MADRID - Cesc Fabregas is itching to make
his La Liga debut for Barcelona now a strike over unpaid player
wages has been resolved and the season can get underway.
The Spain midfielder, who has returned to his boyhood club
after eight years with English Premier League side Arsenal, has
a chance to make his first league appearance at the Nou Camp on
Monday when the champions host Villarreal.
They were due to begin their title defence at Malaga last
weekend but the players' union (AFE) called a strike to force
the football league (LFP) to stump up more cash to cover wages
not paid by clubs in financial difficulty.
The two sides finally sealed an agreement on Thursday,
meaning the second round of matches can take place starting on
Saturday with Sporting Gijon against Real Sociedad. The
first round matches will be played in January.
"We just want everything to get going now so that we can get
back to playing matches," Fabregas, 24, told a news conference
before Friday's European Super Cup clash with Porto in Monaco.
Too much attention had also been paid to an ugly brawl that
marred Barca's Spanish Super Cup victory over Real Madrid this
month, Fabregas's first silverware with the Catalan giants, he
"There has been too much talk," he said. "The matter is
As well as Fabregas, coach Pep Guardiola has added Chile
forward Alexis Sanchez to his squad as the European champions
aim for a club record-equalling fourth straight domestic title.
Barca's bitter rivals Real Madrid, meanwhile, have bolstered
their roster with Spanish forward Jose Callejon, Turkish
midfielders Hamit Altintop and Nuri Sahin, Portuguese left-back
Fabio Coentrao and French central defender Raphael Varane.
Coach Jose Mourinho, who has come under fire for jabbing a
finger into the eye of Guardiola's assistant during the Super
Cup fracas, has also been handed more power by president
Florentino Perez as he seeks to end a relatively barren run for
the nine-times European champions.
Real begin their bid to end Barca's stranglehold on the
Spanish title at Real Zaragoza on Sunday.
Wealthy and ambitious Malaga, who were bought by a member of
the Qatar royal family at the end of the 2009/10 season, have
been the most active in the transfer market during the close
season and may surprise some of the more established clubs if
coach Manuel Pellegrini can get the players to gel.
The south-coast side has splashed out on big names including
Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, Spain midfielder Santi
Cazorla and winger Joaquin.
The club's Brazil striker Julio Baptista, who had stints at
Arsenal and AS Roma, has set a top-six finish and a place in
Europe next season as the campaign's objective.
"With a lot of hard work we can get there," he told the
club's website. "If we don't manage that then
we won't have reached our goal."
Valencia, third last season, host Racing Santander on
Saturday, while Granada entertain fellow promoted side
Real Betis in Saturday's late kick-off.
Rayo Vallecano, whose promotion at the end of last season
means there are four Madrid-based clubs in the top flight, play
at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
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