Tigres get their man! Córdova sheds wings for stripes

All was well in Tokyo for Sebastián Córdova who helped El Tri Olímpico come home with a bronze medal. Things did not go so well in the Apertura 2021, however. (Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images)
All was well in Tokyo for Sebastián Córdova who helped El Tri Olímpico come home with a bronze medal. Things did not go so well in the Apertura 2021, however. (Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images) /
Tigres - Cordova
Sebastián Córdova will be taking his skills to Monterrey where he will join a powerful Tigres attack. (Photo by Alejandro Rodriguez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

It’s official! Star-in-the-making Sebastián Córdova has left América for the Tigres where he will be reunited with former coach Miguel Herrera.

The fact that the 24-year-old Aguilas academy product was on the market at all – just six months after he was given the team’s coveted No. 10 jersey – is the source of plenty of rumors (What did the home-grown hero do to deserve banishment? Was there a clash of wills with coach Santiago Solari?)

Legendary “AzulCremas” have chimed in, criticizing the midfielder for departing (“he’s too sensitive to play in the pressure-cooker environment,” “he’s making a big mistake leaving the biggest club in Latin America”).

Whatever the reasons behind this move – and the Mexican soccer media will suss out plenty of stories, regardless of accuracy – Córdova will now try to rebuild his career and re-establish the European credentials he appeared to have two years ago.

Tigres heat up Liga MX Hot Stove League

Sticking with the two Liga MX clubs involved in the top story, the Tigres now have the attacking midfielder they wanted after the Leo Fernández experiment failed. The 23-year-old Uruguayan playmaker has been sent to Toluca where he will team up with new coach Ignacio Ambriz.

Meanwhile, Herrera and his boss Mauricio Culebro are trying to rejuvenate the roster. “El Piojo” struggled to imprint his tactical style as his veteran line-up often fell back into the conservative schemes favored by “Tuca” Ferretti who led the Tigres to five Liga MX titles from 2011 to 2019.

With defensive minded Rafa Carioca, 32, and Guido Pizarro, 31, patrolling midfield, and injury-prone Hugo Ayala, 34, the most-reliable defender, Culebro intends to strengthen the defensive half so that it will serve as a platform for the offense.

The Tigres already acquired Córdova’s bronze medal-winning teammate Jesús Angulo to step into the back line and management would also love to rid themselves of defender Carlos Salcedo whose inconsistency and volatility was often an unneeded distraction.

Salcedo figures to be an ongoing headache if the Tigres can’t move him. His agent is demanding more money and a contract extension, but Culebro and Co. say “No way! You must play out your contract.” At the same time, they have made clear that they will entertain offers. Salcedo wants to return to Europe, but his drop in form makes that extremely unlikely and it is more probable that the Tigres will have to endure another season with the disgruntled defender.

In contrast, Herrera and Culebro have been trying to convince jack-of-all-trades Jesús Dueñas to stay with the club. Multiple extensions have been proffered but “Super Dueñas” is eager to leave, preferring to go somewhere where he might be a full-time starter. For now, that appears to be FC Juárez where “Tuca,” his former coach, is in charge.

Aguilas aim to spruce up their nest

In Mexico City, América has started its winter break by embracing the “addition-by-subtraction” philosophy. Out the door are Nico Castillo, Renato Ibarra, Nico Benedetti and Córdova. Also ticketed for removal are Leo Suárez and Roger Martínez.

So far, only former Santos Laguna playmaker Diego Valdés has been added to the roster. He’ll join Alvaro Fidalgo as midfield attackers with Henry Martín and Federico Viñas as likely target men.

Fidalgo will be under pressure to perform as he was acquired at the direct request of coach Solari who preferred the Spaniard to the home-grown Córdova despite unimpressive production.

The Aguilas’ next newcomer could be 19-year-old defender Víctor Guzmán. The Tijuana product could be included to complete the deal sending Ibarra to the Xolos. If Guzmán is reeled in, it will continue a recent tradition of Tijuana-to-América moves. Since 2014, Dario Benedetto, Pablo Aguilar, Guido Rodríguez and Henry Martín have arrived to Coapa from the border and contributed to multiple titles.

Next. Title-winning coaches return to Liga MX. dark

Another potential move making the rounds is the acquisition of midfielder Jona dos Santos who is out of contract after playing out his deal with LA Galaxy. The 31-year-old Mexico stalwart has expressed willingness to test the Liga MX waters and his brother Gio and his father – Zizinho – played for the Aguilas.