The ongoing saga over Oriol Riera’s transfer to Deportivo La Coruña continues.
According to the Spanish media, the Deportivo coach Víctor Sánchez del Amo was pleased with Riera’s performances during the loan spell that started in January. The 28 year old Catalan made 21 appearances, scoring four goals as Deportivo managed to avoid relegation from La Liga. They eventually finished in 16th place. Sánchez del Amo is keen to finalise his squad before training resumes on July 2nd.
Reports suggest that Riera and Deportivo have agreed terms, but the clubs have still not agreed the transfer fee for the player whose contract at Wigan runs to 2017. Two other La Liga clubs, Granada CF and Levante, are also reported to be interested in the player, but he has made it clear that Deportivo is his preference.
Latics reportedly paid Osasuna €3m for Riera last summer and are keen to cut their losses by asking €2.5m. Deportivo have offered €2m.
The heyday of the Galician club has clearly passed. Despite the population of the city being only around 200,000 they were competing with Barcelona and Real Madrid, just over ten years ago. They won La Liga in 1999-00 with a star studded team including Diego Tristan, Djalminha, Roy Makaay and Mauro Silva. In fact from 1992–93 to 2003–04, apart from their title win, they finished in second place four times, and another four times in third place. They competed in the Champions League for five consecutive years, being defeated by Mourinho’s Porto in the semi-final of 2004.
Their period in the top flight came to an end in 2011, but they went back up the following season only to be relegated again in 2013. However, they once again bounced back to the top flight the following season.
Deportivo are clearly not in a position to splash the cash as they might have done in their heyday. Neither will Latics be keen to take a significant loss on their original outlay. Although some reports suggest that the talks have stalled it is in the interests of both clubs to reach an agreement.
Latics have clearly made a decision not to try to persuade Riera to return to Wigan, where his salary would be out of tune with most of his League 1 teammates. They will probably have to settle to a figure closer to what Deportivo have been offering.
Neither are Granada CF nor Levante likely to want to pay too much for Riera. Levante are the poor relations in the city of Valencia, their last contact with Latics being in Arouna Kone’s transfer in 2012. The Granada franchise is owned by Giampaolo Posso, who also owns Udinese and Watford. His usual mode of operation is in using a superb scouting network across the world to buy young, up and coming players, turning them into stars, then selling sell them for a good profit.
The likelihood is that Riera will be staying in Spain, most probably in Galicia.