Football

Published on January 10th, 2018 | by Peter Coates

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Boca and River lead the way in busy Argentinian transfer window

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Carlos Tevez has been in the media limelight during his second return to Boca but all Superliga clubs have been busy during their summer break 

The Superliga may not resume for roughly another three weeks as Argentina is still sweating in unbearable summer heat but football clubs around the country returned to training this week and ahead of a busy January of friendlies and preparation, the transfer market is well and truly open for business.

Argentina’s two biggest and wealthiest clubs have already splashed the cash ahead of an important 2018 and both have their eyes firmly fixed on the Copa Libertadores.

Boca already boasted the strongest squad in the top flight having flexed their financial muscle over the past year or so but that hasn’t prevented president Daniel Angelici overseeing a summer of recruitment with the aim of capturing a record-equaling seventh Libertadores title.

The worst kept secret in world football has already been revealed with Carlos Tevez returning to La Bombonera from his sabbatical in China. However, Tevez isn’t alone. Ramón Ábila finally completed his move after a brief loan spell at Huracán and while not the household name that Tevez is, the powerful number nine is a decent bet to score plenty with the service that Boca will provide.

Former San Lorenzo duo Julio Buffarini and Emmanuel Mas arrived from São Paulo and Trabzonspor respectively and despite well stocked in the full back positions both bring immense quality and Libertadores-winning experience.

And that doesn’t look to be it for the league champions. Gustavo Gómez or Lisandro López aim to strengthen in central defence and ambitious moves for Nicolás Gaitán or Ricardo Centurión are still being touted. Fresh rumours of Arsenal swooping for Cristian Pavón in the event Alexis Sánchez leaves are the only concern but $37 million would soften that blow.

Watching Boca sit unchallenged at the top has been painful for River Plate but after Marcelo Gallardo signed to stay on for another four years, the club are now aiming to arm him with a side that could rival their bitter enemies.

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Unwilling to take any further gambles on potential, River have smashed their transfer record with the €11.5 million signing of Lucas Pratto and taken a giant step to solving their goalkeeping issues with the capture of Franco Armani.

Both bring considerable experience and are as close to guaranteed successes as transfers can be given their calibre. Pratto has fallen out of favour with Argentina while Armani has unfairly never been given a shot but both will be hoping to impress Jorge Sampaoli.

River are still in talks three Liga MX clubs and still hope to bring in Silvio Romero, Lucas Zelarayán and Damián Musto, although the latter’s move has been complicated by an old positive doping result. If all or even two arrive, plus the return from suspension of talented, young defender Lucas Martínez Quarta, Los Millonarios will be formidable.

The rest of the big five have been far quieter and are certainly operating on far smaller budgets.

Independiente’s Copa Sudamericana celebrations were cut short when manager Ariel Holan announced his departure and while El Rojo are relieved that their cup winning coach had a change of heart, some of the stars from that team could be off.

Captain Nicolás Tagliafico has already traded Avellaneda for Amsterdam with Ajax and Ezequiel Barco looks destined for Atlanta United despite the drawn out negotiations.

El Rojo have completed the low-key signings of Emanuel Britez and Braian Romero but neither are likely to set supporters’ pulses racing so Independiente remain very much active in the market.

Racing are also yet to make their move. Eduardo Coudet was named their new manager and aside from the arrival of free agent Neri Cardozo, La Academia are slowly doing business. Experienced heads Alejandro Donatti, Leonardo Sigali and Nery Domínguez could all follow shortly with probably a few more to hopefully set Racing for a much improved 2018.

And the same can be said of San Lorenzo, who handed Claudio Biaggio the permanent managers job, but so far seem more focused on simply keeping what they have. Fernando Belluschi, Nicolás Blandi, Paulo Díaz and Ezequiel Cerutti all linked away from Bajo Flores but central to Los Cuervos’ plans.

They will hope for better luck than Lanús in this respect as El Granate have already begun to see their Copa Libertadores finalists broken up. Club icons José Sand and Maxi Velázquez are gone and if Iván Marcone, Román Martínez, Diego Braghieri and Fernando Monetti are still at the club come the end of January it would be a surprise.

Which brings us to one of the biggest transfers of the window and a triumphant return that didn’t involved señor Tevez. Struggling Vélez Sarsfield announced the loan signing of Mauro Zárate and more than 1,000 supporters turned out at the airport to welcome him home.

The 30-year-old is one of six new arrivals but without doubt the one that has the club eagerly anticipating the start of the season. Not a bad reaction for a club embroiled in a relegation battle. Things may not be rosy in Liniers and Maxi Romero may have been sold to PSV Eindhoven but with Gabriel Heinze in charge and these new faces, there is a sense of optimism.

WIth so many managerial changes, a lot of clubs are still taking stock and with a couple of weeks still to go there are bound to be some more surprises before the Superliga resumes.

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About the Author

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Peter is a British football writer living in Buenos Aires, who specialises on Argentine football. His passion for the game in South America took him to Argentina in 2011 and aside from starting his own site 'Golazo Argentino', he has covered the national side for The Independent and acts as WhoScored's expert on the Primera División.



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