Cruz Azul likely to undergo major changes
Cruz Azul didn’t spend much time lamenting the Wildcard Weekend loss to Atlas.
Instead, the Cementeros brain trust has already broken its roster, separating players into three categories: keepers, goners and trade bait.
Team president Víctor Velazquez and coach Ricardo Ferretti are determined to build a roster that will be a serious contender for the Apertura 2023 title.
After two consecutive seasons in which “La Máquina Azul” stumbled out of the gate then scrambled back late to land a wildcard spot, management intends to give “Tuca” a team that will challenge for a Top 4 finish.
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In addition to completing the roster evaluation, GM Óscar Pérez & Co have identified acquisition targets.
Lozano, 29, won a Liga MX title with Santos Laguna back in 2018 before an ankle injury sidetracked his career momentarily. The Uruguayan scored 6 times during the Clausura 2023, several of the golazo variety. (See here, and here and here.)
Since teen sensation Rodrigo Huescas (2 goals, 4 assists) is receiving interest from Europe (PSV Eindhoven is said to be asking), Lozano could fill a need although Cruz Azul utilized Huescas more as a wingback than as a straight-forward winger.
Speaking of needs, the Cementeros will likely overhaul their front line. Cruz Azul’s top three forwards Gonzalo Carneiro, Michael Estrada and Iván Morales combined for 4 goals and 1 assist.
The “Record” report also suggested that “La Máquina” will ask about Santos Laguna forwards Juan Fran Brunetta (5 goals, 4 assists) and Harold Preciado (6 goals, 2 assists).
América’s Roger Martínez and Necaxa’s Facundo Batista are also potential acquisitions.
Two additional targets are Santos defender Matheus Doria and midfielder Rafa Carioca. Coach Ferretti has particular interest in Carioca since the veteran field general won two Liga MX titles and a Concacaf Champions League while playing for “Tuca” at Tigres.
There are also reports that another former Tigres player – defender Carlos Salcedo – is in talks with Cruz Azul where he would be reunited with his former coach.
Cruz Azul fans might welcome a roster overhaul even if it means ridding the locker room of a couple legends. Defender Julio César Domínguez, 35, holds the al-time record for most games wearing a Cruz Azul jersey and long-time skipper Jesús Corona, 42, will be out of contract this summer and the Cementeros are unlikely to re-sign them.
Also out of contract are “Shaggy” Martínez, Jaiber Jiménez, Alonso Escoboza and Ramiro Funes Mori.
In addition to the threesome of Carneiro, Estrada and Morales, players on the trading block include Christian Tabó, Ramiro Carrera and Rafael Baca.