While Malaga may not be the most attractive destination following their relegation last season, one can't fault the club's fans for not being a fun bunch.
The Andalusians recently dropped a division for the second time in five years and are set to start afresh in the Primera Federacion, the third tier of Spain's league system. It was only seven years ago that the club placed eighth in La Liga and was accustomed top-half finishes among the country's elite, but today's prospects paint a very different picture.
And so supporters have been understandably annoyed at the lack of money seemingly available to attract new talent this summer. Manager Sergio Pallicer has brought in a raft of free signings to replace those who have headed for the exit, although those have brought in only £1.5million or so of fresh funds.
But that didn't prevent a group of dedicated (and happy-go-lucky) disciples from rocking up at Malaga airport to welcome new transfer to the club - whether they were aware of it or not. And the staged bit made for hilarious viewing as two unwitting passengers had very mixed reactions to the news they'd been 'signed'.
A hefty party of actors dressed in Malaga shirts and scarves (and even one mock 'sheikh') stood in arrivals waiting for the right targets to step through through the gate. They then swarmed their marks in hysterical scenes and presented the faux transfers with hastily mocked up shirts touting a made-up name and number.
The first oblivious bystander was an Irishman wearing a Boston Celtics jersey, who turned red before jumping in jubilation with his new fans. After taking photos under his new 'Spilberg 33' moniker, penning autographs and blasting a ball directly at a camera, the traveller conducted a brief interview, where he scored major brownie points for shouting: "Hala Malaga!"
"[I'm] very emotional, very emotional," said the newcomer as he played along with the gag. "I'd just like to thank everyone in Malaga, and I'd like to enjoy my stay here."
|His juggling ended in tears, however, after he blasted the ball into a camera lens (Image: @CabineSport/Twitter)|
|The first 'transfer' played along with the joke (Image: @CabineSport/Twitter)|
The second 'celebrity' wasn't as ready for the limelight and looked like a deer caught in headlights as the throng of Albicelestes made a beeline for him. He was christened 'Xan Keete 69' and blushed as his temporary 'security' sought to keep the swell of supporters under control.
His juggling presentation at least ended in less broken equipment as his volleyed two lay-ups back to their deliverer. And just like that, the modest holidaymaker grabbed his suitcase and parted a path through the crowd.
Watch video below..
Adeptos do Málaga deslocaram-se de propósito ao aeroporto para darem as boas-vindas a vários desconhecidos numa manifestação contra a falta reforços no plantel, que desceu à terceira divisão😅— Cabine Desportiva (@CabineSport) August 22, 2023
Créditos: @carliyolenervio pic.twitter.com/uATQ2aU10H
It was only a decade ago that Malaga were featuring in the quarter-finals of the Champions League under Manuel Pellegrini. That was the Chilean's final campaign at the club before departing for Manchester City, where he won a Premier League and League Cup double in his debut campaign.
The Andalusian outfit can only dream of such heights among Europe's elite these days, with almost no money to spend on new signings in the wake of disaster last term. Malaga will kick off the Primera Federacion season away to Castellon on Saturday, and the new-look squad can only hope fans maintain their upbeat mood as they get on the comeback trail.