Yesterday De Lucas was shown around Stamford Bridge and presented to his new team-mates. He then appeared on Chelsea TV to share his first impressions. Meanwhile, Chelsea's lawyers were preparing their case against Alavés and Espanyol.
Espanyol's Director General, Josep Lluís Marcó, was in London at the same time. Although the main reason for his visit was to meet with Arsenal to tie up the loan of Gooners goalkeeper, Axel Manninger, it is assumed that he has tried to advance Espanyol's case in the conflict surrounding one of his ex-employees, Enrique De Lucas.
However, apparently Marcó has a very thin case. Deep in Stamford Bridge offices, Claudio Ranieri and Chelsea's lawyers met to discuss De Lucas' contractual mess. Ranieri was adamant that De Lucas must not slip through Chelsea's fingers and gave, apparently, clear instructions as to how to resolve the conflict with Alavés and Espanyol. Chelsea lawyers are alleged to have assured Ranieri that FIFA would decide on Chelsea's side, and that Espanyol cannot request any training rights.
Over the weekend, Alavés made public the contract Club President, Gonzalo Antón, signed with De Lucas in April. The document, say Alavés, is neither a pre-contract agreement nor a verbal promise but a fully-blown contract, with all the necessary clauses, including one about breach of contract and compensation to which Alavés would be entitled.
BlueAndWhiteArmy has been reporting on this mess regularly ever since De Lucas signed for Chelsea. During this time, the information (much of which comes from Spanish sources) has often been conflicting. This is one such point: up until now, it has been said that De Lucas only signed a pre-contract agreement with Alavés.
If it were the case that the document De Lucas signed with Alavés is actually a fully-fledged contract, Chelsea would be in a difficult position. Having signed one contract, and then signed another with Chelsea constitutes a clear breach of contract, and Chelsea would be hard pushed to contest this. A settlement would necessarily ensue, with all the haggling over the amounts to be paid to Alavés in compensation. Also, if taken to the courts, De Lucas' registration as a Chelsea player would be held up, although a provisional registration could be issued, allowing the midfielder to play in Blue.
If anybody has broke the contract, it is De Lucas. Like selling a house twice. Now Chelsea has to decide whether they want this player that much.
Bad start anyway, can't trust or like much of a player who comes in with sucha mess.
It's getting better Grab some popcorn and put your feet up, a true soap opera
''War'' between Espanyol and Alaves re De Lucas...
Espanyol want to know how Alaves got De Lucas to sign
a 4 year contract (if he did) when he was under contract to Espanyol. Chelsea and the agent of De Lucas
are keeping quiet whilst the Spanish clubs have a real
go at each other. Alaves may be destroying their own case as they up the ante.
Espanyol have hired Jean-Louis Dupont as their lawyer to defend their case to recuperate the costs of training Enrique de Lucas. Dupont was the lawyer of Marc Bosman in the landmark case which resolved the conditions whereby out of contract players can leave their clubs.
Espanyol claim that they are merely defending their interests in their argument with Chelsea and with Alavés over these training costs. To do so, their Director General, Josep Lluís Marcó, has called upon the services of Jean-Louis Dupont, the lawyer who defended Marc Bosman and who won the landmark case which became known as the Bosman ruling.
Dupont was in Barcelona last week at a Conference. Marcó made the most of this presence in Catalunya to hire Dupont. The De Lucas case will certainly call upon all of Dupont's expertise, in which he will be defending the opposite side to that he took when he successfully won with Marc Bosman. In the latter, he was defending the rights of a player against those of a club. With Espanyol, he will be defending a club against the interests of a player.
As well as Dupont, who will be asked to deal with Espanyol's relations with FIFA, Espanyol have also hired a separate lawyer for handling the discussions with the Spanish Football Federation, Javier Tebas
Espanyol hope to make a formal declaration and presentation this week to explain the steps that they intend to take to ensure that their rights are recognised.
De Lucas has signed a four-year deal with Chelsea, but Alavés are also saying that he signed a deal with them. Espanyol are demanding reimbursement of their training rights wherever De Lucas plays, although Alavés state that, according to their agreement with De Lucas, there is a clause which allows De Lucas to play outside of Spain for one year if it was not possible for Alavés to agree with Espanyol over these training rights. According to Alavés, De Lucas can play at Chelsea for one year, but will be expected back in Spain for the 2003-2004 season. Alavés will therefore avoid paying €2 million (£1,3 million) in training rights.
