REAL SOCIEDAD - REAL MADRID
Real Sociedad's ex-madridistas find their days are numbered
Illarra and recent arrival Willian José have little to worry about but Sergio Canales and particularly Esteban Granero, could be moving on from San Sebastián.
Real Sociedad have a significant number of former Real Madrid players on their books, but apart from recent signing Willian José who joined earlier this month, none of them are in their best moment. The most telling case of all is that concerning Esteban Granero. El Pirata finds himself in a particularly difficult situation - perhaps the most complicated moment since he signed outright for the club in 2014 as a replacement for Madrid-bound Illarramendi. His first season at Anoeta was cut short almost as soon as it had started when he suffered a serious knee injury in the opening Champions League group game against Shakhtar Donetsk. But his CV made impressive reading and La Real decided to exercise their right to buy the midfielder outright from QPR on a four-year deal, making him one of the squad's highest earners. But during the past two seasons Granero has never shown the kind of form he demonstrated at Real Madrid or even during his loan stints with Getafe. David Moyes was willing to listen to offers for the player this time last year but Granero stayed on. Now his situation hasn't seen any improvement, and he has no place in Eusebio's plans - the coach preferring Illarra with either Markel Bergara or the young Rubén Pardo as his central midfield pair. Espanyol have been the club who have shown the most interest in signing him.
Another former madridista Sergio Canales, has suffered similar fortunes to Granero. He suffered a serious knee injury last season, ironically, at the Bernabéu. It was his third ligament tear during what has been an incredibly unlucky. Canales is almost at the end of his rehabilitation now and his situation is very different to Granero's simply because under successive coaches Jacoba Arrasate and David Moyes, he never really found his ideal position within the side. He looked out of sorts when played out wide, better playing through the middle but that's the domain of captain Xabi Prieto, or Zurutuza...
Out of the four ex-madridistas, only Illarra will figure in the starting line-up tonight. Willian José has not had time complete a full pre-season and will be eased into the side gradually. La Real trust the Brazilian will finally end the jinx of mis-firing forwards they have signed in recent seasons, including Seferovic, Finnbogason and Jonathas.