ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES —- So far there have been 380 transfer transactions between the 30 clubs of Argentina’s newly-enlarged top division – 201 players in and 179 out – and there remain some transfers in progress so the total can well pass 400.
Then matches start this weekend and many coaches will have to assemble 11 players which will be rather like playing a pickup after a barbecue. If you can then see any good soccer, it will probably be a miracle … but that is how soccer is organised here.
Government sources say fans of visiting teams will continue to be banned from stadiums until the AFAPlus ticket system, in the works since 2007, is installed at all clubs – which may be never.
In any case, they get in as “neutrals” paying a higher price. But Buenos Aires provincial governor Daniel Scioli is analysing the possibility of allowing visiting fans into certain matches (one per week-end) in his province, starting July. If that is all Scioli can come up with, forget it! All fans should be allowed into stadiums.
The rest is up to the police. In any case, 90pc of disturbances are not caused by true rival fans.
River Plate . . .
. . . Strangely the club which played the best soccer last year, but did not win the last league title, only signed two new players which may be wise. Why change a successful team?
But they were not wise in other aspects. They tried to sell defender Eder Alvarez Balanta one of their best, but luckily it did not come off. They tried to sell under-21 star Gio Someone and were close to a deal with Real Madrid for teammate Agusto Batalla.
It looks as if soccer manager Enzo Francescoli stopped them. But they did release eight junior division players, two of whom had already played in the first team.
Their chances? After playing a string of “superclassics” with Boca Juniors in summer, which are always played hard like official games, and then two more hard South American Recopa games with San Lorenzo, the players must feel like they have had almost half a season, but now, with Copa Libertadores games, they will have to play two games a week until end-March. They may be over-played before half the tournament is over.
Boca Juniors . . .
. . . With 10 reinforcements, Boca have brought in a new team, mostly on the advice of coach Rodolfo Aruabarrena. That does not guarantee Boca Juniors a better season and if they do not win something, the coach will be on his way out.
Boca will also be in the Libertadores and will be busy until end-March but they have had an easier summer, also twice lining up reserves against River Plate.
The coach says he can now form two strong teams and put one in league games and the other in the cup, but there are doubts if he will stick to that formula. Yet it is a pity that the club does not give its many juniors more of a chance as was the case during Mauricio Macri’s presidency.
Boca Juniors say they spent $5,530,000 on new signings but collected $6m million from those who left. Unfortunately, they also let go some good players.
Yesterday’s latest signing, Daniel Osvaldo, is a free agent, but his signing fee will have increased the above-mentioned expenditure. He is a dangerous forward … but also a dangerous individual who has had trouble at a couple of Italian clubs.
Independiente . . .
. . . needed to strengthen and say they spent $1.2m on players, which, compared with Boca Juniors, may no sound much, but where is it coming from in a club which has the biggest debt in the division?
The club receive much more income than under the previous administration and also reduced its oversized playing staff as 13 players (not saleable) left which is all very good and debtor banks embargo most the their income.
Independiente did surprisingly well after gaining promotion back to the top division last year and seem to have strengthened their team. But their best acquisition, without doubt, was to put Jorge Griffa to take charge of junior teams. Griffa has produced stars in several clubs and will surely do the same at Independiente eventually.
Racing Club . . .
. . . Last season’s surprise champions have probably lost out by selling Gabriel Hauche and Ricardo Centurión abroad and they were also trying to sell their main defender, Luciano Lollo, abroad, while not getting adequate replacements, specially in front. Yet Racing would pay half a million dollars to persuade Lanús to release striker Santiago Silva.
Racing may need the money, but selling their best players will not get them another title. In spite of that, Racing fans rightly complain that they are being charged an extra £15 to go to the first match.
San Lorenzo . . .
. . . also look like possibly having sold their title chances for 9 million dollars — 8 million for Angel Correa and one million for Walter Kannemann — two of their best who cannot be replaced. San Lorenzo remain strong, but the absence of these players may make all the difference.
Huracan . . .
. . . are back in the top division, but it is a pity they let go one of their best, Gonzalo Martínez.
Argentinos Juniors . . .
. . . said they got rid of Juan Roman Riquelme because they could not afford his contract, although there were other reasons, and coach Nestor Gorosito, according to sources, was told to get rid of 9 players, but they signed seven new players without strengthening the team and their debts must haveincreased.