Hot Stove League, Liga MX-style: Part 1

Carlos González has changed his stripes from Pumas to Tigres. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)
Carlos González has changed his stripes from Pumas to Tigres. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /
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Liga MX Hot Stove League 1
Pedro Aquino, left, might soon be antagonizing Federico Viñas, right, during América practices. (Photo by Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images) /

Aguilas restructuring their roster, Puebla active too

Although not yet a done deal, América is on the verge of acquiring Pedro Aquino from the ranks of León, the Guardianes 2020 champions. The Peru international has anchored the Esmeraldas midfield the past three seasons and the talks are in the final stages.

Aquino, 25, is out of contract in June and he told the León front office that he would not extend his deal, preferring to look for new challenged. Europe was one possibility and América was one of the few Liga MX clubs he was willing to play for.

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América will send Rubén González – a back-up midfielder – and cash to León. Aquino will slot into the starting line-up but the question remains for new head coach Santiago Solari: who will be his running mate?

The Aguilas this week did acquire 23-year-old midfielder Alan Medina. The Sinaloa native has spent his entire career with Toluca, debuting just before his 21st birthday in 2018. Management hopes he’ll be able to displace Richard Sánchez who has seen his valuation plummet as his reputation for being a locker room distraction has risen.

The Aguilas hope to offset the Aquino and Medina acquisitions by selling off fading talents Andrés Ibargüen and Roger Martínez.

Ibargüen, 28, has been injury prone and has the reputation for dogging it when not motivated. The Colombian winger has attracted some interest from MLS clubs.

Martínez is also seen as a bad influence since sounding off about being traded in the summer of 2019. When he was not traded to a European club, he sulked and his effectiveness plummeted. As a result, Martínez has seen little action the past two seasons.

There were a number of surprising transactions during the early days of the Liga MX winter transfer window.

Goalie Nicolás Vikonis left Puebla for Mazatlán FC, signing a 3-year deal. His stellar play between the pipes helped the modest club reach the playoffs this past season. Puebla also sent left fullback Brayan Angulo to Xolos.

Former Puebla manager Juan Reynoso was forced to make do with a sparse budget in 2020 and new Camoteros coach Nicolás Lacarmón looks likely to find an even barer cupboard.

Puebla’s payroll was second smallest in the Clausura 2020 – its 24.6 million-peso wage tally was not even one-third of Monterrey’s 74.1 million pesos, tops in Liga MX.

The Camoteros have made one acquisition of note – central defender Pablo Segovia. The 31-year-old Argentine hardman came up through the ranks at Lanús and most recently played for América de Cali in Colombia, achieving the rank of team captain.