Liga Bancomer MX

Liga MX 2017 Apertura Draft: A team-by-team analysis

With 79 transfers adding up to over $37 million spent, it was a busy, and interesting draft day. Here’s Tom Harrison with analysis of each side’s dealings on draft day.

 

América

Club América’s day was perhaps a bit quieter than anticipated, but they did make one massive addition. Guido Rodríguez was one of the standout players across 2016-17. The holding midfielder was the best ball winner in Liga MX, incredibly averaging over seven tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes. The highly intelligent Argentine is also impressive when in possession, and scored five times for Tijuana in the league. At 23, there’s potential to develop as well. Guido could have certainly gone to Europe, so bringing him to América is a real coup.

Whilst Miguel “Piojo” Herrera wasn’t able to attract Avilés Hurtado alongside Guido, he did sign another Xolos man, Carlos Vargas. The 18-year-old centre-back clearly impressed Piojo during his 12 appearances in the 2017 Clausura. Carlos Orrantia was the other addition, a good player to provide competition for Paul Aguilar.

On the departures front, the arrival of Guido Rodríguez led to América letting both of their holding midfielders go; Daniel “Chepe” Guerrero and Javier Guemez. The other players to leave were Erik Pimentel and Osmar Mares. None of the four had done quite enough at América to suggest they were worth keeping as anything other than backups.

 

Atlas

A bit of a disappointing day for Atlas fans. Sure, Milton Caraglio is a useful target man, and could prove highly effective in an Atlas side that are strong out wide.

However, Atlas’ day was headlined by Necaxa’s double swoop for Daniel Álvarez and Martín Barragán. Álvarez is particular bizarre. An Atlas youth product, Daniel was growing into a more important role each season, and has the technical ability to cause nightmares for opposition full-backs. Atlas fans will likely be devastated to see a developing talent depart.

 

Cruz Azul

La Máquina made just one signing on draft day, Jordan Silva. Silva’s promising career has stagnated since he lost his place in the Toluca defence to Osvaldo González, and the move could prove to be a great kick-starter. Jordan’s height makes him an excellent replacement for Francisco Javier “Maza” Rodríguez, who moved onto Lobos BUAP. Although Maza had only been a backup player recently.

Another notable departure was Jorge Benítez. The enigmatic Paraguayan wasn’t consistent enough, and looking for a replacement is a wise move. Cruz Azul have consistently failed to take their chances for the past few years, one of the main reasons for their constant underachievement. All could change if, and it’s a big if, Fernando Torres is brought in.

 

Chivas

A day that began with big rumours of moves for the likes of Javier Aquino, Erick Gutiérrez and Hirving “Chucky” Lozano ended in just a list of departures.

Letting go of Néstor “Avión” Calderón and Miguel Ponce has reduced Chivas’ depth, and ability to compete in two competitions, which they’ve done so well under Matías Almeyda. But it’s hardly disastrous for the current champions. Barring any moves to Europe, the bulk of the title-winning side has been kept together.

 

León

León’s domestic additions were mainly about adding competition in defensive positions. Iván Piris, if he does join, is experienced in both full-back positions, whilst Carlos Felipe Rodríguez is talented enough to potentially take William Yarbrough’s starting spot in goal.

The more eye-catching moves may come from Chile, with forwards Álvaro Ramos and Maximiliano Cerato very close to joining La Fiera.

 

Lobos BUAP

As is customary, the newly-promoted side were the busiest during the draft. Making the step-up from Ascenso MX to Liga MX is historically difficult, and Lobos are expected to struggle next season.

Signings on draft day included, as expected, a few experienced Mexicans that have passed their peak; Maza RodríguezJuan Carlos Medina and Carlos Morales. They may be dull additions, but the experience could prove very useful.

The more interesting arrivals came from Tigres; Julián and Luis Quinones, plus Luis Advíncula. Luis Quinones is a lively threat as an inside-forward or second striker, whilst Advíncula is an attacking threat from right-back, with past spells in Europe. Both players add real quality to the side, with Luis’ younger brother Julián an exciting prospect.

Another player that may be exciting to follow is winger Alfonso Tamay. Tamay showed promise for Puebla during the 2015 Clausura, and scored an impressive six goals from 13 starts for Oaxaca last season.

