Happy new year, everyone. The year may only be two days old, but already 2008 is well underway in the Argentine footballing world. One basic but important thing to mention first: new president Cristina Kirchner’s decision to bring a daylight savings system back to Argentina means the country is now only two hours behind Greenwich Mean Time, which will of course affect the international kickoff times when the season begins. Now, on to footballing matters, with both River Plate and Boca Juniors getting some serious transfer action done…
The revolving door at the Monumental will be spinning on Thursday when River Plate say goodbye to one star and welcome another player they hope will become one in the next few months. Fernando Belluschi will go to Olympiakos very shortly, for a fee of US$7.6 million, to try his luck in Europe for the first time. New manager Diego Simeone had wanted to keep him and build the side with him as a central piece, but the financial offer was too good for a club with River’s problems to ignore, evidently. In, however, comes Uruguayan striker Sebastián Abreu from Mexican side Tigres – as reported last week. No fee will be paid by River for that one, because Abreu owned his own registration and opted to terminate his contract with the Mexicans in order to move to Buenos Aires.
The giants on the other side of the city in La Boca will also be waving off one favourite whilst laying out the welcome mat. Boca Juniors are apparently set, out of the blue, to sign Lucas Castromán, snatching him from under the noses of English Premier League club Birmingham City. Birmingham had all but assured themselves of the former Vélez striker’s signature, but Boca came in at the last minute with an improved bid to loan the forward which his current club, América de México, preferred to the English side’s.
Ever Banega, meanwhile, is on the point of departing – as did his predecessor in the number five shirt, Fernando Gago – for Spain. Valencia, who’ve also been linked with ex-River man Lucho González in recent weeks, need drastically to bring in some decent midfielders, and have agreed a fee with Boca which the Xeneize‘s third vice-president José Beraldi claims is ‘more than US$20 million’. The 19-year-old cinco will fly out to Valencia immediately, after only 42 first-team matches for Boca, during which time he came second in last year’s Clausura and won the Copa Libertadores, as well as the Under 20 World Cup with Argentina in Canada.