Carlos Acevedo-to-Leverkusen and other Liga MX rumors

After four solid seasons as the Santos Laguna starter, the acrobatic Carlos Acevedo will be suiting up with El Tri. (Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images)
After four solid seasons as the Santos Laguna starter, the acrobatic Carlos Acevedo will be suiting up with El Tri. (Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images) /
Liga MX transfer rumors
Santos goalie Carlos Acevedo has been one of the best netminders in Liga MX over the past three seasons. (Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Carlos Acevedo just got his first call-up to the senior national team and now the 25-year-old Santos skipper is being linked to Bayer Leverkusen. Heady days for a skilled netminder who nearly retired before he turned 18.

A local boy from Torreón, Acevedo was cut from the Santos under-17 team at the end of 2013, but several players – including the goalie – were injured in a bus crash a few weeks later and Carlos was invited back to the team. He continued to improve, and advanced through the Santos system; he made his Liga MX debut in August 2016 and served as the back-up goalie on the Guerreros team that won the Clausura 2018 title.

Acevedo inherited the first-team job when veteran Mexico keeper Jonathan Orozco left for Tijuana in January 2020. Since then, the hirsute netminder has thrilled Santos fans with acrobatic saves and penalty stops. He helped lead the Guerreros to last season’s Liga MX Final where “los Albiverdes” came up short against Cruz Azul.

This season, Acevedo was off to an unbeaten start in Liga MX play (1-5-0) until a shoulder injury sidelined him for eight games. Even so, there were whispers that the Chivas were preparing a bid for his services, though nobody believed they had enough cash/assets to swing a trade even if he were on the market.

Acevedo returned in time for the Liga MX playoffs, but his presence could not avert elimination in the quarterfinals. Then the Bayer Leverkusen stories emerged, while at the same time newly installed Santos coach Pedro Caixinha praised Acevedo, comparing him to Atlético de Madrid goalie Jan Oblak. Even as the “Guardián de los Guerreros” is being linked to a move to Europe, Santos officials deny they have been contacted by the German club. Acevedo is under contract with the Laguneros through 2025.

Other Liga MX transfer activity

The splashy Chivas-América swap remains on hold. The clubs have a trade deal in place and América midfielder Sebastián Córdova has agreed to wage terms. However, Chivas winger Uriel Atuna is not happy with the details of the proposal. He and the Aguilas front office are due to resume talks on Monday.

Meanwhile, América continues to cull its bloated roster (its $94 million-dollar payroll was second highest in Liga MX this past season). On the chopping block are midfielder Mario Osuna, forward Renato Ibarra and oft-injured winger Leo Suárez. Also, Boca Juniors is again making inquiries about the availability of mercurial forward Roger Martínez (take the call!).

Colombian playmaker Nico Benedetti has also been told he is no longer wanted. A year after joining the Aguilas, the talented 24-year-old tore up his knee while on duty with Colombia and never fully earned his way back into the rotation.

The Aguilas front office appears intent on cleaning house as reports say América is willing to entertain offers for forwards Federico Viñas and Henry Martín, fullback Jorge Sánchez and even midfield linchpin Pedro Aquino.

One player already out the door is Chile international Nico Castillo who is rumored to be close to signing with Necaxa. If “Killer” Castillo does don the red-and-white stripes of the Rayos, he’ll join aging Chilean playmaker Jorge “Magician” Valdivia. The 38-year-old “Mago” will be teaming up with Pablo Guede for the third time after playing for the coach in Colo Colo and Morelia. Guede took the Necaxa job in late September and is looking to remake the Aguascalientes-based club’s roster in a hurry.

If healthy, Castillo could be a huge addition (and the Aguilas are willing to pay for a big chunk of the Chilean sniper’s wages to get him off their books). “Killer” Castillo debuted in Liga MX back in 2017 with UNAM, scoring 25 goals in 39 games with the Pumas. The success earned him a contract in Benfica but he was back in Liga MX with América a year later.

The Chilean scored 9 times in 24 matches until serious health issues (a blood clot in his femoral artery) in early 2020 kept him off the pitch for a year-and-a-half. Castillo was on loan with Brazil’s Juventude this past season but rarely played. So, Necaxa is not guaranteed of getting a real “Killer” to lead its attack.

Quick hitters

The Chivas have bid adios to veteran forward Oribe Peralta. The hero of the 2012 London Olympics final against Brazil turns 38 in January and is likely to see his Liga MX career come to an end in inauspicious fashion. “El Cepillo” scored just one goal since joining Guadalajara in June 2019.

While temperamental winger Alexis Vega is demanding a transfer to Europe (despite not scoring a single goal this season), the Chivas are looking for an alternative to lead the attack. One possible target is Santos Laguna youngster Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre. Vega and Aguirre were teammates on the El Tri Olímpico squad that returned from Tokyo with bronze medals. At the same time, “El Rebaño Sagrado” will again have defender Oswaldo Alanis on its books after the San Jose Earthquakes declined to extend the loan deal.

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Early transfer window stories hint that Santos Laguna could be a player in the market (Carlos Acevedo to Dortmund, “Mudo” to Chivas), and stud defender Matheus Doria is the subject of several of these rumors. Recent reports suggest the Tigres are interested in making a big play for the Brazilian, and last week América was mentioned as a suitor. If those two big-spending franchises start a bidding war, it might be hard for the Guerreros to say no.