Top 15 Transfers of the Clausura 2011
Another year has come and gone in Mexico and the story seems all too familiar. The giants are struggling to retain their old glory, the newcomers hope to avoid relegation and the transfer market is full of new signings and rumors of potential moves that have fans sitting on the edge of their couches.
With a total of 81 players changing teams there is a great deal of optimism around the league. Some fans are excited to see fresh faces in their clubs while others hope that they could repeat their success with the same squads.
As we look at the new signings we see a diversity of players. There are foreigners, seasoned veterans, rising stars, and even those that seek redemption. We will take a look at the Top 15 transfers of the Clausura 2011 and analyze the impact that they will each have in their new homes.
#15 Damián Manso
When Tigres announced the signing of Jaguares attacking midfielder Danilo Veron, the task of finding a suitable replacement seemed complicated. Everyone in Tuxtla Gutiérrez was aware of the difficult task of replacing the versatility and change in rhythm that “Danilinho” added to the Chiapaneco attack with his technique. Jaguares coach José Guadalupe Cruz, quickly set out to fill the void in his offensive front and added the former Pachuca FC player.
Jaguares are hoping that Manso picks up right where Danilinho left off at the end of the last tournament. Manso’s chemistry with Colombian forward Jackson Martínez will be the key for the clubs chances in reaching La Liguilla.
#14 Carlos Bueno
With twelve new faces Querétaro is hoping to avoid the curse of “La Corregidora” and avoid relegation to the Liga de Ascenso. Bueno is certainly the standout amongst the team’s acquisitions for the upcoming tournament.
Gallos Blancos hope they have found their striker in Bueno, a man with experience in Europe as well as with the Uruguayan national side. At 30 years old, Bueno isn’t exactly a promise for the future but the hopes of Querétaro are that his best years aren’t behind him and he will contribute goals to a squad that is right in the middle of the relegation battle.
#13 Danilo Veron
Better known as Danilinho, this Brazilian shows that he has the talent to become one of the top playmakers in the tournament. His level of play has been inconsistent to say the least but towards the end of last year he began to develop a great attacking duo with ex-teammate Jackson Martínez.
The bursts of talent that Danilinho has shown are enough to say that he will be an important part of “Tuca” Ferretti’s team and alongside teammate Lucas Lobos they should give Hector Mancilla plenty of goal scoring chances. Tigres hopes that a consistent Danilinho showcases his top form and helps the team reach the level that their fans deserve.
#12 Joao Rojas
With over 80 matches played as a professional and 7 appearances for the Ecuadorian national team, this 21-year-old can’t be overlooked. He is a very agile yet powerful player and can support the defensive as well as the attacking game thanks to his excellent stamina.
Rojas comes from Ecuadorian side Emelec, which recently played in the final of the Ecuadorian tournament and finished one point behind the lead in the Ecuadorian Serie A.
Tomás Boy will be looking for Rojas to add another dimension to the Monarca attack and create a threat on both sides of the pitch with teammate Elías Hernández.
#11 Wilman Conde
Conde had initially reached an agreement to play for Puebla FC in the Clausura 2011 but the deal fell through after he became aware of the ownership dispute that the club was undergoing, a situation that was initially unknown to him when he was first approached to join the La Franja. Atlas seized the opportunity and acquired Conde.
Conde solidified himself as one of the top defenseman in the MLS during his four year stint with the Chicago Fire. At 6’2’’, he is a big presence and looks poised to take control of the leadership role in the defensive zone that Fabricio Fuentes left vacant.
#10 Nelson Cuevas
“Pipino” Cuevas returns to Mexico and will play for Puebla FC, making it the third team in which he will see action for in the Mexican league. During his arrival in 2004 for Pachuca he quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his entertaining way of dribbling the ball and his desire to take on defenders one-on-one. After successful seasons in Hidalgo, Cuevas switched sides and joined one of Mexico’s most popular teams Club América, a move that cemented his popularity in Mexico.
Cuevas comes from Spanish side Albacete and hopes to contribute his experience in Puebla’s run towards La Liguilla.
#9 Reimond Manco
After last year’s surprise signing of Peruvian striker Johan Fano, Atlante FC once again looked towards the Incan country for some much needed help for their attacking arsenal.
Even though he is only 20 years old, Reimond Manco has already acquired invaluable experience during his short career. He has played for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, participated in the Copa Libertadores with Peruvian club Juan Aurich, and earned 5 caps with the Peruvian national team.
Manco is not only a player to watch for the future, he looks ready to contribute in Cancún right away. Expect him to become one of the rising stars of the Clausura 2011.
