This article courtesy of GOLAZO ARGENTINO
With the start of the Torneo Inicial still some weeks off the twenty top flight sides are readying their squads with a busy period of transfers and pre-season camps underway.
It’s a intriguing time for the big sides in Argentina, as Boca look to completely overhaul their aging and frankly shoddy outfit of last season and River, too seek to offload several lucrative youngsters in a bid to finance some new faces and perhaps lift the championship after coming close in the Torneo Final. Newell’s Old Boys,after their Copa Libertadores disappointment, have been delayed in their preparations but now face life without Manager, Gerardo Martino and there has also been considerable business from Velez Sarsfield and San Lorenzo who could both mount serious title challenges come December if these signings work out….
Perhaps the biggest transfer coming to the Primera Division has been Velez Sarsfield’s capture of former starlet, Mauro Zarate (pictured above). The striker left Liniers back in 2007 and has recently been playing for Rome giants, Lazio, but upon becoming a free agent this summer he has decided to return home. Slightly temperamental and perhaps controversial, Zarate divides opinion but his talent is unquestionable. A fit and motivated Zarate would be a lethal acquisition for a Velez side wanting to bounce back from their Torneo Final let down. Velez are also keen to renew their relationship with Valencia and Argentina International, Fernando Gago despite his injury plagued spell at the club so far.
In order to finance these high profile moves, Velez have cashed in on two of their brightest youngsters. The top goal scorer in the Clausura 2012, Facundo Ferreyra has switched to Ukrainian outfit, Shakhtar Donetsk and Argentine International full back, Gino Peruzzi has joined Paolo Di Canio’s revolution at Sunderland.
The pursuit of Gago appears to have serious competition from his old team, Boca Juniors. They have not been able to agree upon a valuation with Valencia but the interest from Carlos Bianchi is very real. Bianchi has already seen a large number of his squad leave, perhaps most notably, Clemente Rodriguez, Lucas Viatri and Leandro Somoza but several more will follow despite not having found new suitors just yet. Uruguayan pair, Santiago Silva and Walter Erviti are two such players deemed surplus to requirements but more worringly so too is, highly regarded, goalkeeper, Agustin Orion. To offset all these departures, Bianchi has been recruiting. Last season’s top scorer, Emmanuel Gigliotti has come in from Colon and Sergio Araujo has returned from Barcelona B in Spain. This will hopefully solve Boca’s goal scoring problems and at the other end Daniel Diaz has returned from Atletico Madrid to steady the creaking backline. Obviously in the event of Orion leaving a goalkeeper will shoot up the list of priorities.
City rivals, River Plate have so far endured a frustrating window and manager, Ramon Diaz has made his feelings well known following the clubs failure to bring in the new bodies prior to the training camp in Salta. Instead, much of the talk has been of President, Daniel Passarella trying to ship out players to Europe and make a quick profit in the process. Emerging star of the Torneo Final, Eder Alvarez Balanta is linked to a big money move to Monaco and now there is news that River may sell Manuel Lanzini after a $6.5 million offer from Dubai. This, after they have already seen, Rodrigo Mora and Ezequiel Cirigliano leave for Italy (possibly to be followed by Rogelio Funes Mori) and Leandro Gonzalez Pires for Racing Genk.
However, the club continue to work on their targets: Colombian striker, Teo Gutierrez is keen to move to El Monumental but his current employers, Cruz Azul are slightly more reluctant. Negotiations are also slow in trying to arrange the return of loanee, Juan Manuel Iturbe from Porto after his moderately successful Torneo Final. Jonathan Fabbro (Cerro Porteño), Carlos Carbonero (Arsenal), Iván Pillud (Racing) and Lucas Orban (Tigre) are all reportedly close to joining.
Perhaps the team to watch in the coming season will be San Lorenzo. Finishing the previous championship on a 10 game unbeaten run and 6 wins on the bounce they have been quick to reinforce the squad with some real talent. The latest additions to the rebuilding are Fabricio Fontanini, the young defender who performed admirably last season for Atletico Rafaela and the resigning of talented midfielder, Ignacio Piatti. Piatti signed a one-year-deal when he arrived from Lecce last year and with that deal expiring it appeared that he may be on the move again but he has put pen to paper on another year much to the joy of all those at the club.
This, already on the back of the signings of goalkeeper, Cristian Alvarez, who arrived from Espanyol and will naturally replace the now departed, Pablo Migliore who signed for Dinamo Zagreb following his stint in jail, Quilmes pair, Martin Cauteruccio and Fernando Elizari and San Martin defender, Emmanuel Mas. All the signings come at an age when they will improve and certainly add to the San Lorenzo first team. Another player, coming back from a loan spell in the UAE with Emirates Club is Paraguayan International, Nestor Ortigoza. The former Argentinos Juniors, Clausura winner and Footballer of the Year returns to add some experience and quality to the midfield.
However, the likely transfer of Juan Ignacio Cavallaro will signal some real intent as the 19-year-old attacking midfielder, from relegated Union has reportedly had offers from Brasil as well as Valencia. Negotiations have been on-going with Union but are seemingly close and the addition of Cavallaro to San Lorenzo’s youthful side could elevate them to genuine championship contenders.
Elsewhere, with Independiente’s relegation there have been several departures but the most high profile has been Colombian midfielder, Fabian Vargas. One of the few good performers for El Rojo in recent times, immediately stated his refusal to play in the Nacional B and so a host of clubs have courted him. Until recently it had appeared that Avellaneda enemies, Racing Club had won the race for his signature but some disturbing threats have made Vargas have second thoughts and the transfer is now back up in the air. Racing ,meanwhile, have so far managed to hang on to their most prized assets amid interest from some of Europe’s big spenders.
The only other big stories have been Lisandro Lopez’s transfer to Benfica, possibly to replace fellow Argentine, Ezequiel Garay? Arsenal’s loss even more significant, taking into account the loss of Dario Benedetto, Jorge Ortiz and Carlos Carbonero, all of which were key men over the last few seasons. Estudiantes welcome back, the legendary, Juan Sebastian Veron from retirement. Obviously watching Riquelme slot back in at Boca caused the former International to get itchy feet and he will be leading the side once again come August. But they could be without top scorer, Duvan Zapata, as the young Colombian centre forward, has attracted the interest of West Ham. A fee has supposedly been agreed and the only possible issue could be his work permit to play in England.
Lastly, Atletico Rafaela keeper, Guillermo Sara moved across the Atlantic to join Real Betis and Lanus lost influential midfielder, Guido Pizarro to Mexican side Monterrey. For a full list of all the comings and goings see GOLAZO ARGENTINO
There are still some weeks to go before the big kickoff over the first weekend of August so there are bound to be further developments but it’s shaping up to be another fascinating championship with any number of possible winners.
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