Further confusing an already complicated affair, Real Sociedad officially announced the acquisition of Argentine goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli.
On July 18, Manchester City struck a deal in the region of £4million with Rulli’s parent club, Deportivo Maldonado in Uruguay’s second division, who had the player on loan in San Sebastian since purchasing him from Estudiantes in 2014.
It was known Rulli would see out his loan until December, following which, the Basque club could have an option to buy 70% of his rights.
A statement on Real Sociedad’s website confirmed the 24-year-old Rulli has signed until the end of the 2021-22 season, but no further details were made available.
Having firmly established himself as number one goalkeeper at the Anoeta, Rulli is currently with the Argentine Olympic squad at Rio 2016, playing in both group games thus far.
His availability for Real’s La Liga opener at home to Real Madrid on August 22 will ultimately depend on the Olympic tournament, with the final in Rio de Janeiro taking place two days prior.
Meanwhile, Rulli’s connection to Deportivo Maldonado raises further ire in relation to Third Party Ownership, with the club accused of being a bridge team for the sale of South American players, by exploiting Uruguay’s lenient tax regulations.
Set up in 2010 by UK racehorse owner Malcolm Caine along with London-based lawyer Graham Shear, Maldonado made £8.58m from the transfers of Alex Sandro and Marcelo Estegarribia, without either, like Rulli, ever playing a game for the club.
Ultimately, Caine and Shear receive backing from the Stellar Group, a London investment fund headed by Jonathan Barnett, the protagonist in Gareth Bale’s £85m transfer to Real Madrid.
The possibility of Rulli returning to Manchester City remains.
City have an option to bring Rulli back in 2018, but despite reports during the summer, new manager Pep Guardiola is content with Joe Hart as his main goalkeeper for the time being.