Liga MX Hot Stove League: Valdés, Angulo on the move

Diego Valdés is taking his talent to Mexico City where he will line up for Santiago Solari and América. (Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images)
Diego Valdés is taking his talent to Mexico City where he will line up for Santiago Solari and América. (Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images) /
Liga MX transfer Valdes
Jesús Angulo (left) is leaving Atlas for the Tigres after helping the Zorros win the Liga MX title. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ/AFP via Getty Images) /

As Atlas fans sleep off their championship hangover, winter window transfer activities continue apace across Liga MX. When Zorros fans finally wake up, the Apertura 2021 trophy will be in the club’s display case, but one of their key defenders will be wearing a different jersey.

The Liga MX winter transfer window officially opens on Jan. 5 – teams will have until Feb. 1 to finalize trades for the Clausura 2022 season – but several key transactions are already in the books (unofficially, of course).

Most of the moves are linked to clubs announcing which players have been let go or not re-signed, while many teams have released lists of those on the trading block.

And, of course, there have already been plenty of rumors about swaps and acquisitions, many of which have proven premature.

After coming up short in Liga MX playoffs, Aguilas swoop in on Valdés

Regular-season champs América spent big to bring in offensive help after meekly succumbing to lowly UNAM in the quarterfinals. “Los AzulCremas” broke the bank to acquire playmaker Diego Valdés from Santos Laguna. One report claimed América spent 12 million dollars to buy the 27-year-old from Puente Alto, Chile.

Valdés had 4 goals and 6 assists last season (including playoffs) in helping the Guerreros reach the quarterfinals. His long-range shooting and passing skills should allow coach Santiago Solari to plug him in behind a lone striker, giving him space to operate in tandem with the dangerous wingers on the Aguilas roster.

Tigres upgrade their defense

Days after celebrating his second Liga MX title, defender Jesús Angulo learned that Atlas would no longer be his home. Angulo is moving to Monterrey where he will play for the Tigres.

It has been an exciting year for the 23-year-old from Culiacán. Over the summer, “Stitch” earned an Olympic bronze medal with El Tri, then returned to help Atlas win its first Liga MX title in 70 years.

Angulo joined the Santos Laguna academy in 2013 at the age of 15, coming through the ranks as a left fullback. He was a starter on the Guerreros team that won the Liga MX championship after the Clausura 2018 season.

A year later, Angulo was sent on loan to Atlas where he became a fixture on the Zorros’ back line and “los Rojinegros” purchased his contract from Santos just before he left for the Olympics.

Upon his return from Tokyo, “Stitch” slotted into the left side of Atlas’ three-man central defense, helping the Zorros become the stingiest team in Liga MX (10 goals allowed in 17 regular-season games).

The Tigres wasted little time in making a bid for Angulo as their priority is upgrading an aging defense. No doubt coach Miguel Herrera will continue looking for back-liners with León’s William Tesillo and América’s Bruno Valdez among the targets.

Cementeros pip Monterrey for Tabó

Early this week, Puebla forward Christian Tabó was all-but delivered to the free-spending Rayados as Monterrey prepared to overhaul its offense. The front office was looking to provide help for Rogelio Funes Mori as Vincent Janssen appears set to depart.

Then suddenly, word leaked out that the 28-year-old Tabó had signed with Cruz Azul. That was a shocking development since the Cementeros are strapped for cash and didn’t appear to be in the mix for the Uruguayan playmaker. But Tabó’s connection to Cruz Azul manager Juan Reynoso was the difference.

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Reynoso coached Tabó for three seasons at Puebla and the two developed a bond that was sufficiently strong to persuade the forward to accept the offer from the Cementeros where he’ll play alongside countryman Jonathan Rodríguez and young Mexican striker Santiago Giménez.