Leave it to Club America to negotiate a transfer with a team whose coach doesn’t even want the player in question. The player in question, Memo Ochoa, is counting the seconds for 2010 to end. It should have been a breakout year for the Club America goalkeeper. It has turned out to be anything but.
He started the year as the undisputed National Team starter. At 25, he would be playing in the first of many World Cups. We did see plenty of Ochoa during the tournament.
In Powerade, Home Depot and Allstate ads.
But a baffling decision by Javier Aguirre left Ochoa on the bench for Mexico’s 4 games. The coach opted with the more experienced Oscar Perez. Some say he didn’t trust the younger keeper, others say it was a leadership issue. Regardless of the reason, young Ochoa was hoping to showcase his skills.
The keeper, who had never made a secret of his desire to explore options abroad, had no other choice than go back to America. He held some of, but not all of the cards. This is Mexico, after all where players’ rights are virtually non-existent. Knowing that Ochoa was approaching the point in his contract where he was free to negotiate his own rights, America tried to salvage something for their star keeper.
They opened up talks with Fulham. After finally coming to financial terms (America’s starting point of 10 MM was laughable), Fulham walked away earlier today, cratering the deal. Fulham skipper Mark Hughes really didn’t see the need to bring him in, especially since the starting keeper had just signed a two year deal. It kinda makes you wonder why these two even sat down at the table at all. America isn't used to people telling them no, much less balking at their terms. Whatever clout they think they have vanishes outside of Mexico.
So now Ochoa is in that window, the last six months of his contract where he is free to negotiate with any team he wants.
Any team outside of Mexico, that is.
And that’s the choice Ochoa has to make. Does he want to play in Mexico again? Because if he signs his own deal and plays abroad, he’ll have an ownership group that will make damned sure he never plays in Mexico again. Thanks, of course, to the Pacto de “Caballeros.”
Televisa has at least been cooperative with Ochoa. They have to be. Because if he leaves on his own, the PR hit they would take would be huge. A massive blow for a team for which image is almost as important than winning (more important for some of the fans).
So what’s it going to be Memo? Are you going to follow your dreams? Maybe play out of your comfort zone? Or will you re-up with the only team you have ever known, keep signing those sweet endorsement deals and wonder what could have been?
We’ll find out soon enough.