Just a couple days until their Clausura 2024 season opener and Guadalajara is still wheeling and dealing.
While Chivas ownership has leaked plans for an extravagant “Welcome home!” for prodigal son “Chicharito” Hernández, the front office is frantically trying to rid the payroll of Alexis Vega, “Wacho” Jiménez and Daniel Ríos.
Hernández has yet to sign but his arrival is all but certain and Chivas Nation is hopeful that the all-time leading scorer for El Tri can recover fitness in time to be a key contributor this season. “Chicharito” is coming off knee surgery and is unlikely to see any action before February.
But that has not stopped owner Amaury Vergara from preparing a big party that is likely to take place at Estadio Akron next week.
Chivas still cleaning house
New coach Fernando Gago has been busy with player evaluations since taking over on Dec. 20.
Substitute forwards Ronaldo Cisneros and Santiago Ormeño were quickly identified as trade bait and midfielder Eduardo Torres was also made available.
Ormeño was loaned out to Puebla but a deal to send Cisneros and Torres to FC Juárez fell apart. Unfortunately for Guadalajara, the decision to back out at the last minute will cost them some money as league rules require that a financial indemnity be paid out if one club cancels a transaction that has been set in motion.
This week, GM Fernando Hierro has been working to find new homes for goalie Miguel Jiménez and forward Daniel Ríos.
Jiménez, 33, started all but one game for the Chivas last season, but was often the target of criticism from fans even though “Wacho” helped the club finish in fifth place. As it is, Gago appears to prefer 23-year-old keeper José Raúl Rangel between the pipes, but the club seems unwilling to keep Jiménez on as the back-up.
Ríos became expendable after the Chivas signed 20-year-old Team USA starlet Cade Cowell and former phenom J.J. Macías is back with the club after a lengthy injury absence. Some reports suggest Ríos will be sent back to MLS club San Jose Earthquakes as part of the Cowell transaction.
That leaves one unwanted big salary on the books, that of troubled winger Alexis Vega.
Vega – the team’s highest-paid player – was placed on the chopping block after a season that saw him suspended for violating team rules.
The 26-year-old has worn out his welcome in Guadalajara as a repeat offender and it seems unlikely that he will wear the red-and-white striped jersey ever again. But Vega has not been cooperative.
Cruz Azul was on the verge of acquiring the Mexico City native, but Vega nixed the deal. An agreement with San Jose Earthquakes was blown up when the former El Tri winger announced that he would only accept a trade to LA Galaxy or Inter Miami.
For now, Vega is training with Guadalajara’s U-23 squad and the Chivas brain trust will continue to arrange for his departure. Vega is out of contract out of June 30, but the club would prefer getting something, anything, back in return.
Other Liga MX news
After a weekend clash with first-year coach Martín Anselmi, the stalwart defender was told he would be dealt during the current transfer window. Escobar’s agent claims there was interest from clubs in Brazil and Spain.
Defending champion América is reportedly on the verge of reaching terms to bring Pachuca youngster Ilian Hernández into the fold as back-up to striker Henry Martín.
The Aguilas have already added defender Diego Esqueda from Pachuca though the 21-year-old will be assigned to the franchise’s U-23 roster.
Hernández appeared in 14 games for the Tuzos last season, scoring twice. The Zacatecas native would arrive on a loan deal, a transaction América is considering because home-grown forward Román Martínez, 21, has seen his progress regress of late.