Guardado's Midfield Stunner

Andres Guardado had a tough post-World Cup year, but followed it with a terrific summer. After a season in which he labored through a series of injuries, he rebounded very well in the Gold Cup as Mexico's most consistent player, scoring 3 goals and helping the Tri win their 6th Gold Cup. Before the Gold Cup, however, his employers, Deportivo La Coruña, suffered in his absence and ultimately dropped out of La Liga.

A great performance in the CONCACAF tourney, coupled with the fact that Deportivo La Coruña had been relegated, it looked like el Principito was on his way out of Galicia. The transfer rumors had him linked up with teams in Spain, England, Italy, Portugal and Russia.

Guardado stayed put. A cruious nonmove, considering Depor's financial woes. Was it the durability issues that had plagued him since he made the move from Atlas? Guardado has been a quality player on the pitch, but had been sideline numerous times with muscular strains and tears. It turns out that the Club would not budge from the 8MM Euro tag they placed on the midfielder. It was steep a price for a player who had yet to complete a full season without a spell on the injured list -- especially in Spain, where the majority of teams aren't really in any position to throw down for any transfers. And we can't forget that Atlas still gets a piece of any transfer fee. One of Atlas' few smart decisions of the past 50 years.

Guardado has changed his training and conditioning methods, and is committed to help Depor get back into the top flight. Yesterday against Barcelona B, he made the keeper pay for straying off his line.

Guardado is in the last year of his contract, which means Depor gets bubkus if he leaves at the end of the year. So the Principito might be a big fish in the mid-year transfer window. Depor might have to make a choice: promotion or cashflow.