I have to go back on something I posted just a short while ago. At the end of November, I responded to rumors linking Julio Furch to the Liga MX Apertura 2018 champions in exchange for Cecilio Dominguez and Renato Ibarra. At the time, I said America should go for the move, despite the hefty price tag, but recent events and a shiny new trophy have changed my mind.
So now, when new rumors pop up, linking Ibarra to Santos Laguna for Jonathan Rodriguez, I respond in kind. Club America should not move Renato Ibarra away from the club, unless they receive an amazing deal.
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Why the change of heart? First of all, Club America looks set to lose one of the players I felt they could lean on in the absence of Ibarra. Diego Lainez appears on his way to Europe, potentially being transferred to Ajax in the winter window. If that happens, Ibarra becomes the driver of the attack for America.
We saw first-hand the impact Ibarra has on Las Aguilas, when he put on an absolute show in his return to the starting-eleven against Pumas UNAM in the 2nd-leg of their semifinal match. His ability to get forward, as well as set up and make runs in attack, was on display in the 6-1 drubbing. With Renato playing on the right and Mateus Uribe seemingly settling into his place with America, the Aguilas attack looked down-right frightening. Ibarra even played a big role in making Roger Martinez look as though he’s figured out how to play in Mexico.
On the flip side, we were largely disappointed with what we saw from Julio Furch in La Liguilla, as Santos Laguna were unable to muster a single goal in two legs against Monterrey. Jonathan Rodriguez had nine goals during his Apertura 2018, but disappeared in a few matches and is more of an attacker than a creator. Certainly, America could use some clinical finishers in the final third, as Julio Furch and, to a lesser extent, Jona Rodriguez could become for the champs, but with Lainez potentially leaving, it seems a lot to ask Mateus Uribe to do himself, and Jeremy Menez will be returning from injury and need time to re-acclimate. Ibarra would presumably play a major role in Clausura 2019, barring some major signing to replace what he brings.
Ibarra is just 27-years-old. To send him off to Santos Laguna for a 25-year-old Rodriguez wouldn’t gain much in the age department and might even make Los Guerreros stronger. In 17 matches (10 started) Ibarra contributed two goals, five assists, and 1.9 successful dribbles per game. That type of creativity and technical ability would be hard to replace.
I’m not totally opposed to Ibarra leaving Las Aguilas, despite the title of the piece. I have yet to see a rumored swap that would make me believe it would be worth it, however. Perhaps America have some creative midfielder they intend to sign in the winter that I’ve yet to be made aware of. I don’t have faith that Cecilio Dominguez can be that guy, though it seems Piojo Herrera is a fan. If the only option to help America at the striker position is to move their best creative player, I’m just not sure it makes sense. After all, I believe the Apertura 2018 champs won without a dominant striker. I’m blanking on the name of that team, though.