Will Pineda put European dreams ahead of Qatar hopes?

Orbelín Pineda has seen little action since moving from Cruz Azul to Celta de Vigo in January. (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Orbelín Pineda has seen little action since moving from Cruz Azul to Celta de Vigo in January. (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /
Pineda and Lainez
El Tri coach Gerardo Martino has told Orbelín Pineda (left) and Diego Lainez (right) they must find game time or risk being left off the Qatar roster. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images) /

The Chivas refuse to give up on bringing Orbelín Pineda back into the fold.

The sprightly playmaker is eager to find more playing time ahead of the November World Cup since being told by “Tata” Martino that if he doesn’t see action he won’t be considered for El Tri. And since Celta de Vigo coach Eduardo Coudet does not see him as a starter (he saw just 94 minutes of action in 7 appearances for The Sky Blues since moving to La Liga in January), Pineda and his agent are scrambling to find a spot where he can play.

The Chivas – with whom Orbelín won a Liga MX title back in 2017 – made it clear from the moment the transfer window opened that they want the 26-year-old Guerrero native. Then early last month, Toluca swooped in and as the Diablos have more funds available than do the cash-strapped Chivas, they appeared to have the inside track.

All this became moot, however, when Orbelín on June 13 declared that he wanted to remain in Europe and was not interested in a return to Liga MX.

Gradually, reports of European clubs expressing interest in the former Cruz Azul star emerged.

This week, AEK Athens and Rayo Vallecano were identified as clubs willing to take Pineda on loan, but will they be willing to shell out $6 million euros for the privilege?

This brings us back to the Chivas who have sweetened their offer to Orbelín while making clear that the midfield idea man would get plenty of playing time with a team chasing a title.

Pineda not the only one told to find playing time

During the most recent El Tri training camp, coach Martino told youngster Diego Lainez that – just like Pineda – he is not guaranteed a spot on the World Cup roster.

Despite being in Spain since January 2019, Lainez has not seen his star rise as everybody hoped. A combination of injuries and a mismatched roster at Real Betis has prevented him from displaying his talent regularly. Across the entire 2021-2022 season, the diminutive ballhandler played in just 13 games for a total of 440 minutes, not nearly enough time to demonstrate world class form.

The most recent reports suggest that a few clubs are nosing around for his services (on loan, of course) and, like Pineda, he has stated that he has no interest in returning to Liga MX. Among those kicking Lainez’s tires are Portugal’s Sporting Braga and another La Liga team, Almería.

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Coach Martino knows he is in desperate need of playmakers as El Tri’s attack has been anemic for more than a year. But “Tata” also knows that if a player is not in form, not in game shape, it is extremely difficult for them to produce the necessary talent and fitness level to contribute at a World Cup.