La Liga Review's regular look at the Spanish football papers sees Lyon's Benzema being linked with Barcelona; Real Madrid ready to get involved in a legal battle with Sevilla for Spain's top goal scorer Luis Fabiano; Aguero going nowhere and Luis Aragones saying that Raul is past it...
La Liga Review can't get very excited about doing the daily paper review today. I'm still sitting in that Ice rink next to the Camp Nou trying to sort out interviews ahead of the Champions league semi final next week. Xavi is all set up for tomorrow, which should be good: he's one of the more erudite players around and is always prepared to engage with the press.
The rest of the morning as been a pretty frustrating exercise in trying to pull rabbits out of hats: only this particular rabbit is called Johan and he's just revealed that he was the victim of a kidnap attempt whilst playing for Barcelona back in 1978. That's kick-started a bit of a stampede for ten minutes of the Dutchman's time and with a champions league semi final against Manchester United coming up next Wednesday, there is a queue a mile long outside casa Cruyff. Needless to say, the patron saint of FC Barcelona isn't about to drop everything and re-arrange his schedule just because La Liga Review is on the phone. Again.
So I'm sat here with the sports papers in front of me wondering what tosh I'm going to focus upon today. The Madrid press are dominated by the build up to tonights Copa del Rey final between Valencia and Getafe - but I've already written about that here.
The Barcelona papers, SPORT and Mundo Deportivo have convinced themselves that FC Barcelona will be going all out to sign Karim Benzema from Lyon.
Both Barcelona sports papers claim that the Barcelona sporting director, Txiki Begiristain was present at Tuesday evening's French cup quarter final tie between Lyon and Metz to have another a look the 20 year old forward while making official contact with Lyon president Jean Michel Aulas: formally notifying him of Barcelona's interest.
It is not known how Barcelona's interest will be received by both club and player. Several months ago Benzema signed a new deal with Lyon that ties him to the club until 2013, and he is reported as having made a decision that he will not consider leaving the Ligue 1 side until he has gained, at the very least, a further 12 months experience playing in France.
Barcelona, however, believe that the resolve of both Lyon and the player can be tested with the Catalans willing to offer up to 30 million euros for the young forward.
Is there any truth in this story?
Quite possibly, yes.
Karim Benzema fits perfectly the profile of the kind of player who FC Barcelona feel they should be aiming to recruit this summer. With the imminent departure of Ronaldinho and, quite possibly Deco, the club feels that after two disappointing and frustrating seasons, it is time for the Laporta regime to return to the blueprint that bought them success back in 2006: Vice president Ferran Soriano's virtuous circle.
This means recruiting a player who, rather than being an established household name - a Galactico - the club seeks out a player on the verge of making the big time, someone who's star is in the ascendancy - yet enough of a star to make an impact upon the global football scene. A player who will become a Galactico playing for Barcelona.
Karim Benzema in 2008 is seen as the Ronaldinho or Deco of 2003.
The biggest obstacle to Barcelona completing the deal, aside from persuading Lyon to let him go, will be in the form of competition from a host of Europe's biggest clubs. The powerful Benzema, similar to the young Brazilian Ronaldo, has already received serious enquiries from Milan, Chelsea, Manchester United and Real Madrid and his impressive stats have not gone unnoticed: 32 goals in all competitions this season - 17 league, 7 domestic cup, 1 league cup, 5 Champions League & 2 in the Peace Cup.
The other story dominating the Catalan papers involves Ronaldinho and the claim that talks with AC Milan's Adriano Galliani will resume in Barcelona next week, as all parties concerned negotiate a fee somewhere in between the 30 million being asked for and the 20 million being offered.
Aside from the build up to the cup final, the Madrid press, indulge in a fair bit of transfer gossip of their own. MARCA, continues to insist that Luis Fabiano will be playing for Real Madrid next season. It is reported that Calderon and Mijatovic are certain that they can negotiate with GSI in order to secure the player's registration without having to get involved in bartering with the Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido. The whole process has previously been covered here, and needless to say is sure to rumble on as one of the transfer saga's of the summer.
For his part, Luis Fabiano, has already started to hint that his time in Sevilla could be up. This season's leading goal scorer, the Pichichi, threw a bit of a tantrum at being substituted in the game against Mallorca at the weekend, and said afterwards "I'm always being subbed, if he (Manolo Jimenez) is going to keep taking me off I might as well sit on the bench."
There is also lengthy interview with Enrique Cerezo in MARCA. The Atletico Madrid president responds to questions regarding the interest from Arsenal and Real Madrid in Kun Aguero, and says "We have received no offers. We know nothing about any bids. Kun is here at Atletico and here he is going to stay. Nobody should doubt this. "
"I will not be selling Kun Aguero to Real Madrid or any other club. Atletico Madrid is a buying, not a selling club" added the man who sold Fernando Torres to Liverpool.
And that's about it really.
There's lots of other stuff and nonsense such as Daniele de Rossi also being a Real Madrid target, mischievous hacks asking Samuel Eto'o if Barcelona will be lining up to applaud Real Madrid as league champions at the Bernabeu and a few quotes from Luis Aragones, including this one: " I won't be taking Raul to the Euros because its time to start building for the future, and Raul's time has passed" said the 80 year old Spanish national coach.
I'm off to do some proper work, start making phone calls and stop wondering why it's ninety degrees in an ice rink.