America fans have barely had time to catch their breath and come to terms with Sunday’s incredible 11th title win, but clubs up and down the country are already back from their summer breaks preparing for the Apertura championship.
That necessarily means speculation in the press south of the border as to who is doing what to build a squad to topple champion America, ahead of the Liga MX draft next Wednesday, June 5.
Potential challengers may be helped by the fact that America is likely to lose its star striker Christian Benitez, who has indicated that there are offers on the table and he feels that after winning the Clausura it is the right time to head to pastures new.
Thirty goals in his last 42 league games for America has caught the attention of European clubs and with Radamel Falcao signing for Monaco, Atletico Madrid is the front-runner in the race to capture the former Birmingham City striker, according to reports in Mexico.
That would mean there is an extra foreigner spot at Las Aguilas and Morelia’s Jefferson Montero, Belgium-based Carlos Bacca and Dayro Moreno have all been mentioned as possible incomers. Montero has already signaled there has been interest from America and seems the more likely option.
On the way out of America is former Mexico international Efrain Juarez, and Ecuadoran Narciso Mina may not have long left at the club.
At losing finalists Cruz Azul, there will be some deep soul-searching, with coach Guillermo Vazquez’s future unknown.
Striker Javier “Chuletita” Orozco has already asked to leave and Christian “Chaco” Gimenez’s place isn’t 100 percent secure either, with only six months left on his contract and Monterrey sniffing around the Argentine.
Newell’s Old Boys striker Ignacio Scocco has been linked with coming in to La Maquina, as has Monterrey’s Neri Cardozo.
Another Rayados player certain to move on is 33-year-old out-of-contract midfielder Walter Ayovi. The Ecuadoran has previously stated he would be open to playing in MLS, but Atlas is swooping and there has also been talk of a move to Pumas.
Colombian striker Dorlan Pabon will be replacing Ayovi’s foreigner slot at Monterrey.
Pumas UNAM have put a transfer list of nine players out, headed by Jehu Chiapas and Juan Carlos Cacho, as manager Antonio Torres Servin seeks to restructure after the club fell short at the quarterfinal stage of the Clausura.
Over in Guadalajara at Chivas, there is a sense of desperation about improving on last season’s dismal 17th position finish, but Pachuca defender Nestor Vidrio is the only new signing so far.
Carlos Salcido stated this week that his intention is to see out the year left on his contract at Tigres, although he would like to retire at his first club Chivas. Names like Darvin Chavez, Israel Jimenez and Luis Montes continue to fill papers, but Chivas fans are in need of a really big name to lift spirits.
On the other side of town at Atlas, the big question is who will replace Tomas Boy on the bench. Chivas’ director of sporting development Jose Luis “Guero” Real is currently at the top of the list, after Jose Guadalupe Cruz was reported to have turned down the Rojinegros.
Argentine coach Antonio Mohamed exits the other Rojinegros - Club Tijuana - this week and although the club isn’t talking about possible replacements, press speculation has linked the likes of Mexico legend Hugo Sanchez and Colombian Juan Carlos Osorio with the vacant post.
Xolos will also have a job on their hands to keep hold of South American duo Fidel Martinez and Duvier Riascos, who have both impressed in the Copa Libertadores.
Other bigger names that could move on are Leon’s Dario Burbano, Tigres’ Elias Hernandez, Toluca’s Luis Tejada (who is transfer-listed) and Nery Castillo, who could return to Europe.
The major unknown this transfer period is what kind of finance incoming Veracruz, the new-look Queretaro and Chiapas’ recently-purchased franchise will have. All three will likely be big movers in this summer and could really get the wheels of the market spinning.
Also expect the likes of big-spending Santos Laguna and Tigres to make a couple of incisive buys.
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