Alavés protest their innocence in their disagreement with Espanyol over De Lucas. There was no 'set-up' with Chelsea. Also, Mendieta says that he would like to go to Chelsea: there is no room for him at the new-look Barça, where there might be a place for Winston Bogarde?
Despite accusations by Espanyol that there was some kind of agreement with Chelsea that Enrique De Lucas would spend one year in London before joining Alavés, the president of the Basque club, Gonzalo Antón, has stated publicly that his club behaved 'openly and rightly', and that there was no 'bridging operation so as not to pay Espanyol their training rights' with Chelsea in the contractual agreements for the Catalan midfielder.
Antón added that, with regard to De Lucas, "Alavés has behaved in a gentlemanly fashion and Espanyol has no reason to complain in public". He said that he had lunch with Espanyol's president Daniel Sánchez Llibre, as well as the club's Director General, last week, in which he showed them the contract that they had signed with De Lucas to allay any suspicion.
Antón said further that there had been no negotiations with Chelsea and asked that relations between Alavés and Espanyol not be troubled.
All this is reported in today's 'El Mundo Deportivo'. However, as the newspaper points out, the player who signed a contract with Alavés is currently playing with Chelsea, who also signed a contract with De Lucas. All this has happened either through the duplicity of the player or with the consent of Alavés - who could end up with the player (next year) but without having to pay Espanyol a penny. 'El Mundo Deportivo' ends by asking readers: 'Do you understand anything? Us neither…'
Alaves have said that they are somewhat surprised by Espanyol's declarations, in which they question Alavés' behaviour and question the latter's version of events by suggesting that Alavés colluded with Chelsea to avoid paying Espanyol De Lucas' training rights. Alavés are particularly upset by the damaging declaration of Espanyol's lawyers, which have cast doubt about Alavés integrity in this affair.
Alavés and Espanyol have a long history of co-operation, particularly when the Basque club was playing in the lower divisions, when Espanyol lent out players to Alavés to gain experience. These players include Raúl Tamudo, who has become one of Espanyol's most successful players. The co-operation was to the benefit of both teams. It is for this reason that Espanyol feel miffed that one of the pearls of their youth academy, Enrique De Lucas, should go to Alavés without the latter having to pay a single Euro via one year at Chelsea which Espanyol suspect was a set-up precisely to avoid paying these rights.
Meanwhile, at Barça, the squad restructuring seems to continue under the new coach, Luis Van Gaal. Barça have become involved in a strange signing that could be of indirect interest to Chelsea: that of Argentine midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme. Although he has been purchased by Barça, it is not sure that he will actually play in the Camp Nou, as Barça already have a large number of non-EU players, and according to the rules of the Spanish Liga, only 3 non-EU players can be on the pitch at one time. It may be possible for Riquelme to play overseas for one year while Barcelona offload one of their other non-EU players, of which there are many in the midfield, such as Fàbio Rochemback, Marcio Geovanni, and … Rivaldo. Or Riquelme might stay, while Barça shuffle around other parts of their squad.
Whatever, the arrival of Riquelme places some doubts as to the space, in the current squad, for Gaizka Mendieta - especially in the Barça midfield which now needs to be reduced: Barça were said to be reviving their interest in the Basque midfielder. Today's 'Marca' suggests, however, that Athletic Bilbao might be interested in the player, according to sources in Italy which suggest that Athletic have asked about Mendieta for a possible loan. The Basque club tried to loan Mendieta already last winter. Barça were also considering a loan - but this was before the Riquelme operation was finalised.
Lazio, Mendieta's current owners, are not interested in a loan and are looking to sell the player. The Rome club are in difficult financial straits, and are looking to sell players surplus to requirements in order to purchase fresh talent. From that point of view, any sale to a Spanish club is handicapped by the clause in the contract that saw Lazio purchase Mendieta from Valencia, whereby the latter has to be paid some £8 million. The sale to a non-Spanish club is therefore the best option for Lazio.
Enter Chelsea, said to be the most favoured destination for Mendieta. 'Marca' suggests that Mendieta is close to landing at Chelsea and Claudio Ranieri, a coach Mendieta knows well. Indeed, 'Marca' says that Ranieri wants Mendieta at all costs, and even that Mendieta himself has already said that he would like to play, next season, at Stamford Bridge'. Oh joy!
Finally, in the restructuring of the Barça squad, apparently Van Gaal is looking for a central defender. It is encouraging to note that the Spanish press suggests that Winston Bogarde would be the solution to this problem. We at BAWA hope that Chelsea, to ensure his departure, whould be prepared to let Bogarde go on the cheap…