Liga MX is heading into its second weekend of the Apertura 2023 and there is no shortage of storylines.
It’s too early to make a big deal about the standings (what? Querétaro and Atlas tied for top spot?), especially with so many front-line starters still on duty with the two national teams in action.
In case you need a reminder, El Tri is preparing for a Gold Cup quarterfinal match against Costa Rica on Sunday in Arlington, Texas, while the U-23 squad will battle Costa Rica for a gold medal in the Central America & Caribbean Games.
Instead of taking a look at the Matchday 2 schedule, we’re going to consider the latest action – and rumors – from Liga MX front offices.
Rayados eager to match splashes made by Aguilas, Chivas
Still nursing wounds from its playoff flop, Monterrey has been trying to boost its already significant wage packet.
The Rayados boasted the biggest payroll in Liga MX last season (a lot of good it did them) but they are determined to bring in reserves.
Last month, there were whispers that Monterrey was recruiting Tottenham playmaker Lucas Moura (the Brazilian reportedly spoke with countryman Rafa Carioca – Tigres star midfielder – about what life was like in the Steel City) but that story petered out.
Then when Jesús “Tecatito” Corona was spotted in town, rumors circulated that he was returning to the Rayados. The 30-year-old Sevilla man shrugged off those suggestions, insisting that he is simply vacationing back home.
Corona wants to remain with Sevilla but his situation is anything but secure after an injury-filled season that saw him miss the World Cup.
Making bigger waves is the report that the Rayados are actively wooing Spanish midfielder Sergio Canales.
Canales, 32, just signed an extension with Real Betis but evidently he – or his agent – is listening to Monterrey’s pitch. Still, it would seem unlikely that Canales leave LaLiga even as the Rayados are offering to make him the highest-paid player in Liga MX.
Return of the ‘Millonetas’
América’s two big acquisitions this summer have prompted the revival of the club’s 1960s nickname, “Los Millonetas.”
The Aguilas acquired that moniker after Televisa owner Emilio Azcárraga purchased the Mexico City club and started pouring money into it. At the time, América had yet to win a Liga MX title but the big investments paid off with eight championships between 1966 and 1989.
By bringing in right back Kevin Álvarez and forward Julián Quiñones, América climbed to the top of the league’s payroll rankings – and by quite a significant margin. The Aguilas wage packet is estimated at $85.5 million dollars. Next on the list is Tigres ($69.1), then Chivas ($68), and Monterrey is a distant fourth ($66.7).
As such, new coach André Jardine will have no room for excuses if he fails to deliver the franchise’s 14th Liga MX trophy. Of course, the Aguilas are without the four starters who are on Gold Cup duty (striker Henry Martín, defender Israel Reyes and goalie Luis Malagón with El Tri and winger Alejandro Zendejas with Team USA) but even so the team’s season-opening loss at home to FC Juárez was hard to swallow.
Elsewhere around Liga MX
Cruz Azul continues to scramble to fill out its roster and coach Ricardo Ferretti is getting more and more impatient.
“Tuca” is known to favor veterans over youngsters but he was forced to hand out four debuts on Matchday 1 (a 2-0 loss at Atlas) and his anger at the front office mismanagement is palpable. There were even rumors that the curmudgeonly coach was threatening to resign.
Ferretti had put in a request for striker Alan Pulido but the Sporting KC star has made it clear that the only Liga MX team he would play for is Guadalajara.
So “Tuca” won’t be happy to hear that the Cementeros brain trust (?) is making a play for Jesús “Tepa” González, a 25-year-old forward that can’t crack the Chivas’ line-up.
And I don’t mean he has been unable to earn a starting spot, I mean he has been farmed out to second division, spending the past three years with Leones Negros and Tapatío in Liga de Expansión MX.
In other transactions around the league, Atlético de San Luis acquired Mexico’s U-23 star Benjamín Galdames, a 22-year-old forward who helped El Mini Tri earn a silver medal at the prestigious Toulon Tournament last month. Galdames spent the past five years with Union Española in Chile’s first division, though he played sparingly.
On Wednesday, Necaxa put on a big show in presenting its 11 (that’s right! 11) new faces for the Apertura 2023. Among the near-dozen names was Jesús Alcantar, a 19-year-old defender who came up through the Rayos academy system before spending the past year with Sporting de Lisboa. You can see the full list here.