After one of the busiest off-seasons in years, the freshly christened Liga MX kicks off this weekend. While the league has made a commitment to improve the quality of the overall product, the clubs themselves have dipped into their coffers to bring in an interesting collection of talent. One thing is clear, there are no liquidity issues in the Liga MX.
The same can't be said about La Liga, which is a big reason why a handful of Spanish League veterans have been wooed to play in Mexico. Odd, isn't it? Usually the summer months bring us news of domestic players fulfilling dreams to play abroad. Not in the summer of 2012.
It seemed a little strange that Luis Garcia, the former Atlético de Madrid and Liverpool star, would sign with Puebla last year. The Spanish World Cup Veteran would go on to score a baker's dozen for La Franja before moving on to Pumas this year. Other players in Spain must have been paying attention because this season, Luis Garcia (the other one from Zaragoza), Raul Tamudo (Español),and Valdo (Levante) join Colombian Luis Perea (Atlético) and Ecuadorian Jefferson Montero (Villareal) on their Mexican Odyssey.
Tigres signed Garcia, the Zaragoza striker to replace Héctor Mancilla, who went to Atlas. Hugo Sánchez can count on the Español scoring legend, Tamudo, to help Pachuca win games. Luis Perea moves from the Colchoneros to Cruz Azul, while Valdo, who had a good season with Levante last year heads to the turquoise waters of Cancún to play for Atlante.
Of all the players to come over, though, the one who might be the steal of the summer is Jefferson Montero, who will be playing for Morelia. He is only 22, yet already has collected 20 caps for La Tri. And he looked terrific in Morelia's win over Club America in San Francisco last week.
With these players coming over from Spain, it makes you wonder if Gio's "Spain or nothing" stance on his impending transfer from Tottenham might be more than a little short-sighted.
2 players that leveraged solid World Cup performances into European contracts are back. Efraín Juárez and Pablo Barrera did not have the best experiences in their short tenures in Europe, and the former Pumas teammates are back in Liga MX - Juárez with Club América and Barrera with Cruz Azul. Juárez returns to Mexico after a disastrous spell with Zaragoza (on loan from Celtic) where the coach that replaced Javier Aguirre canceled the loan due to Juárez' awful form. Barrera, who was also on loan to Zaragoza from West Ham, did not fare much better. Of the two, it is Juárez who is the bigger risk. The Cremas paid a premium for a player who has not looked good in over a year.
Another player who has enjoyed national team success for Mexico will be actually be making his local league debut. Nery Castillo played was at his best when he played for Hugo Sánchez a few years ago, and it was Sánchez who asked for Pachuca to pursue the mercurial striker. Castillo's career has been well documented on this space, and he is now in a place where the coach has his back. There is no denying Nery's talent, and if Hugo can find a way to get the most out of the striker, both Pachuca and Mexico will benefit greatly.
South American Pipeline
The transfers from La Liga were a surprise, but one channel that will never stop providing Liga MX with talented players will never dry up. This year is no exception.
Mariano Pavone makes the move from Lanús to Cruz Azul. The Argentine striker has already given cementero fans a glimpse of what he can do with a brace at the Cotton Bowl vs Club América.
Xolos has brought in the mo-hawked "Ecuadorian Neymar", Fidel Martínez. The youngster should provide some pop up in TJ (I have to admit, I love the Tijuana double entendres).
Edgar Benítez is back in the league with Toluca after a spell in his native Paraguay. The pressure on him to produce goals has increased tremendously due to the loss of 2-time scoring champ, Ivan Alonso - who has put his career on hold due to an arrhythmia.
Despite losing Jackson Martínez to Porto, Jaguares' Colombian connections have imported two more Cafeteros. Leyton Jiménez will shore up the back while the "Colombian Drogba" 19-year old Juan Andrés Córdoba is being asked to replace Jackson. Jaguares has a good track record with signing foreign goal hounds, which bodes well for the teenager... and Chiapas fans.
Of course, there were quite a few league vets that moved around, as they always do. And because as such, to damn many to list here. However....
If you would like a more comprehensive, team-by-team season preview, I invite you to read the following: