Six players Chivas should sign
GUADALAJARA -- "A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda" is a phrase you will hear frequently in Mexico, from parents ushering sleepy school-children out of bed in the morning, to high-flying businessmen and women eager to seal deals. In English, "the early bird catches the worm," conveys a similar sentiment.
Either could be used to describe Club America's clinical signing of Mexico international Oribe Peralta last Tuesday, in a move that will likely be the biggest in Mexican soccer this transfer window.
Las Aguilas acted swiftly and stealthily to get in a player that is as near a guarantee as any in Mexico to score bucket-loads of goals, attract sponsors and get people in the seats at the Estadio Azteca when the Liga MX kicks off again after the World Cup.
The deal, however, left Chivas reeling, with Santos Laguna president Alejandro Irarragorri embarrassingly admitting that the Guadalajara club had first asked about the player the day before Peralta's signing for Las Aguilas was officially announced.
The deal was already done... and Chivas were only at the stage of making an informal enquiry.
With Peralta down, 24 names remain on Chivas' short list and six new players will be arriving at Chivas this offseason, at least according to what club management has stated.
The latest name to be linked to the club is Adolfo "Bofo" Bautista, who failed to set MLS alight and, while he may be a club legend, is 35-years-old and his best days are clearly behind him.
But in many ways, it is no surprise that Chivas have started the transfer period in a mess.
Since the end of the 2014 Clausura regular season, Ricardo La Volpe has been sacked as coach, Carlos Bustos has been brought in and Rafael Puente Jr. has joined the now triumvirate of directors running the club on a day-to-day basis under owner Jorge Vergara.
Puente told reporters on Friday that Bautista isn't the player Chivas need, while sporting president Juan Manuel Herrero said on Guadalajara radio station TDW on Monday that the door is open if Bustos agrees. It isn't clear who is making decisions and it would be no surprise if sporting director Francisco "Paco" Palencia -- tipped to become a top manager or director after he retired -- is wondering why on earth he decided to join the club.
And all this comes at a time when the stakes over who the new signings should be couldn't be higher. Past failures in transfer windows and in planning the first team have left the club facing a relegation fight next season. Vergara's excuses and talk of constantly "correcting past mistakes" are wearing thin.
There appears to be a deeper malaise in Chivas, highlighted by the success those leaving the club have had (Marco Fabian with Cruz Azul, Erick "Cubo" Torres with Chivas USA and Miguel Ponce with Toluca) and the slide in the careers of those who have joined (Aldo de Nigris, Luis Ernesto Perez, Omar Bravo).
Signing Peralta would've been like throwing down the gauntlet and letting weary fans know that the club is ready to spend big to lift the club from its gloom. With the drop dangling over the team, the time to invest heavily is now and it has to be in players that can arrive and immediately make an impact.
What follows are six players that could do just that. They won't come cheap or easily, but for a club that market itself as "Mexico's greatest," it is time to show it can at least compete with its domestic rivals in the transfer market.
Jose Juan Vazquez: Defensive midfield -- Leon -- Age: 26
Vazquez provides more dynamism, a bigger engine and is a player that looks to go forward quicker than Israel Castro when he is in possession. "Gallito" has been a revelation since Leon was promoted to the first division and could well start for Mexico at the World Cup.
Loosening the player from Leon's grip will be a tough ask, perhaps facilitated by a large transfer fee in a similar way Tigres did when signing Dario Burbano from La Fiera in the last transfer window.
Hiram Mier: Center back -- Monterrey -- Age: 24
A serious knee injury sidelined Mier from November, but the defender is now in full training and has consistently proven he is a class act of full national team material.
With Monterrey restructuring this off-season, now could be the time to negotiate for the Olympic winner.
Carlos Salcido: Center back -- Tigres -- Age: 34
Ideally, Salcido would've returned from Fulham to his first club Chivas back in 2011, but it'd still be a case of better late than never.
Salcido looks after himself off the field, has a wealth of experience to pass down to the younger players and, importantly, has the ability to play both in defense, in defensive midfield and the left back position.
Erick "Cubo" Torres: Striker -- Chivas USA -- Age: 21
A Guadalajara-born goal-scorer that bleeds red, white and blue. Torres is a natural poacher who has improved at Chivas USA and can add some firepower. De Nigris has never been a prolific goal-scorer and with Bravo now 34 years old, Torres is the type of player that Chivas simply don't have at the moment.
Isaac Brizuela: Right wing -- Toluca -- Age: 23
"El Conejo" will be expensive, does have a history at city rivals Atlas and may be garnering interest from Europe, but is exactly the type of player that Chivas need to attract fans into the stadium and get them excited about this team.
Fast, direct and with the ability to create chances from the wing, Brizuela would be the ideal candidate to become Chivas' major signing this off-season.
Alonso Escoboza: Attacking midfield/Left winger - Santos -- Age: 21
In some ways, bringing in Escoboza from Santos Laguna could be the most difficult signing of the six.
The goal-scoring attacking midfielder -- something Chivas have desperately missed recently -- has been taken under head coach Pedro Caixinha's wing at Santos Laguna, has already been in El Tri squad and is a regular for one of Mexico's best-run and consistently good clubs.
With Caixinha seemingly going places in his career and Escoboza settled, it would take some work to unhinge the youngster from his current home.