Hot Stove League, Liga MX-style: Part Dos

The Liga MX resumes play on Jan. 8 when the Clausura 2021 kicks off with a triple-header. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)
The Liga MX resumes play on Jan. 8 when the Clausura 2021 kicks off with a triple-header. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
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Liga MX Hot Stove 2
Javier Aguirre has taken charge in Monterrey. “El Vasco” returns to Liga MX after nearly 19 years. (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Liga MX sees little movement ahead of Clausura

The winter transfer window slammed shut on Jan. 1 with a bit of a whimper as few Liga MX teams splashed cash around. In fact, several of the familiar free-spenders stayed away from the auction house.

Three of the league’s Big 4 – Cruz Azul and UNAM – did not report a single new acquisition, while moneybags Monterrey only added one new face (defender Alan Mora). Three teams (Tigres, Santos and the reigning champs, León) had just two acquisitions each.

As I mentioned in Part 1, the early stages of the transfer window provided some feverish chatter for those Liga MX fans tuned into the “hot stove” news. As front offices noticed that cash-on-hand was in short supply, activity shrank further as December advanced.

The Clausura 2021 season kicks off on Jan 8 with a triple-header (Chivas at Puebla, Pumas at Tijuana and Necaxa at Mazatlán), so here’s a primer on Liga MX player movement.

Rayados changing stripes?

Monterrey is one of the biggest-spending franchises in Liga MX, boasting the biggest payroll in the league each of the past four seasons. Headed into the Clausura 2021, the Rayados front office demonstrated it is willing to lavish big pesos on the coaching staff as well.

The Javier Aguirre hire might turn out to be the most significant action of the offseason. “El Vasco” is expected to crack the whip and get maximum productivity out of this talented roster. He is definitely worth the money (3.9 million dollars) that makes the two-time World Cup coach the highest-paid manager in Liga MX. And now Aguirre has offered Guillermo Vázquez a job as an assistant. “Memo” – a Liga MX title and a Copa MX trophy on his coaching résumé – might cost Rayados ownership a pretty peso.

As for the pitch, Monterrey made just a single move, acquiring central defender Adrián Mora from Toluca. The 23-year-old has the potential to contend for a roster spot with El Tri in the coming years, and playing for “El Vasco” seems like ideal preparation.

The acquisition of Mora also allows the front office to consider selling César Montes should a European club come asking. Montes, a regular call-up to Team Mexico last year, has been linked to teams such as Valencia, Wolves, Ajax and Porto.

Meanwhile, across town the Tigres were content to gently tweak their locker room. As mentioned in Part 1, striker Carlos González was pilfered from the Pumas. That was a big get, to be sure, while the acquisition of reserve fullback Aldo Cruz (from Tijuana) was the only other addition.

Going out the door were long-time defender Jorge Torres Nilo (moved to Toluca after 10 years – and 5 Liga MX titles – with the Tigres), seldom-used Ulises Cardona (returned to Atlas after loan deal expired) and enigmatic forward Edu Vargas (signed by Brazil’s Atlético Mineiro).