Goal.com's Subhankar Mondal assesses the transfer situation of the three big Spanish clubs......It's Christmas time, so it's shopping time. The shops are giving all sorts of discounts on all sorts of things and customers are flocking to get them. After all, this festive season doesn't last long and if they are slow, then someone else will take the goodies.
The football market in Europe is about to embark on a similar shopping spree: the winter transfer period. The window will open in a few days' time and so will the door and clubs will rush in to try to get whichever players they think they should and which they think are affordable.
Which is why three of the biggest Spanish clubs, Valencia, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, would be nervously praying that the eyes of the footballing monsters do not turn towards Iberia. Because if they do, then all three are in trouble, or at least they could be.
None more so than Atletico, the 'other club from Madrid'. They might be the third biggest club in Spain but they are 15th in the table, just two points above the relegation zone. A European slot for next season looks like a country in faraway galaxy and there have been some rather concrete reports claiming that they could lose their most prized asset next month.
There is a strong suggestion that Sergio Aguero could leave for Chelsea. The player himself has been claimed that he will leave if Atleti need money and is confident that he will "fit with their style of play", flaring rumours that Carlo Ancelotti would be collaborating with Roman Abramovich to fly Aguero to London.
Atleti's other main striker, Diego Forlan, too has been linked with a move away from the Calderon. He has won both the Pichichi and the European Golden Shoe twice and although there are people who claim that the Manchester United flop is overrated, his record in the Spanish Primera Division dismisses these claims. But at 30 the Uruguayan international striker is not getting any younger and doesn't have too many top class suitors, although Liverpool have made some noise.
How Long Before Aguero Leaves?
Some of Atletico's other players too seem to be fostering an urge to move towards the exit: Maxi's contract with the Mattress-Makers ends at the end of the current season and Simao Sabrosa has been linked with Benfica. Of course, it doesn't look very feasible that Forlan, Maxi or Simao would move next month, but the problem is that given Atleti's current on-pitch state, these players could be reconsidering their future, None more so than Aguero, who is now getting the accolade that he always deserved and a move to a bigger and more stable club would perhaps be too much to resist.
And speaking of resistance, no club in Europe can lay a claim to having a stiffer combative spirit than Valencia. Last summer they were supposed to collapse, both as as a football team and as an institution. Los Che are in massive debt and inability to finish in a Champions League position for two successive years was slated to force them to offload their prized assets in the summer for 'cold, hard cash' that would keep the club afloat.
They almost did - David Villa was close to signing first for Real Madrid and then for Barcelona and David Silva and Juan Mata were consistently linked with moves to Catalunya - but eventually they didn't. Villa stayed, Silva stayed, Mata stayed and now Valencia are fourth in La Liga and going strong in the Europa League.
Has The Flight To England Been Booked?
The problem is that when the Transfer Monster smells blood, it doesn't leave the place at all. Even though it is hugely unlikely that Valencia would lose their major players in January. the popular consensus is that they will do so at the end of the season, a top four finish notwithstanding.
David Villa turned 28 earlier this month and since he knows that neither Madrid nor Barcelona would come for him again, only a move abroad would signal progress. The Spanish international striker himself has acknowledged that he will be interested to play in the Premier League and his departure could pave the way for Silva and Mata, both of whom could easily fit in at Barcelona.
Sevilla, though, could be a hard nut to crack. President Jose Mario del Nido is a proven tough negotiator who does not think twice before blocking a move against a player's wishes (remember Daniel Alves and Chelsea in 2007 summer?). He stayed the move of Luis Fabiano to Milan in the summer and although rumour clouds are hovering over the Brazilian international striker, it is unlikely that Del Nido would let the player leave without signing a better replacement, assuming Alvaro Negredo isn't being groomed to replace him.
Oh, Did I Miss The Chance To Move On?
The rise of Diego Capel and Diego Perotti hasn't gone unnoticed in Europe and you can bet that there are a few clubs eying them. They would be eying Jesus Navas too but given the player's much publicised problem of homesickness, he wouldn't be a very feasible option at the moment.
Also, it isn't that Sevilla haven't sold players: Dani Alves and Seydou Keita both went to Barcelona in 2008. But unlike Atleti and Valencia, the Andalucians are not enforced by circumstances or financial worries to sell players. The Rojiblancos are a well-run, well-managed club who concentrate as much on short-term goals as on long-term ambitions.
To top it all, Sevilla are in great shape and form to finish third in Spain this campaign and are through to the knockout stages of the Champions League. Not only that, but they do have a great chance to reach the quarter-finals too as they take on CSKA Moscow in the last 16 stage. The European adventure should continue for the Seville side a little longer.
Which implies that their top players will stay put in Andalucia a little longer.
Subhankar Mondal, Goal.com