 

Monterrey

It’s hard to hold back excitement about watching Monterrey next season. Avilés Hurtado is the best attacking player in Liga MX. 13 goals and assists during the 2017 Clausura, and statistically the best dribbler in the division, Hurtado has a wonderful combination of technical ability, intelligence, physicality and work ethic. The prospect of Hurtado playing alongside Dorlan Pabón is as frightening as it is exciting.

There was also the addition of a quality goalkeeper in Juan Pablo Carrizo, a long-term backup for Samir Handanovic at Inter Milan, and the return of versatile defender Stefan Medina.

Departing Iván Piris and Edwin Cardona undoubtedly have quality, but didn’t perform consistently. Cardona often frustrated with his lack of work ethic, and poor decision making, mainly choosing to shoot from range far too often. Avilés Hurtado is a much harder worker, and much better decision maker.

 

Morelia

A rather positive day for Morelia, who crucially managed to keep hold of star attackers; Raúl Ruidíaz and Diego Valdés.

Making Aldo Rocha‘s move permanent was also a great move, after the ex-León midfielder had an impressive season in Morelia.

There was also the return of Ángel Sepúlveda, who first broke through with La Monarquía. Sepúlveda adds to Morelia’s bulging reserves of wide attacking options.

 

Necaxa

Necaxa were very active on draft day, particularly in bringing in players from Ascenso MX. The squad has certainly been bolstered with youngsters Roberto Alvarado and Daniel Álvarez adding depth out wide, Martín Barragán offering potential goals up front and Miguel Ponce providing competition for Jairo González at left-back.

However, the most interesting signing was Dieter Villalpando. Villalpando has long been one of the most talented, and underrated Mexicans. With outstanding creativity, vision, and ability to play in tight spaces, Dieter has spent much of his career wasted out wide, rather than in a central role, where he can thrive. Attitude has been a problem in the past, as has his ability to provide defensive cover, but with Villalpando statistically the hardest working player in Liga MX last season, those issues appear to have been overcome.

All of these signings were overshadowed by one sale though, the sale of Edson Puch. Puch was superb for Necaxa last season, scoring 15 times in a Cristiano Ronaldo-style role, moving centrally from the left. Replacing these goals and the threat of Puch on the counter will be extremely difficult.

 

Pachuca

The destination of Edson Puch was Pachuca. Pachuca seem almost certain to lose Hirving “Chucky” Lozano this summer, and Puch is the perfect replacement. The Chilean has a very similar style to Chucky, and they share fantastic abilities at dribbling, movement off the ball, and, most crucially, goal scoring.

If he does join, current stories suggest that the player doesn’t want to, Puch will be joined by another high profile Liga MX name, Edwin Cardona. Cardona can fill the gap at attacking-midfield in Diego Alonso’s 4-2-3-1 system. Youngster Víctor Guzmán had been playing there last season, but his lack of attacking qualities meant Guzmán didn’t do a particularly good job, contributing to Pachuca’s struggle to find the back of the net.

Robert Herrera is another fairly high profile signing for Los Tuzos, meaning Alonso now has three quality centre-backs at his disposal.

The three signings represent a major shift in transfer policy from Pachuca. In the previous transfer windows, Pachuca have appeared fully committed to bringing through young players, both from their own academy and from others. However, after failing to make liguilla, Los Tuzos have decided to bring in proven talent. Replacing Chucky with Puch rather than one of their own youngsters like; José David “Avión” Ramírez, Roberto Alvarado, Mateus Goncalves or Francisco Figueroa is the biggest suggestion of a shift in policy.

 

Puebla

Raiding the relegated side for five players may seem a poor decision, but Puebla have actually added a lot of quality from Chiapas. Moi Munoz is still a top Liga MX keeper, Félix Micolta showed that it’s extremely difficult to get the ball off him last season, whilst Jesús Escoboza hinted at why he was tipped as a good prospect a few years back.

Add in the signings of Chepe Guerrero and Erik Pimentel, plus some inevitable additions from abroad, and Puebla will go into next season with half a new squad. It’s been a couple of windows since we’ve seen that from Puebla, but it’s what we used to expect.

