Guadalajara is set to make their “official” preseason debut when they take the field at Estadio Jalisco Friday night, but Chivas Nation is more interested in the activities of the club’s new front office.
A rumored Víctor Guzmán-for-Jesús Angulo trade is nearly finalized and many Chivas fans are not on board with the move.
Part of the vexation is derived from the fact that many Chivas fans are not fully aware of the financial crisis plaguing the Liga MX club.
The team is so cash-strapped that trades are the only way Guadalajara can acquire new players as they simply don’t have the funds to purchase players outright.
Guzmán started his career in Guadalajara
Despite being a two-time Liga MX champion, Guzmán is viewed as a risk whereas Angulo – who is coming off a long-term injury – was a key cog in the Clausura 2022 team that reached the Liga MX quarterfinals.
Guzmán, nicknamed “Pocho,” climbed the junior ranks at Guadalajara after joining the club as a 14-year-old, but he never debuted with the Chivas.
Pachuca arranged for a loan deal in July 2015 and a month later he made his Liga MX debut. A year later, “El Pocho” scored the title-clinching goal for the Tuzos in the Clausura 2016 season. Six months later, Pachuca purchased Guzmán’s contract from the Chivas.
Within a few years, “El Pocho” was a rising star who seemed destined for a long career with Mexico’s national team with whom he debuted in September 2018.
Setback for ‘Pocho’
In December 2019, the Chivas acquired Guzmán from Pachuca ahead of the Clausura 2020 season, but a failed doping test doomed the transaction. The deal was rescinded and Guzmán was left facing a year-long suspension even as he professed his innocence.
Nine months later, “El Pocho” was cleared after a second test and he resumed his career with the Tuzos. The substance in question was never officially confirmed but the whispers were that it was an alkaloid, i.e., a recreational drug, not a performance-enhancing drug.
The rumors seemed to dovetail with other reports that Guzmán had turned into a party boy while taking advantage of special privileges granted by the team. “El Pocho” was given permission to travel back home to Guadalajara on off-days and nightclub sightings were frequent.
Still, Guzmán slowly worked his way back into the team’s good graces but his explosiveness and productivity were absent. “El Pocho” didn’t score at all in the Apertura 2021 but gradually earned the confidence of new coach Guillermo Almada as the Clausura 2022 progressed.
Guzmán had become a complementary player rather than a star as Almada built a championship contender. The Tuzos lost in the Clausura 2022 final then marched to the title last season. Guzmán failed to score during the regular season but did contribute in the playoffs (2 goals, 3 assists).
Chivas determined to bring prodigal son back home
The Chivas actually tried to acquire “El Pocho” last summer but were unable to put together a package that wold entice the Tuzos to part with Guzmán. One insider revealed that Guadalajara sought to include real estate and other assets in the deal, but Pachuca insisted on cash.
Guadalajara’s inability to remake their locker room over the past 18 months has made it clear that the team suffered severe financial difficulties related to the Covid pandemic, the loss of stadium concessions a particular hardship.
As such, the club’s new management knows it can’t purchase talent for the Clausura 2023, but must instead fashion trades, a task made rather difficult by the lack of depth on the roster.
And that’s where “Canelo” Angulo comes in. The 25-year-old Angulo is more of a playmaker than Guzman and is a willing two-way player.
Who is ‘Canelo’ Angulo?
“Canelo” debuted in Liga MX with Dorados of Sinaloa in 2016 but spent a year in Ascenso MX after the team was demoted. Tijuana then signed the 21-year-old and Angulo has been a fixture in Liga MX since.
The Culiacán native spent a year with Necaxa before the Chivas acquired him in December 2019, part of the six-player haul that originally included “El Pocho.” Angulo immediately became a contributor and he scored the winner in the club’s wildcard victory over Necaxa in the Apertura 2020 season.
That same year, Angulo helped Mexico’s Under-23 team qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and earned a bronze medal with El Tri in July/August last year. “Canelo” continued to be a productive player with the Chivas as Guadalajara qualified for the playoffs four consecutive seasons, but he suffered a broken leg in a wildcard match against the Pumas in May 2022.
Surgery and rehab went according to plan and “Canelo” returned to the pitch at the end of this last season, though seeing only brief minutes of action. He has been declared fit and was expected to reclaim his starting role in midfield when the rumors of a trade emerged.
Angulo was initially resistant to the idea, but this week accepted a contract offer from León (the team is owned by Grupo Pachuca and management has decided to assign “Canelo” to the Esmeraldas instead of the Tuzos) and the trade appears on the verge of completion.
News of the trade has produced some testy exchanges on social media as a large segment of Chivas fans apparently prefer not losing Angulo to acquire Guzmán. It will be interesting to see the reaction once the transaction is finalized.