The players are revolting

The saga of Sebastián Saja took a further twist on Wednesday when the player turned up for San Lorenzo’s morning training session flanked by one of the club’s medical chiefs, and was told to do one by manager Ramón Díaz. Elsewhere, Paulo Ferrari’s been talking about his own place in Diego Simeone’s River Plate setup…

Saja arrived as normal for training on Wednesday morning and approached Díaz with the intention, as he stated in an interview yesterday, of training with the rest of the first-team squad. The manager, however, told him to go and train with the youth squads; ‘You can’t come here,’ Díaz told the goalkeeper, to which Saja replied, ‘I’m a professional and I’m not going to go and train with the amateurs.’ After an exchange of around three minutes Díaz sent Saja home.

After first taking charge in Boedo, Díaz announced that Saja wouldn’t be in his plans, and a loan deal to Brazilian side Grêmio was brokered. Saja impressed during his year in Porto Alegre, reaching the final of the Copa Libertadores, but on his return to San Lorenzo at the end of his year abroad, Díaz announced that first-choice Agustín Orión (fair enough), as well as Nereo Champagne and Bruno Centeno (really?!) were all ahead of Saja in the pecking order. According to the AFA, players with pro contracts have the right to train with other contracted players – San Lorenzo’s argument seems to be that several of the players in the youth ranks are contracted to the club, so Saja’s just got to like it or lump it. Following the latest confrontation, Saja’s exit from San Lorenzo at the next opportunity seems all but certain, even more so considering his contract expires at the end of the Clausura. How pleased the fans and some of the team will be at the manager’s treatment of a player who came up through the club’s ranks and has won three titles with them, exactly, is a question that may be answered before much longer.

Ferrari, over at River, is facing time on the subs’ bench for the first time in his career. ‘This never happened to me either at Central or at River before, but I’m not giving up hope,’ said the full-back who, a few months ago, was captaining the team in Fernando Belluschi’s absence. He didn’t play a part in the year’s first superclásico during the Torneo de Verano, and was replaced on Sunday against Newell’s by Danilo Gerlo, in an attempt to combat the hosts’ aerial strength.

In an interview today with Olé, Ferrari talks of the ‘strange feeling’ of no longer being among the group of players regularly in the starting XI. He’s not letting his head drop, explaining that ‘of course I understand it, because there are some great players here and they all have to play at some point. When we play, we have to give our best, and when we don’t, we have to help the group. But the coach’s decision has to be respected.’

Perhaps fittingly, River’s and San Lorenzo’s next fixture pits them against each other. Whilst the forward-thinking full-back Ferrari might be back in the side for a meeting of two sides who like to get forward at every opportunity, Saja certainly won’t be…

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