Liga MX Notebook: Swaps continue just two weeks ahead of AP23 kick-off

Atlas winger Ozziel Herrera (left) could be moving to Monterrey as the Rayados stock up to make a run at a Liga MX title. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images)
Atlas winger Ozziel Herrera (left) could be moving to Monterrey as the Rayados stock up to make a run at a Liga MX title. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images) /
Liga MX swaps
Eugenio Pizzuto (right) starred for Mexico at the Under-17 World Cup in 2019 before departing for Ligue 1. The Pachuca product has returned to Liga MX and will play with Tigres this season. (Photo by MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

The new Liga MX season kicks off in a fortnight and players continue to change addresses while others are not sure whether to pack their bags just yet.

One of the more interesting transactions sees Eugenio Pizzuto straggling back to Mexico after an injury-prone three years in Europe.

The former Pachuca midfielder skippered Mexico to a silver medal at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup. A few months later he left for Lille but could not stay healthy, eventually being loaned out to Portuguese side Braga where he spent an unproductive year.

Pizzuto – still just 21 – returns to Liga MX where he will join the Liga MX champions, learning at the feet of grizzled Tigres veterans Guido Pizarro and Rafa Carioca.

Cruz Azul axes Baca, sends goalie to the border

Cementeros management continues to shuffle its roster though the current locker room make-up can’t be considered a genuine Liga MX title contender.

The most recent moves in La Noria have been subtractions, with long-time midfielder Rafael Baca being released and back-up goalie Sebastián Jurado traded to FC Juárez.

Baca, 33, started his career with the San Jose Earthquakes before signing with Cruz Azul in December 2013. The feisty Michoacán native  became a fan favorite due to his tenacity, and helped “La Máquina” end a 24-year title drought when the Cementeros hoisted Liga MX hardware in May 2021.

Never a great athlete, Baca has slowed down and is no longer seen as a valuable back-up, so Cruz Azul gave him his gold watch. But that doesn’t mean retirement is imminent. UNAM and Necaxa are reportedly bidding for his services.

Jurado, 25, has proven to be a bit of a bust. The Cementeros acquired him from lowly Veracruz ahead of the Clausura 2020 season, but the young keeper could not displace Jesús Corona.

Even so, Jurado was given a huge extension by then-GM Jaime Ordiales, a decision that has turned out to be a bit of an albatross.

At one point, Jurado sank to No. 3 in the pecking order though he earned the starting job a year ago after Corona underwent wrist surgery. That experiment ended on Aug. 20, 2022, when América smashed Cruz Azul 7-0, the club’s worst-ever Liga MX loss.

The Cementeros have moved on from Jurado, even as Corona was let go, and are trying to sell him – and his hefty contract – to the Bravos. It is thought that Cruz Azul will have to agree to pay a portion of his wages at the outset (the contract still has two years remaining).

Chávez not likely to go to another Liga MX team

Pachuca management has dismissed talks of a trade with Guadalajara, saying it is willing to take less money to send ace midfielder Luis Chávez to Europe to fulfill the Team Mexico star’s dream.

Chivas personnel and players have been recruiting Chávez to accept a deal with “El Rebaño Sagrado” but the 27-year-old knows that if he is going to have a chance of playing in Europe, time is running out.

Guadalajara did get one win this week, however. The Liga MX runners-up kept defender Antonio Briseño on the payroll, granting him a new contract through 2026.

Briseño appeared to be on the way out after having been a bit player during the regular season, but a sturdy performance in the Liga MX playoffs changed that tune.

Other deals taking shape

Atlas continues to break up the roster that won back-to-back Liga MX titles not too long ago with young winger Ozziel Herrera set to depart.

Reports suggest the 22-year-old Zorros academy product will play with Monterrey next season. Herrera was with Team Mexico last week, starting against both Guatemala and Cameroon.

Meanwhile over in Coahuila, Santos Laguna has rejected a second América bid to acquire promising left back Omar Campos.

The 20-year-old had been invited to this latest El Tri training camp but a knock he picked up in the Liga MX playoffs kept him away.

Next. Gregg Berhalter now tops América's wish list. dark

The Aguilas shipped Pedro Aquino to Santos but that was a separate deal, and the latest big-money offer – plus veteran Luis Fuentes as a deal-sweetener – was turned down by Guerreros management.