 

Pumas

If Pumas were short of attacking depth last season, they aren’t anymore. Mauro Formica is the most high profile. Considering his best position is as a “number ten”, and that Matías Britos is staying at Pumas, it’s questionable whether Formica is needed or not, but he did do rather well when at Cruz Azul.

Joffre Guerrón is another questionable signing, he appeared well past his peak before being released by Cruz Azul. Perhaps the best addition then is Néstor Calderón, although Pumas could just have kept Javier Cortés if they wanted a creative midfielder that could play centrally or out wide.

Cortés is one of many experienced heads leaving the club; Alejandro “Pikolin” Palacios, Darío Verón and Alejandro Castro are significant departures, and although on-the-field performances suggests it’s probably the right time to move them on, Pumas could struggle without leadership next season.

 

Querétaro

It was a quiet day for Querétaro. Given that this is Jaime Lozano’s first transfer window at Los Gallos Blancos, and that last season was a disappointing one, the lack of moves were quite surprising. Perhaps Querétaro will be more active in the international window.

Two midfielders came in. Erbín Trejo has finally shown his class after spending years in the shadows at Toluca. Being sold after finally breaking into the first team is bizarre, but Trejo is a good pickup for Querétaro. Javier Guemez could prove a great addition if he can re-discover the form he produced in Tijuana.

 

Santos Laguna

Santos played with two creative, central midfielders in their 4-3-3 system last season. Gael Sandoval and Osvaldo Martínez did a great job in that role during the Clausura, and the addition of Javier Cortés adds healthy competition for the role.

Santos’ other addition, Brian Lozano, is very much an unknown quantity. Lozano entered Liga MX being considered a great prospect, but was awful when he got chances to play for América. It will be difficult for Lozano to break into the Santos side, but the signing appears worth the risk.

 

Tigres

The only team not to make a signing during the draft, although rumour has it that Éver Banega will be joining the club over the summer. That would be a remarkable signing.

Departure wise, all players appeared surplus to requirements, even Luis Advíncula, who only joined Tigres in the previous window. Advíncula lost his place in the side after picking up an injury, and Luis “Chaka” Rodríguez took the opportunity with both hands, going on a very strong run of form. With Chaka and Israel Jiménez, Advíncula isn’t required, and Tigres can use up a foreign player spot elsewhere.

José “Palma” Rivas is another noteworthy departure, having made 185 league appearances over a 13 year spell with Tigres.

 

Tijuana

They’ve lost their head coach, and now they’ve lost their two best players. It’s been a difficult time for Tijuana, and Eduardo Coudet has a tough re-building job in his hands.

José Antonio “Tono” Rodríguez may be an improvement on Gibran Lajúd, who didn’t impress in goal for much of last season, whilst Mauricio Cuero is a very quick winger and might be a useful addition. Luis Ángel “Quick” Mendoza is also a talented attacking player, who often impressed for Chiapas.

However, the departures of Guido Rodríguez and Avilés Hurtado, plus Milton Caraglio and Carlos Vargas, were the Xolos headlines from the draft. Recovering from these departures will be extremely difficult, with strong international signings required. Teo Gutiérrez would be a massive start.

 

Toluca

Toluca had a strong squad during the Clausura, so it’s no surprise to see few moves during this window. The only signing of note was Mateus Goncalves, the Brazilian winger with massive raw talent, but plenty to learn.

Erbín Trejo was a strange departure considering he’d recently broken into the first team, but neither he, nor Jordan Silva should be missed much.

 

Veracruz

Veracruz were their usual busy self, bringing in a crop of players other sides wanted to get rid of. Osmar Mares, Christian Valdéz, José “Palma” Rivas, Manuel Viniegra and Richard Ruiz are all decent players who can do a job for Veracruz, but none are particularly exciting. Palma Rivas probably the best addition of the group, given his experience.

The most interesting signing may prove to be Giovani Hernández, after the ex-Chivas prospect appears to have re-ignited his flagging career during a strong spell in the Ascenso. He may also have an important role, stepping into Ángel Reyna‘s position as main creator, or even as false-nine, following Reyna’s departure.

Other players leaving Veracruz include; Leobardo López, Rodrigo Noya, Javier “Chuletita” Orozco, Miguel Herrera and Alan Zamora. Only Leo López made more than 11 league appearances last season.

 

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