Liga MX clubs still reshaping rosters ahead of transfer deadline

Defender Carlos Vargas (left) will now be playing alongside Rodrigo Huescas (right) after agreeing to a move from Mazatlán FC to Cruz Azul. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Defender Carlos Vargas (left) will now be playing alongside Rodrigo Huescas (right) after agreeing to a move from Mazatlán FC to Cruz Azul. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
Liga MX transfer deadline
Diego Lainez (right) last played in a Liga MX match on Dec. 16, 2018, helping América defeat Cruz Azul in the Apertura 2018 Final. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

The Liga MX transfer window snaps shut in eight days by which time most clubs will have played four games.

A few fortunate teams – we’re looking at you Tigres – are loading up further, while other teams (cough, Cruz Azul, cough, cough) are approaching desperation mode.

Some front office decision-making might still be influenced by players returning from injury but time will be a factor in such cases.

Here’s a quick look at recent front office activity across Liga MX.

Tigres increasing odds for Liga MX hardware

After four mostly unproductive years in Europe, Diego Lainez is returning to Liga MX, perhaps putting monetary considerations above professional factors.

The diminutive playmaker missed out on his first World Cup last year primarily because he had not seen much of the field while on loan to Braga who unceremoniously returned Lainez to Real Betis this month.

Still, the Tabasco native announced that any Liga MX team wishing to sign him would have to pay him a $2 million salary, while also declaring his preference for remaining in Europe. At the same time, Betis revealed it preferred a buy-out to a new loan deal, indicating the Spanish club wanted to be rid of the Club América product.

While América declared it was unwilling to shell out so much money for Lainez, Tigres raised its hand and, after a brief delay while the player considered the decision, the 22-year-old relented. He is expected in Tigres camp some time next week.

This acquisition comes on the heels of the addition of reigning Liga MX scoring champion, Nicolás Ibáñez, purchased from Pachuca. The prolific Argentine striker will team up with four-time Liga MX goleador André-Pierre Gignac.

To make room for Ibáñez, Tigres – currently in first place – had to release another foreigner and on Monday we found out that Frenchman Florian Thauvin was the unlucky fellow.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the table …

Cruz Azul sits one spot above last place – their worst start in 18 years – and they play Tigres this weekend. For the second straight season, the Cementeros have sunk to the bottom of the table in the early going such that a Liga MX playoff spot already appears like a long shot.

So, what might “La Máquina” do? Last week, the club added Carlos Vargas, a 23-year-old defender who should help stabilize the back line.

Some might already be questioning coach Raúl Gutiérrez’s line-up decisions because, on paper, Cruz Azul seems to be loaded with talent. Striker Gonzalo Carneiro is fit after being sidelined for two weeks, but he has not convinced the coach he should be a starter despite a solid Apertura 2022 and a star turn in the preseason Copa por México final.

Now there are reports that the Cementeros are trying to acquire legendary Colombian striker Radamel Falcao who is reportedly keen on joining Liga MX. The problem is that Rayo Vallecano seems unwilling to let him go.

For more on Cruz Azul, check out our deep dive into the troubled franchise.

Elsewhere in Liga MX

The Chivas have striker J.J. Macías back in camp seven months after undergoing knee surgery. Guadalajara is in desperate need of offense so the return of the prodigal son is most welcome coming as it does a week after the club’s top scorer, Alexis Vega, underwent arthroscopic surgery and will be absent for up to two months.

Last week, free-spending Monterrey welcomed young defender Víctor Guzmán to the club, filling the spot vacated by César Montes who left the Rayados to join Spain’s Espanyol.

The 20-year-old defender debuted for Monterrey over the weekend. The former Tijuana back-liner is in an ideal spot as he’ll learn from long-time Team Mexico star Héctor Moreno as well as Colombia international Stefan Medina.

One transaction that flew under the radar was the return to Liga MX of goalie Raúl Gudiño who left Chivas for the MLS. The lanky netminder played in only six games for Atlanta United before being released in November. Last month, the 26-year-old keeper signed with Necaxa.

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