J.J. and the Chivas: The Saga of the Sullen Striker

Since returning to Chivas, J.J. Macías has struggled to find the form he demonstrated at León. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
Since returning to Chivas, J.J. Macías has struggled to find the form he demonstrated at León. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /
Chivas Macias
J.J. Macías arrived to Guadalajara in January 2020 with such high expectations it was always going to be difficult to live up to them. (Photo by Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

In January 2020, striker J.J. Macías returned to the Chivas after a magical one-year loan spell with León where the youngster helped propel the Esmeraldas to a Liga MX Final (Clausura 2019).

The “Green Machine” set a Liga MX record with 10 straight wins that season and entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed and the then-19-year-old found the net in the quarterfinals and the semifinals.

Unfortunately for “La Fiera,” Macías – their leading scorer with 8 goals – was unavailable in the Final as he was on World Cup duty with El Tri’s Under-20 squad and León fell to the Tigres.

The following season, Macías again led the Esmeraldas with 8 goals, helping the club claim the No. 2 playoff seed, but León stumbled in the first round.

Back to the Future with Chivas

Some pundits speculated that Macías might try to remain with León instead of accepting a return to the Chivas where there were questions surrounding the reasons for the loan-out. Others wondered if he might be ready for a move to Europe.

The decision was in the hands of new Chivas GM Ricardo Peláez and he convinced Macías to return to his home-town team and help them recapture their glory days. At the time, Guadalajara had gone five seasons without a playoff appearance and Peláez was spending freely to stock up the roster with young studs.

There were reports that Macías agreed to return to “El Rebaño Sagrado” after receiving a promise that he would be free to seek a move to Europe that summer at the completion of the Clausura 2020 season.

However, that season was canceled after 10 games due to the coronavirus pandemic and neither the Chivas nor Macías (4 goals in 8 games) lived up to expectations.

More from Liga MX

Despite this, rumors flew fast and heavy that Lille and Olympique de Marsella were negotiating to bring J.J. to Ligue 1. The Chivas even acquired a replacement in case a sale was completed.

Whether the Chivas backed out on the transfer or scuttled it by asking for too much money, the outcome upset Macías who saw his European dreams shattered. The disappointment was evident in his play for the Chivas during the Guardianes 2020 (5 goals in 15 games) and his listless form continued during the Guardianes 2021 (6 goals in 15 games).

Columnists diagnosed his depression (one citing sources saying coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich was at wit’s end) began to circulate such that it would not be a stretch to describe his body language at Chivas as “doleful.” His teammates were fed up with his aloofness, according to an item in a “Universal Deportes” gossip column.

Where once he was considered a future star with El Tri, Macías gradually was omitted from national team training camp invitations. Still, he was seen as a key member of Mexico’s Olympic team – the Under-23 squad – but his posture and performance were so poor that he lost his starting spot during the Olympic qualifiers in March. As of today, it is not certain that he will even be on the roster for the Tokyo Games, let alone be a starter.

Chivas take proactive approach to crestfallen star

Team Mexico coach Gerardo Martino last week included Macías on his 45-man preliminary roster for the Gold Cup, but that will be pared down to 23 men. It remains to be seen if J.J. will be on that final list.

This week, reports began swirling that Getafe was close to finalizing a deal to bring Macías to La Liga. So, how did that come about?

Here’s how “El Francotirador” explained it in his column for the Mexico City sports daily “Record”:

Macías has one year left on his contract and has let it be known that he will not sign a new deal. In December, he can start talking to other teams who can sign him to a contract beginning in summer 2022 without paying the 10 million-euro buy-out fee to the Chivas. Therefore, the Chivas figure it is better to manufacture a deal now where they get something in return.

Getafe had made inquiries about J.J.’s availability and Peláez was aware of the Spanish team’s interest. But since Getafe knew about Macías’ contract status, Peláez had to be careful about demanding too much.

According to reports, the talks have advanced considerably and the deal would allow Getafe to acquire Macías “on loan” a modest fee while the Chivas would receive an undisclosed percentage of a future sell-on.

Next. Transfers continue apace in Liga MX. dark

For a while, it seemed like an equilateral triangle had been agreed on. Getafe would get Macías on the cheap for a year and could sell him on next summer for a profit. The Chivas would rid themselves of a disgruntled player who could pay dividends in a year’s time and thus continue to tweak their roster. And Macías would fulfill his dream of playing in Europe. In other words, win-win-win.