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JUANDE RAMOS has overseen a dramatic change of personnel at Montjuic as Espanyol get ready for the new season, but old fears about selling their best stars continue to haunt fans of the club.

Traditionally Barcelona's second club are seen as a selling club, as well as being a team that old stars go out to pasture with, a strange set of events that mirror that of Betis and Sevilla in Seville, where the side supported by the rich end up being the 'poorer' relation.

Eight new signings and ten departures signifies something of a clear out as Juande Ramos looks to stamp his authority on the club.

However, the furore surrounding Alex Manninger has sullied the reputation of Espanyol, slipping out of the agreement after Arsenal failed to give the player his registration after the Austrian failed to agree a termination deal with The Gunners.

The Budgies will feel this is fair given their own treatment in the transfer market which included German keeper Robert Enke opting for Barcelona having previously seemed set for Montjuic.

A superb mix of youth and experience awaits Juande Ramos and for once it appears they are going in the right direction - giving Jonathan Casas his chance at 16, whilst snapping up Maximiliano Rodriguez from under the noses of some of Europe's top teams.

With Alfredo Argenso and 21-year-old Gorka Iraizoz the only goalkeepers of note, it seems strange that the coach believes his side could do without Manninger, who was certainly tested during his time at Fiorentina last term.

Juande Ramos seems set on one of the youngest centre back pairings in Antoni Soldevilla (23) and Alberto Lopo (22) and this will be a severe test of their nerve.  Full back David Garcia is even younger at 21, as Xavi Roca finds himself the old man at the back, two years short of his 30th birthday.

A powerful midfield will help out the inexperienced back line, although this too is not the most aged in the division.

Rodriguez is just 21, but having won the World Youth Cup with Argentina, he certainly has experience of the big occasion and the talent to interest many sides in Europe.

Frenchman Alain Boghossian has been brought in to provide an old head to pull the strings, whilst Roger and Toni Velamazan will look to cement their reputations as promising players and take up the slack left by the departure of Enrique De Lucas to Chelsea.

Savo Milosevic looked poor on his return to Spanish football with Zaragoza and having been loaned out again by Parma, appears to have little future in Italy.  He and Martin Posse will fight to partner talismanic striker Raul Tamudo, who is still with Espanyol despite constant links abroad.

With Juande Ramos at the helm and the squad at his disposal, Espanyol must feel they can improve on last season's finish and it is a fair bet they will be able to do so. prediction 9th
Last season 14th

Star Player: Raul Tamudo
One to watch: Maxi Rodriguez

Ins: Milosevic (Parma), Luque (Atletico Madrid), Boghossian (Parma), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell's Old Boys), Xavi Roca (Villarreal), Fredson (Parana), Domoraud (Milan)

Outs: Ivo (Salamanca), Rotchen (Monterrey), Munteanu (Atletico/Albacete), Palencia (Cruz Azul), Mora (Xerez), De Lucas (Chelsea), Aganzo (Real Madrid/Valladolid), Pachenco (Internazionale), Paulo Sousa (retired).