Hot Stove League Happenings: No down time for front offices in Mexico

Champs waste no time in preparing for title defense; Rayados break out check book and Santos Laguna turns a profit

América hoisted the Liga MX trophy exactly two weeks ago and management is wasting no time in preparing to chase more glory in the Clausura 2024.
América hoisted the Liga MX trophy exactly two weeks ago and management is wasting no time in preparing to chase more glory in the Clausura 2024. / Manuel Velasquez/GettyImages
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Liga MX execs keep busy over the holidays

It would seem that in the Liga MX, the rich keep getting richer.

América will enter the Clausura 2024 as reigning Liga MX champs after a dominant campaign that saw the Aguilas finish atop the table 7 points clear of second-place Monterrey before storming to the club’s 14th league title.

Coach André Jardine masterfully guided his talent-laden club in his first year at Coapa but his bosses are intent on adding depth to the roster.

The front office extended veteran left back Luis Fuentes but the reliable fullback might soon be facing competition from the electrifying Cristian Calderón. 

The Chivas are starting a rebuild and they put the hard-charging “Chicote” on the trade block after a troubled season that saw the 26-year-old in and out of the starting line-up before a two-game suspension in October. 

Calderón was thought to be returning to Necaxa where he shot to fame during the Apertura 2019.

But before the Rayos could finalize a contract, América extended a formal offer and it now appears that Calderón could be an Aguila before the New Year.

Shopping in Belgium

The champs had been recruiting left back Gerardo Arteaga but the El Tri defender is not eager to give up on his European career. The 25-year-old fullback has been struggling with Genk, however, and night be more interested in ensuring playing time ahead of the 2024 Copa América.

While the Aguilas dilly-dallied and Arteaga’s agent solicited offers from teams in Europe, Tigres and Monterrey expressed interest.

And now we hear that Monterrey has offered $6 million for 90% of Arteaga’s player rights, a proposal that caught the eye of Genk officials.

The addition of the former Santos Laguna defender would address a need for the Rayados who have already spent big to improve their attack, reeling in the league's top scorer.

Monterrey coach Fernando Ortiz looks likely to have the enviable task of having to choose from among Harold Preciado (top scorer in the Apertura 2023 with 11 goals), all-time leading scorer in franchise history Rogelio Funes Mori and up-and-coming forward Brandon Vázquez.

Preciado was acquired this week while Funes Mori turned down an offer from Brazil's Gremio to remain with the Rayados and Vázquez is on the verge of signing from MLS club FC Cincinnati.

The Northern Giants also added to its defense by acquiring defensive midfielder Jorge "Corcho" Rodríguez from Argentina's Estudiantes.

Santos Laguna lines its pockets

With the sale of Preciado to Monterrey, Santos will collect $12.5 million dollars, continuing to stuff its bank account this month though perhaps at the cost of contending for the playoffs.

During this winter transfer window, the “Laguneros” have now sold off the Liga MX Golden Boot winner (Preciado) and the top assist man in the league (Juan Brunetta went to Tigres for the hefty sum of $16.5 million. Santos acquired Brunetta for just $2.5 million, making for a tidy $14 million-dollar profit.

The Guerreros also sold veteran defender Félix Torres to Corinthians for $5.5 million. 

Other Liga MX transactions

Guadalajara purchased the contract of José Castillo, a versatile defender who helped Pachuca win the Apertura 2022 title. The 22-year-old back-liner is capable of playing central defense or fullback with

Veteran forward Salomón Rondón appeared to be on the verge of joining Pachuca after rescinding his contract with River Plate. The Tuzos have struggled to find scoring from the striker position since dealing Nico Ibáñez to Tigres a year ago.

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Meanwhile, forward Diber Cambindo was sent to Necaxa by Cruz Azul on a one-year loan deal with a buy option, while Tigres sold young winger Raymundo Fulgencio to Atlas.