Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini has praised his players for reaching the Champions League, but warned new signings are needed.
Los Boquerones held Panathinaikos to a goalless draw in Athens last night to ensure their first ever participation in Europe's premier club competition.
“I am very proud of this group,” Pellegrini stated after full time at the Olympic Stadium. “We overcame many problems, set ourselves the goal of the group stage, and succeeded.”
The club's owner Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani has withdrawn funding this summer, forcing them to sell many of their best players and leaving Pellegrini with a very thin squad.
“With 16 players it is impossible to compete on three fronts. We have three days to make a squad that is competitive. Shaping the workforce is 80 per cent of the success of a season.”
And it seems the tactician may be about to get his wish. AS report that the Andalusians are close to signing Manchester City's Roque Santa Cruz, Barcelona's Andreu Fontas and Benfica's Javier Saviola.
Santa Cruz had been expected to join Real Betis, where he spent last season on loan, but is said to have been won over by the presence of Pellegrini and his friend Martin Demichelis. Chilean midfielder Manuel Iturra has already arrived, passing a medical and signing a one year deal yesterday.
Pellegrini is not fussed what opposition Malaga are drawn with on Friday.
“I do not care. We'll face two very strong seeded opponents. We will try to pass to the next round.”