Spanish football for many years has been dominated by just two teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona; though teams such as Valencia and Villarreal have mounted a challenge against this dominance they still remain in the shadow of two of football’s biggest clubs.
Though could this all be about to change? There is a club that for years has been on the fringes of Spain’s elite, but now with heavy investment behind them Malaga FC have set their sights on challenging the best in the country.
Already this summer the club have signed a number of players that suggest the club is looking to go to the next level, former Real Madrid striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy has joined on a free transfer from Hamburg, Spanish international Joaquin, who once cost £22.5m, has agreed to join from Valencia and highly rated French international Jeremy Toulalan has also joined up from Lyon.
So what has changed and allowed such a small club to rise up and prepare to take on the might of Spain’s big two? Since the early nineties the club have been on a rollercoaster ride of economic growth and downfall, in 1992 CD Malaga dissolved due to severe financial difficulties, though the club did live on through its ‘B’ team, CA Malagueno.
In 1994 after rising through the divisions a referendum of fans and club officials took place, and the decision was taken to rename the team Malaga club de futbol SAD. Under this new banner there was stability and the club prospered, producing a number of talented young players and enjoyed one of the most successful periods of its history.
Though this did not last long and after suffering relegation to the segunda division the team were once again in turmoil. It took two attempts for them return to the top flight and this certainly took its toll on the team.
In June 2010 everything changed and the club was bought by Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family and with this secured the long term future of Malaga and promised huge investment in players and management.
The new owner has delivered what he promised and now with experienced former Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini at the helm and additions such as Van Nistelrooy and Joaquin the new season promises to be one of the most exciting yet.
In all this summer Malaga have signed six new players with highly rated Argentinean play maker Diego Buonanotte moving from troubled River Plate, experienced Dutch defender Joris Mathijsen from Hamburg, and Nacho Monreal on free from Osasuna as well as number of other big names that joined the club in January.
With so many new players arriving it will be down to Pellegrini to make them gel and deliver the results. Perhaps challenging for the title is beyond their reach but certainly a European place is not an unreal prospect. One thing is for sure with new investment behind them Malaga’s dark days are a thing of the past and they are now ready to take their place amongst Spain’s elite.
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