the players. Now is not the right time," he said. "The team will try to qualify and then we can look forward."

Los Boquerones play their first leg at home at La Rosaleda on August 21 or 22, with the return game in Greece on August 28 or 29.

Speaking before the draw was made, Pellegrini had said that he felt the spirit within the squad would take them through to the group stage.

"The players' mood has been affected but there is sufficient spirit to get through the play-off," the Chilean said. "That is what I always value the most, the motivation to win, to be the protagonist in games. I am convinced that will be seen in the Champions League. They have made an enormous effort."

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