Two more Liga MX players moving closer to Europe

Teen sensation Santiago Muñoz is working to arrange a transfer to Newcastle United. (Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images)
Teen sensation Santiago Muñoz is working to arrange a transfer to Newcastle United. (Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images) /
Liga MX transfers Europe
Cruz Azul winger Orbelín Pineda appears close to completing a transfer that would send him to Celta de Vigo in December. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

Santos Laguna teenager Santiago Muñoz is in talks with Newcastle United, but no deal is in sight yet. The 19-year-old center forward erupted into the headlines last season, scoring 3 goals in 13 games for the Guerreros.

Coach Guillermo Almada has a reputation for developing youngsters and he relied on the productive Santos academy while guiding the club to the Liga MX finals last season.

Muñoz was a star with Mexico’s Under-17 team that finished second in the 2019 World Cup. His first division debut came in the Guardianes 2020 Liga MX season (a 17-minute appearance), then he scored in his first game of the Guardianes 2021 against América.

Muñoz was given his first start two weeks later and was a regular in the rotation (including three complete games) the remainder of the Liga MX season.

From Liga MX to the EPL before the age of 20?

The youngster from El Paso, Texas, has told the Torreón-based club that he will not sign a new contract when the current one expires next summer and his desire to transfer to a European club has affected his attitude in training.

Almada sidelined him from the first team during pre-season, telling reporters that his head was elsewhere and “I only want players focused on what we are doing as a team.” Muñoz has not seen a moment of action this season, not even making the bench in Santos’ first three games.

Nevertheless, the club is earnestly trying to accommodate Muñoz. There are two sticking points to overcome, however: 1. The striker does not fulfill all the requirements to get a work permit in England (specifically, playing time with the national team and total games in first division), 2. Muñoz must sign a contract extension in order to execute a loan deal and the player and his agent are reluctant to do so until certain guarantees are met.

The first point can be overcome if Newcastle requests – and it granted – and exemption, while the second point is necessary because if the Magpies decide not to buy out his contract after the loan deal expires then Santos would recover the player.

There is still a month remaining in the transfer window, but Santos Laguna is eager to settle the situation one way or another this week so the team can focus on the Liga MX season.

Two from Team Mexico headed to La Liga?

Orbelín Pineda and Jesús “Tecatito” Corona are attracting interest from Celta de Vigo and Sevilla, respectively.

The two wingers were key players for El Tri in their run to the Concacaf Gold Cup final but were unable to spark the national team to victory against Team USA.

More from Playing for 90

Pineda helped lead Cruz Azul to the Liga MX title last season and his dribbling and passing skills would make him a welcome addition to any club. Some reports suggest he already has a deal in place to move to Celta de Vigo in December, but officials with the Spanish club will only confirm that they like the 25-year-old playmaker from Guerrero.

One bit of news that would facilitate a move is the status of El Tri defender Néstor Araujo who has been with Celta the past three years. Araujo is expected to get his Spanish passport this summer and that would open a roster spot for a “non-community” player.

“Tecatito,” 28, left Liga MX eight years ago and has played for Twente in the Eredivisie and with FC Porto where he won the Primeira Liga Player of the Year after the 2019-2020 season. The flashy winger has earned raving reviews during his six seasons in Portugal, but he is looking for bigger challenges and a spot with La Liga giant Sevilla would provide that.

Porto officials have said they expect to complete the transaction this week and the Hermosillo, Sonora, native could be in Spain before the month is out. The clubs will finalize the deal once Corona receives his Portuguese passport.

Vásquez in Italy

Defender Johan Vásquez passed his physical last week and appears set to become the fourth Mexican back-liner to play in Serie A, following in the footsteps of Rafa Márquez (Hellas Verona), Héctor Moreno (Roma) and Carlos Salcedo (Fiorentina).

Next. Liga MX boosts bragging rights. dark

The 22-year-old helped El Tri Olímpico win bronze in Tokyo and was a key factor in UNAM’s run to the Liga MX finals during the Guardianes 2020 season.