Liga MX Transfer Tidbits: Aguilas hitting restart

America players trudge off the Estadio Azteca pitch after being eliminated in the quarterfinals by No. 11 seed UNAM. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)
America players trudge off the Estadio Azteca pitch after being eliminated in the quarterfinals by No. 11 seed UNAM. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Liga MX transfer talk-3
Sebastián Córdova (left) and Roger Martínez are likely to be wearing different jerseys when the next Liga MX season kicks off. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images) /

We’re heading into Christmas Week and some Liga MX teams are already exchanging holiday gifts.

We’ve already discussed Diego Valdés (from Santos to América), Christian Tabó (from Puebla to Cruz Azul) and Jesús Angulo (from Atlas to Tigres), but there are still a few Secret Santa presentations in the offing that will titillate Liga MX fans.

Keep in mind that the Winter Transfer Window officially opens on Jan 5 (just two days before the Liga MX season kicks off) and comes to an end on Feb. 1.

With plenty of time for teams to undertake considerable roster reconstruction, we’ll keep tracking the big moves, provide a few team-by-team critiques and share the opinions of local Liga MX writers as well (like this one slamming the front offices of the Chivas and América).

Aguilas take proactive approach

Home-grown playmaker Sebastián Córdova appears close to joining the Tigres where he’d be reunited with former América coach Miguel Herrera. This just six months after club presented the talented midfielder with the coveted No. 10 jersey.

The Olympic bronze medalist has had a trying year under coach Santiago Solari who urged the front office to sign Spaniard Álvaro Fidalgo who plays the same position as Córdova. Though Fidalgo has failed to live up to his billing, Córdova suffered an injury-plagued Guardianes 2021 and then seemed to fall out of favor with Solari, earning just nine starts this past season and playing a full 90 minutes only twice.

We expected considerable roster turnover this winter as the Aguilas have been knocked out of the Liga MX playoffs in the quarterfinals in each of the past three seasons. Especially since team owner Emilio Azcárraga made it clear that, in his opinion, the blame for recent failures lies with the players.

Already striker Nico Castillo has been released outright and midfielder Nicolás Benedetti has been sent to Mazatlán FC on a loan deal. The Aguilas are close to finalizing a one-year loan deal sending winger Renato Ibarra to the Xolos. The 30-year-old Ecuadorian was in Tijuana for his physical this weekend. None of those three players saw much playing time this past season.

Forwards Roger Martínez and Federico Viñas are on the trading block as well. Martínez (3 goals in 15 games) could be sent to Boca Juniors while Viñas (1 goal in 10 games) has said he will not accept a trade within Liga MX, a request that might limit América’s ability to move him.

That leaves Team Mexico striker Henry Martín as the lone center forward suggesting that GM Santiago Baños will be splashing out some cash for a goal-scorer.

Two of Liga MX ‘Big Four’ talk trade

GM Ricardo Peláez has been chatting up Liga MX front offices in hopes of overhauling his underachieving roster, but long-term financial woes have made his job difficult. Without funding to purchase players, the embattled Chivas executive is forced to work trades.

Peláez’s first effort had Liga MX fans abuzz, but the much-ballyhooed Uriel Antuna-for-Sebastián Córdova swap fell apart when Antuna refused to accept a pay cut. As a result, Peláez is now in talks with Cruz Azul, dangling Antuna and defender Alejandro Mayorga for winger/midfielder Roberto “Piojo” Alvarado.

Alvarado (another Tokyo bronze medalist) was a key contributor during the Cementeros’ run to the Liga MX title in May and he’d be an upgrade over Antuna. As for Cruz Azul, Mayorga would step in neatly at left fullback, a position that caused coach Juan Reynoso headaches last season as veteran Adrián Aldrete missed 10 games after offseason surgery.

Cruz Azul is also negotiating with Atlético de San Luis to acquire Spanish defender Unai Bilbao. The 27-year-old is out of contract in May and he has told the Tuneros front office that he will not sign an extension so the Potosinos have little choice but to try and move him instead of allowing him to move on a free after the Clausura 2022 season.

The Cementeros made a bid for the lanky defender last season but were unable to complete a deal. “La Máquina” is eager to inject some youth into the back line as Pablo Aguilar and Julio César Domínguez are on the back end of their careers at 34.

The Chivas, meanwhile, spoke last week with Liga MX Expansión club Sinaloa about Paolo Yrizar. The 24-year-old forward had a decent season with the Dorados (6 goals, 5 assists in 15 games) and has Liga MX experience with Querétaro, Toluca and Tijuana.

There was even talk that Peláez would make a run at Cruz Azul’s 20-year-old striker Santiago Giménez, but bringing him in would be problematic. Guadalajara has a long, proud tradition of signing only Mexican players and Giménez – although he plays for El Tri – was not born in Mexico and his parents are not Mexican (his dad, Christian Giménez enjoyed a long career in Liga MX playing with Veracruz, América, Pachuca and Cruz Azul).

Next. Four Liga MX teams learn CCL fate. dark

So stay tuned. The moves could. Become fast and furious after Christmas as the next Liga MX season arrives before Los Reyes.