León is intent on remaining a protagonist, Cruz Azul wants to end its title drought, while the Chivas scramble to replenish their roster.
The transfer season is in full swing and several Liga MX teams are making headlines – although most of them are about rumored transactions, not actual signings. In this edition of Transfer Tracker, we’ll look at three teams – León, Cruz Azul and the Chivas – that are making some real noise already.
La Fiera eager to roar again
The Esmeraldas of León surprised oddsmakers by finishing atop the Liga MX table last season and they are determined to stay at the top. After a splendid regular season that was highlighted by a league record 12-game win streak, León ran out of gas in the Final.
MVP candidate Angel Mena was worn down and star striker José Juan Macías was called away for national team duty (the Under-20 World Cup) and coach Ignacio Ambriz simply did not have additional weapons on the bench. Ownership is actively addressing that situation.
The Esmeraldas snagged Argentine striker Leo Ramos during the Lobos BUAP fire sale as the Puebla-based club prepared to sell the team to Ciudad Juárez. Ramos flashed onto the scene during the Apertura 2018 season, scoring 8 goals in 9 games to lead the Lobos. Last season, the burly forward again scored 8 goals.
Ownership has expressed its intention to buy Macías’ contract now that his season-long loan deal has expired. However, the 19-year-old striker is attracting attention from European clubs, so he might not be on León’s roster when the Apertura 2019 begins.
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Meanwhile, León is looking to broker a similar loan deal with the Chivas to acquire another young striker – José de Jesús Godínez. It appears as though management is committed to giving coach Ambriz better options up front.
The Esmeraldas have also been looking at former América star Mikey Arroyo. The 32-year-old winger is back home in Ecuador but apparently has interest in returning to Liga MX.
Cementeros plugging holes
Cruz Azul finished first two seasons ago but playoff success is what they are looking for now. The Cementeros are desperate to end their 22-year Liga MX title drought and their aging defense is a major concern. To address that, Cruz Azul signed young Paraguayan stud Juan Escobar. The 23-year-old signed on from Cerro Porteño and came highly recommended from Pablo Aguilar, his new teammate and fellow Paraguayan.
Coach Pedro Caixinha is also asking for an upgrade at right back after José Madueña did not live up to expectations and Gerry Flores failed to recover from injury. Management sent out feelers to former Pumas star Efraín Juárez who is playing in Norway, but he is not keen on moving back to Mexico yet. They’ll have to address this trouble spot later this summer.
Racing Club midfielder Guillermo Matías Fernández, 27, flew to Mexico City from Argentina to take a physical in hopes of finalizing a transfer to Cruz Azul. If he signs, he will boost Caixinha’s flexibility because “Pol” can play anywhere in midfield.
The Cementeros will also look to add forwards after Martín Cauteruccio underperformed last season. Leading scorer Milton Caraglio (12 goals) who often plays as a lone striker in coach Caixinha’s offense could use some help to lighten his load.
Chivas in a hurry to improve
The Chivas face relegation concerns in the next year and their roster has serious shortcomings. And they are restricted by their long-cherished Mexican-only player policy. Beyond that, their front office has been a disaster in recent years, and transfer mistakes have compounded their alleged financial woes.
Errors this summer could make their fight to avoid demotion that much more difficult.
Thus far, Guadalajara has two new players, both of whom are former Chivas: goalie José Antonio Rodríguez (Lobos BUAP) and defender Oswaldo Alanis (Oviedo, Spain’s second division). The Chivas have also been linked to defender Antonio Briseño (Portugal’s Feirense), winger Juergen Damm (Tigres) and midfielders Daniel Alvarez (Necaxa) and Alfonso González (Monterrey).
Briseño, 25, is the closest to coming aboard, but he and the team are haggling over wages. His demands appear based on the fact that he played in Europe, even though Feirense suffered demotion. The speedy Damm, 26, was once considered a big-time prospect but his career has gone nowhere fast, but the Chivas front office appears willing to shell out 11 million dollars to the Tigres … and that doesn’t factor in his salary demands.
Alvarez is a shifty, creative midfielder but he was unable to win a starting spot in Necaxa. Still he is only 24. González, also 24, could be the best of the lot, but he is coming of a knee injury. “Ponchito” is a creative midfielder with vision and he was a member of Mexico’s World Cup-winning Under-17 team in 2011.
Perhaps more important than the players that Guadalajara brings in is the ability of coach Tomás Boy to maximize the talent on the roster. The Chivas have a young team (and Boy is not known for cultivating talent) and “El Jefe” likes to play an aggressive up-tempo style. To make that work, Guadalajara will need discipline and that’s where veterans like Alanis must take charge.