#8 Carlo Costly
After years of playing in Europe, Costly finally lands in Mexico. In recent interviews the Honduran international mentioned that in the beginning of his career he had numerous try-outs in Mexico for various youth squads but none gave him the opportunity to earn a professional contract. Costly, now 28, returns as a seasoned striker in the prime of his career.
With Costly and the arrival of Brazilian Lúcio Flávio dos Santos, the Rojinegro attack seems more commanding and will surely be a tough task for any defense to handle. Costly is one of seven new signings for Club Atlas, a team that had much activity in the transfer market in hopes of avoiding the relegation battle.
#7 Jonathan Bornstein
With over 36 international appearances, Bornstein is one of the most interesting signings of the Clausura 2011. He is a versatile player with good projection from his left back position.
Language will not be a problem for this United States international, his mother was born in Mexico and taught him Spanish at an early age. Bornstein joins Tigres despite being selected in the expansion draft by the newly formed Portland Timbers and if he decides to return to the MLS within two years then they would be first in line for his services.
#6 Felix Borja
Perhaps the most underrated new signing of the tournament, Borja is a strong forward with first-class bursts of speed. Whether on the run or in the air, he is a sure bet to make a challenge for the ball.
Borja has 21 caps for the Ecuadorian national team and has scored three goals. Following a good showing during the 2006 Copa Libertadores, he made a move to Greek side Olympiacos. After failing to meet expectations he was loaned to Mainz 05 of the German Bundesliga where he achieved success and was retained by the club after his loan spell was over.
If Borja could find his top form, Puebla FC look likely to make a surprise title run.
#5 Waldo Ponce
When it comes to big signings in Mexican football you could always count on Cruz Azul to make news. After failing to sign Paulo da Silva, Cruz Azul looked towards Ponce to solidify their backline.
Ponce comes from Spanish side Racing de Santander. He has earned 29 caps defending Chile and was present at last summer’s world cup. He is a stout defender with great individual technique. He is a constant threat on the aerial attack and his knack for setting up plays from his own end of the field is astonishing.
Cruz Azul once again look like top contenders for the title. With the signing of Ponce, the Cementeros hope to have the defensive stability that players like Joel Huiqui and Horacio Cervantes lacked.
#4 Hugo Droguett
Determined to win their first championship since 1997, Cruz Azul announced a total of four signings for the Clausura 2011. Waldo Ponce’s incorporation is a huge boost to the team but it is Droguett who will prove to be the catalyst that ignites their title run.
Droguett has taken his place amongst the league’s most prominent foreigners in the last five years. His dynamic style of play was vital to the clubs that he was a part of. (Estudiantes Tecos and Morelia) Droguett could serve a key role in Enrique Meza’s attack and nobody is happier than striker Emanuel Villa. Expect Villa to use the help of Droguett and “Chaco” Giménez in order to once again top the goal scoring charts.
#3 Miguel Ángel Pinto
Atlas has always been known for their superb work with their football school and their excellent goalkeeping tradition. It is only in the last few years that the team has had to look outside its walls for a net minder. Pinto is as good as they come.
Pinto has played 218 professional matches, all with Universidad de Chile. His international experience stands at 14 caps, he is the substitute of Captain Claudio Bravo.
Pinto will provide the security and confidence in the net that the team has lacked for several seasons. Foreign goalkeepers seldom earn a spot in Mexican clubs because they take up one of five designated spaces for non-Mexican players. Pinto has all the marks of a great goalkeeper and the Rojinegro faithful hope that he will etch his name alongside the many other remarkable goalkeepers that have been in the institution.
#2 Héctor Mancilla
Every year there is a handful of strikers that are able to put together a good season but there are few that consistently produce goals as well as Mancilla has. In his years with Toluca, Mancilla became top scorer of the tournament in two separate occasions and amassed a total of 55 goals in 96 appearances with the Choriceros.
There is no doubt that Mancilla is one of the top strikers in the league. He isn’t the fastest or most skillful striker but his true threat is his ability to finish the play in short spaces.
With four quality signings and a target man like Mancilla up front, Tigres look to be serious contenders for this year’s championship.
#1 Jaime Javier Ayoví
Ayoví is a powerful forward that has an exceptional aerial game and superb finishing with both feet. The 22-year-old finished as the top goal scorer of the Ecuadorian Serie A, netting a total of 23 goals and leading Emelec to the tournaments final. Despite being linked with several European clubs, including English Premier League side Bolton, this young Ecuadorian chose to leave Emelec and join Los Diablos Rojos.
In recent interviews, Ayoví stated that he had been a fan of Toluca ever since he was 14 years old. He is determined to leave his mark on the team he idolized growing up. With the departure of Héctor Mancilla during the off-season the team looked in dire need of a new striker. Ayoví’s physical strength will undoubtedly give him an advantage but it is his passion for this team that will make him an impact player in the Clausura 2011.