Ricardo Pelaez isn't wasting any time.
The new Cruz Azul sporting director has been tasked with improving La Maquina, and after the season finished Sunday with Santos Laguna lifting the trophy, Cruz Azul announced three signings Monday.
Pablo Aguilar will return to Mexico City, where he played for Club America during Pelaez's previous stop. The club announced Monday afternoon that the center back, who played for Club Tijuana during the Clausura, has joined.
Earlier in the day, the team announced the addition of two players from Necaxa: Center back Igor Lichnovsky and midfielder Roberto Alvarado. Aguilar and Lichnovsky should make up a new center-back partnership with Enzo Roco and Julian Velazquez set to leave the club during the summer.
Alvarado, who at age 15 was the youngest player ever to debut in the Mexican second division, could reinforce an attack that scored 22 goals but fell short in critical moments for Pedro Caixinha's squad.
It could be a critical season for Cruz Azul, one of the league's four 'grandes', the biggest clubs historically, but one that hasn't won a title since 1997. After ending the league's longest playoff drought by reaching the quarterfinals in the 2017 Apertura, Cruz Azul finished 12th in the Clausura, again falling short of the postseason in Caixinha's first season, despite a late charge that saw the team avoid defeat in its last four matches.
The club is set to play at the Estadio Azteca, sharing the stadium with Club America, after leaving Estadio Azul at the end of the season.
Pelaez's arrival, and the moves he has helped facilitate, could help Cruz Azul return to relevancy. In addition to the additions announced Monday, the club also is bringing in winger Elias Hernandez who has starred for Leon in the last several tournaments. The only departure announced so far is that of Rangers loanee Carlos "Gullit" Pena. The midfielder reportedly has struggled with substance abuse and disciplinary issues, and Caixinha announced he won't return.